Feature Article

October 03, 2013

Government Shutdown May Require a Shift in Mobile Marketing Tactics

While it’s a popular theme on cable news this week that “the government is closed but *I* haven’t been affected,” media outlets with more journalistic integrity have brought to light the legions of federal workers who, as of Tuesday, are no longer drawing paychecks (though some are still expected to work), the lower-income women and children who have lost assistance from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional assistance program, the FBI agents expected to keep the nation safe for no pay, the halted medical research and the shuttered national parks and monuments.

Government shutdowns work a bit like car trouble. While the car may appear to be working OK on the outside – for now – a peek under the hood will reveal that all is not well . . . particularly if you need to fly anywhere. Private businesses will be affected in more tangential ways (not in the least lost business from federal workers who can’t afford to do any shopping). Dropping consumer confidence may lead to a contraction in the slowly (very slowly) improving economy, which is bad news for retailers.

 “The shutdown triggers confusion and concerns from consumers,” Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, New York, told Mobile Marketer. “What they see are businesses shutting down and instability from authorities. A byproduct of their uncertainty may lead to consumers to be more conservative with spending. If the shutdown is ongoing, the entire marketing industry will feel strain and impact.”

Stuart says one bright spot may be in the mobile marketing arena, which has a great deal more momentum from customers today than other channels. Customers may spend more time than ever on their mobile phones, checking for news (or dark comedy) from Washington, and this represents an opportunity for mobile marketers.

Image courtesy Shutterstock
“The shutdown offers an opportunity for marketers to move closer to consumers and ease their confusion and concern,” Stuart told Mobile Marketer. “Right now, consumers are looking for trust, stability and security. Mobile is a personal device that enables intimate dialogue and engagement between marketers and consumers. Companies have the opportunity to use mobile to provide value to consumers and prove their brands can still be trusted during these complicated times.”

Since consumers spend more conservatively during times of economic uncertainly, it may be the time to build mobile marketing plans around necessities, or “comfort items,” Stuart says.

“The shutdown may curb marketers from testing new mobile tactics or shifting their budgets when there is a risk of consumers spending more conservatively,” he added.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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