While listening to the questions during our Webinar on Wednesday (4/21) on the promise of mobile couponing, I was reminded of Aesop’s famous fable and the spin my grandfather gave it many years ago.
My grandfather was a veteran of both world wars, an Annapolis graduate, a man who had travelled to every corner of the globe. He asked me one day when I was about 5 if I had heard the story. “Of course, Grampa,” I said.
“Well, do you believe it?” he continued.
“I guess so.”
“Son,” he said, “It was a very long time ago, and I was young, but I saw the whole thing. The hare never fell asleep. He was too keen to win.”
“Then how did the tortoise beat him, Grampa?”
“Simple,” the old man said with a chuckle and s smile. “He cheated.”
I drew a sharp breath, and my eyes got wide. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Now, don’t get a frown,” my grandfather continued, “he didn’t do anything sneaky or mean. He just started early.
“You see, the hare wanted to wait until his handsome new jogging suit came in the mail, and the mail didn’t come until four o’clock. The tortoise had nothing but an old set of sweats, but that was good enough for him, so he started off around two. By the time the hare showed up, the race was almost over. He ran as fast as the wind, and his jogging suit looked great, but there was no way he could win.”
“Didn’t the hare complain?”
Grandfather laughed. “Oh, of course. Of course he did! But the reporters were all around the tortoise, so nobody listened. After that, the tortoise got the book deal and the talk shows — and don’t forget the movie. The poor old hare never got a word in edgewise.”
So what do these memories have to do with mobile marketing? As it turns out, plenty. Mobile is sweeping through media in general — and online media in particular — like a growing tide. Some media planners have decided to take a calm, wait-and-see attitude toward getting into the game. “Why go to the trouble and expense to develop our mobile platform now?” they ask. “In a few years, everything will be cheaper, and we’ll have a better idea which way things are heading.” In other words, they are taking the hare’s strategy.
Others (the media planners I agree with, by the way) think more like the tortoise. They may not have the perfect tools or the biggest budgets, but they will begin working in the mobile space as soon as they can, using the resources available to them. If SMS is too expensive, they’ll try mobile portal delivery. They’ll learn how to build apps, and how to take advantage of a growing number of GPS platforms. By the time their more cautious counterparts decide the time is finally right, they will already have won the race.
Starting early. Is it really cheating? No, but it may seem that way to the competitors you beat.