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John Lim is a consummate entrepreneur with a proven track record, who has built and sustained a successful 15-year professional career in mobile telecommunications and marketing strategies. He founded multiple companies, including On Site Marketing, Mobile Card Cast and most recently, Life in Mobile, all of which have been successful in capitalizing on the power of mobile. John’s knowledge and accomplishments have been covered by the Mobile Marketing Association, featured in the Michael Becker book, Marketing for Dummies, and discussed in a chapter of Allan Dalton’s best-selling book, Leveraging Your Links. He has spoken at events both domestically and internationally, providing expertise on how to monetize mobile. All of John’s endeavors have solidified his position as a true visionary in the mobile space.
Life in Mobile is a global mobile monetization agency headquartered in New York. They specialize in the strategic development and implementation of mobile technology in order to monetize their clients’ initiatives. Their patent-pending Dynamic Intelligent Profiling™ technology changes the way consumers interact with your brand as it allows you to tailor the consumer journey based on real-world conditions affecting the consumer, such as time and weather, as well as past user behavior.
MO: What does it feel like to be called a “visionary in the mobile space?” Can you recall the first time that you realized that your perception and understanding of the mobile space was different than your peers?
John: It is an honor to be called a visionary. And, at the same time, it is also a challenge. The mobile space is always changing at an incredibly fast pace. So, while it is a challenge to be called a visionary, it is one I am ready to accept. I look forward to continually innovating products and technology that allow our partners to strategically monetize mobile.
I cannot recall the first time I realized my perception was different, but it was early on and often that I found myself in situations that made this clear. Describing what I believe has happened in mobile is best explained in comparing mobile to the gold rush. Everyone rushed into the gold mines trying to make the most money they could, in the fastest time possible. No one actually sat down and thought about having the most sustainable mine. Mobile has acted in a similar fashion. Everyone rushed in and started treating mobile as if it were digital. This is a huge mistake in the industry, and is one of the main messages I try to get across. Mobile is not digital, and people must realize this in order to succeed in monetizing mobile.
MO: Can you talk a bit about the process of creating a platform that allows non-geeks to geek out?
John: Absolutely. Let the record show that there is no doubt about it, I am a wannabe geek. Ever since I was young, I was drawn to all types of electronics, particularly wireless communication toys. I had so many ideas about products I wanted to build. I could visualize them, create the interface flow and figure out how to sell them; however, translating my ideas into programming language was a skill I knew others were better at than I am.
My true geeks eventually became frustrated with me always asking them to tweak something after they spent hours building it. I knew there had to be a better way. The end result was the creation of our new DIP technology, which allows all of us non-geeks to build extremely complex algorithms by simply clicking on drop-down menus. Now, I can finally let my inner geek out. Well, at least a little bit.
MO: How are you empowering your clients with the necessary strategies and tools to successfully monetize their marketing initiatives across any mobile channel?
John: We listen. We ask a lot of questions. And, we listen some more. Mobile is always grouped with digital, but mobile is not digital. The mobile consumer is one we’ve never seen before; they are affected by real-world conditions that don’t affect them in the digital world – the biggest factor being weather. So, it’s important to keep this in mind when asking questions about a clients current marketing initiatives, as well as when we are strategizing how to effectively integrate mobile into those initiatives.
Strategically, a huge focus of Life in Mobile is on traditional marketing. So much real estate is not being utilized; all of your traditional marketing pieces – print, billboard, packaging, etc. – should be mobilized. This is where mobile is the most powerful and interactive.
We are always on the lookout for great tools to successfully monetize mobile. Today, education is the number one tool. Technologically speaking, we are big on making mobile smarter. We use a Reactive Analytics™ engine to help our clients keep up with the fast-paced mobile consumer; while users are interacting with your brand, this engine is analyzing the interaction and real-world conditions surrounding the user, and reacting to these conditions in real-time.
MO: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
John: I left college at 19 to start Global Telcom, an authorized AT&T wireless dealer. It started off slow, but I caught a break when I bought my first laptop at Computer City. I was talking with the manager and before I knew it, I had a kiosk in their two busiest locations in the country. For a year, I was a trailblazer, rising to be in the top five dealers in New York at just 20 years old.
Then, the hammer dropped. Comp USA bought out Computer City and I had 48 hours to get my items out of the store, otherwise they belonged to the liquidators. At the time, I was young and dumb, so blinded by the race that I didn’t have a contingency plan. I lost everything.
Although it all crashed down on me, it was the greatest thing that could have happened. I started a new company shortly after in the promotional marketing space and became one of the largest third party marketing firms for Anheuser-Busch. I am a big believer that you need to fail before you can succeed. Failure is something you cannot be taught in school or learn by reading a book; it has to happen to you firsthand. I learned more from that one failure than I did in all my years of school, and it helped shape who I am today.
MO: What are some tips for building a solid mobile strategy?
John: So many people think that mobile is going to miraculously change the results of their campaign. It won’t if it is not done properly. If you just put a text-in or QR code on your marketing pieces and expect magic to happen, then you are in serious trouble; this is why a mobile strategy is so important.
The first step is to think mobile first. You must mobilize everything – your packaging, print materials, billboards, etc. It makes sense to use these traditional means of marketing as your gateway to mobile as there is no competition when a user texts in or a scans a QR code.
Next, you need to ensure you have a clear call-to-action. If you use a QR code, you need to tell me why I should scan. Do not just put a QR code somewhere and hope that I participate.
After these two steps, you must cover all your ASSets. This is often forgotten, but it is the most important. Consumers are using mobile to interact with your brand through various touchpoints, such as email, direct URL, QR code and SMS; you need to ensure all these touchpoints work correctly when accessed via a mobile device. You do not need an App, although you may want one, but you do need to properly mobilize your website and all digital links.
Last, you must listen, and put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. Ask yourself, why would I pull out my phone and take 60 seconds of my life to participate with this marketing piece? Looking at things from a consumers’ perspective is tremendously useful in rounding out your mobile strategy.
MO: Where does your strong entrepreneurial spirit come from?
John: My grandmother. In fifth grade, she was my partner on my first venture: a paper route. She taught me the importance of being on time, talking to people a certain way and properly managing money. It amazed me how much a particular time or day effected my income; I made more money if the paper was at your door before a certain time, as well as if I collected my money on a certain day of the week and time of the month.
MO: How are you opening up new opportunities for brands to generate unprecedented ROI from their mobile marketing initiatives?
John: I am asking questions and listening. The key is to listen and understand your consumer. We are seeing a new breed of consumer: the mobile consumer. We have not seen a new consumer like this since the advent of the car. And, because this mobile consumer is different from any we have seen before, it is important that they are treated differently.
As I’ve previously mentioned, traditional marketing is comprised of underutilized real estate that has lots of opportunity to be mobilized at little incremental cost, and it generates a high ROI. Anything that has your brand on it – TV, radio, print, packaging – all of it should be mobilized. This is the perfect way to engage consumers by providing them with an interactive experience that strengthens the relationship between them and your brand.
The bottom line is that it is our job to help clients monetize mobile. The mobile device is a gateway for consumers to interact on a personal level with your brand. And, it is not just about offers, it is about the consumer experience. This is why we created the DIP platform, so you can market to the masses, but speak to the individual on a personal, one-on-one basis. The possibilities are endless.