4 Rules to Consider When Battling the Marketing Heavyweight, Wearables

As I sit here pondering the numerous topic choices for this month’s column, I returned to my April 7 article “Local Innovation – What’s the Next Big Thing?”. The three areas of innovation I focused on were:

  • Wearables
  • Multi-touch Attribution
  • Visual Search

Well, recent news seems to confirm at least one of my predictions. The announced introduction of the Apple Watch will no doubt accelerate the ‘Wearables’ category as this marketing heavyweight brings more focus to this quickly emerging category. Instead of focusing on the features of the hardware available from a multitude of manufacturers (e.g., Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Pebble), I instead want to think about what it means to the local marketer and how to get ready.

I can hear it already “The chief executive (CEO) would like us to develop a cool app for the new Apple Watch and he needs it by next Tuesday for his presentation to the Field Sales organization.”

The definition of insanity states, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Does anyone remember how many major brands created mobile apps at great expense that received very few downloads and little to no use? I am sorry; an app that helps me make an Auto Insurance claim on my watch is not ‘cool’ nor is it going to change my life. With this in mind I have created four rules when considering how to participate in the wearable app craze that has now begun:

Rule 1 – Apply similar thinking in considering whether or not to build a wearable app from what we have learned from mobile. Will consumers find your proposed functionality engaging, will they use it often or will it be a “one and done” experience? If you believe that your app will get continuous use go for it. If not, save your money.

Rule 2 – Do not repurpose your existing smartphone mobile app as a wearable app. Needless to say the use case of these devises differs greatly. Many brands made there first progression into mobile by replicating an abbreviated version of their desktop website. This is not a sound strategy as the use case is different by devise. Consider the devise and the advantages each provides. For example, if you are developing for Google Glass, the camera and video functionality provide use case opportunities. A moving van line might consider this functionality embedded in an app for inventorying a family’s possessions in developing a moving quote. Additionally, the latest round of wearable introductions centered on the wristwatch provide a number of opportunities for health and fitness apps.

Rule 3 – Leverage wearable apps that leverage locality and are amassing a following. Yelp, OpenTable, Foursquare are examples of companies leveraging the localization provided by wearable apps. These local resources are widely distributed and have a better opportunity for continuous use than, for example, a single brand store locator. An entry-level strategy is to ensure that your listings are accurate and optimized on these resources. For most brands this approach is probably your best bet in terms of gaining additional business revenue from wearables.

Rule 4 – Never leave the CEO hanging. The easy way out for developing a wearable app for the CEO…


…put the company logo on the watch face so he can show it off to his or her friends at the country club. Quick, easy, cost effective.

Wearables will provide local marketers with a host of new opportunities. Begin thinking about how they might apply to your brand or business. And then ask your customers if they would find value in whatever you dream up.

By the way, the definition of insanity quoted above is often misattributed to Albert Einstein. The true author is up for argument, Google or Bing it for more details.

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