On Thursday, February 21, 2013, I had the opportunity to visit the NAACP Financial Freedom Center in Washington DC to attend a panel discussion called “Mobilizing the Emerging Majority“. Before I go into details about how amazingly informative this panel was, let me give you a bit of background on the Emerging Majority and why it’s so relevant to every small business.
There are two parallel discussions that come up if you look for information about the Emerging Majority. One is political in nature – it talks mostly about “ the strengthening alliance between minorities, working and single women, the college educated, and skilled professionals”, or the Emerging Democratic Majority.
The second version drops the Democratic label and refers specifically to the population that will be the Emerging Majority. Which makes this the more relevant discussion to small business, that is, the fact that “People of color – African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics – are individually minorities in America, but together are expected to make up the majority of the country’s population by the year 2020.”
How is this relevant to small business? The most blunt way to put it is that the demographics of the consumer market, and possibly the business to business market, is changing under our feet. We business owners need to continue to understand the populations we would like to sell into – our businesses will depend on successfully marketing to them.
This brings the web into even greater play – most specifically, the mobile web. This is where the majority of web users are shifting their access to, and we need to be there, right now. The wealthier are shifting to tablet use, and those with limited computer access are equipped with cell phones and smart phones.
The panel I attended looked at how the NAACP used a combination of Big Data and a mobile-centric marketing plan to gain access to a population that is traditionally harder to track and reach. Like most small businesses, they didn’t have the budget to reach them through a television ad campaign during a major event such as the Super Bowl.
Their blueprint for how they not only reached this population, but built a database with mobile information, then overcame the challenge of marrying the cell information they had with other data they collected on a limited budget, without alienating end users by appearing to violate their privacy was truly a fascinating discussion.
Every small business is going to face – or is already facing – how to get the attention of people who are being bombarded with information and shifting interests. Several of the lessons they learned when compounded with the challenge of going beyond the web into mobile to solve this problem have direct applications to business owners.
Below are some video clips, photos and key takeaways I was able to gather from the online discussion of the event. There’s nothing like being there, of course, but hopefully these high points can inspire you to prioritize mobile marketing, and reveal some stand-out clues as to why you need to make the shift Now.
The picture above is the #emergemobile Panel, from left to right:
Larry Brown, Jr., NAACPConnect Project Manager
Jamaa Bickley-King, NAACP Data consultant
Tiana Epps-Johnson, New Organizing Institute, Election Administrative Director
Alison Scharman, Revolution Messaging
Jamiah Adams, NAACP Director of Digital Media
While we’re still controlling our growth here at Leveraged Promotion, I tend towards doing our promotions via email, to the extent that our sales pages on the corporate site are actually down. We aren’t working with anyone through this site who we don’t talk to on the phone and vet first.
But that cycle is almost over. By January we’ll be ready to launch a new product line and expand our service offerings again. And that means updating, even overhauling the site, to include sales pages. Which also means: testing on humans.
I don’t mean finding out what happens if a person is denied access to their iPad for seven consecutive days. (Man, I hope it’s not that bad!) I mean, you have a rare opportunity to access groups of bored humans willing to help you, who may have nothing better to do.
And more importantly, can’t run away.
So if your site has ecommerce functions, a blog, or email subscription pages, land some live humans at your site, and watch what they do, in real time.
The less they know about the internet, what you or your company website does, or web design the better. Best case scenario is if they don’t know you’re even affiliated with the site in any way.
Brutally honest answers, which is what you need.
Some sample questions to ask:
What do you love about this site?
What do you hate about this site?
Do you have any idea what this site is for?
Would you buy the products here? why or why not?
When you clicked/saw something did you expect it to behave differently?
Does this site seem modern to you?
Do you trust the information in this blog?
Are you getting impatient with how long it takes to load?
If you could add anything to this site to make it better, what would it be?
What if you absolutely had to remove something on this website, what would you get rid of first?
Now, you may not need to take all their suggestions to heart: when my then 11-year old friend’s daughter asked if we could include rainbows, I politely declined.
But viewing a fashion site through her eyes made me see how easy it was to get to the clothing — and how borderline risqué some of the pictures were. This ultimately helped me solve a problem for a client that we were too close to observe: many of the women we targeted, thought the way the new models were dressed and posed was not safe for work.
This explained why they’d lost so many browsers at noon, which used to be their busiest time of day for purchases.
Try this exercise with whoever you have available at home – you’ll be surprised at what you find out.