The End Of The Dial Tone

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Things change quicker than most of us realize.

If you speak to marketers about how they are doing in relation to consumers and their mobile usage, it will be a disappointing conversation. If you speak to consumers about how brands are doing in terms of truly connecting with them at the mobile level, it will be a disappointing conversation as well. Brands love to toss about the term "omnichannel" as if it is some kind of salvation for the future. They see the true omnichannel as a place where all of their current silos converge and connect to one another. You have your social media fully integrated into your website, which matches up to the retail experience and beyond. It’s a long, hard slog for most brands. We have organizational structure that must be reframed, we have technological and IT infrastructures that are in silos and much more.

The true omnichannel.

The true omnichannel is the consumer. They are already omnichannel. When a consumer is in the parking lot of a retailer, looking to find out what time the store opens at, or what’s on sale on their iPhone or Android device, and they’re suddenly faced with an non-responsive experience, that’s the failure of omnichannel. They’re pinching a screen, can’t find what they’re looking for, the content isn’t relevant to where they are (or what device they’re using). In short, it’s a bad brand experience. The consumer doesn’t care that your IT department has an eighteen month roadmap or that your marketing department is not connected with the technologists or whatever. It’s simply not a consistent brand experience. It’s not a good brand experience, either.

Accepting the reality.

I often talk about this notion of the one screen world. It’s not about mobile, computers, TVs, out of home billboards, tablets or whatever. It’s about connected screens. The only screen that matters is the screen that is in front of me. Screens are everywhere, they’re getting cheaper and more ubiquitous. Because of this, we’re seeing stunning growth on smartphone and tablet adoption, while the PC industry crumbles. It’s old. It’s antiquated. It’s not going to turn around. So, ask yourself this: What percentage of homes in the US do you think have landlines? Would you be surprised to hear that 40% of homes in the US are now without a landline?

True story.

While brands sit around, trying to figure out mobile (and keep it locked in its own, strange, silo that lives somewhere between IT and marketing), consumers have already voted. No more landlines. You need me? I’m mobile. Do you think that this is going to slow down and folks will revert back to landlines any time soon? You may think that this is a piece of data relegated to more technologically savvy cities and that the numbers skew? Not so. According to the Chicago Tribune article, "In the Midwest, the number of wireless-only homes increased more than 4 percentage points to 43.7 percent during the period. Meanwhile, a survey this week says that 47 percent of U.S. consumers say they couldn’t last a day without their smartphones… Also, 91 percent say their mobile phone is just as important as their car and deodorant and most say it is more important than TV or coffee."

Maybe that’s taking things to an extreme?

It’s staggering, isn’t it? We are, for lack of a better word, uncoupling from many of our traditional ways and we never saw it coming. In fact, it’s funny how the mind works. When I read the article mentioned above, all I could think to myself was this: "how long before the same will be said for how we get cable on our TVs?" Then, I quickly realized that we do have things like YouTube and Netflix that are already challenging this model. It looks like Amazon is playing in this space as well. So, as we bid adieu to landlines and plugging our TVs into these cables that have been drilled through our walls, you can’t help but wonder what implications this will all have on the business of marketing?

Place your bets.