Nov. 2, 2009 – OEMs test new marketing waters

By Jeff Hemmel
Contributing writer
Like nearly every brand today, PWC manufacturers are trying their best to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to getting their message to consumers. The current medium of choice? The mobile phone. Specifically, the mobile smart phone, a class of devices that practically puts one’s home computer in the palm of the hand.
Here’s how two manufacturers — Yamaha and Sea-Doo — are navigating uncharted waters.

Yamaha: ‘The Time Is Now’
Yamaha WaterCraft recently announced the launch of the company’s official mobile phone services, an effort that will allow consumers to receive mobile alerts containing news, product info, promotions and incentives, new accessories and more.
“The mobile handset is truly becoming the third screen in people’s lives, next to the TV and Internet, and it clearly has the potential to become the most powerful and pervasive communications device in our lives,” said Yamaha WaterCraft Group National Marketing Manager Bryan Seti. “The barriers that have been prohibiting a full mass adoption of advanced smart phones are being rolled back with the iPhone, Android and other significant advancements in consumer electronics and mobile software over the past few years.”
To call attention to the rollout, Yamaha is featuring a mobile sweepstakes through Dec. 16. Sign up for the services at the Yamaha Web site (www.yamaha-motor.com) or text the word WAVE or BOAT (depending upon your area of interest), and consumers will be automatically entered.
According to Seti, the mobile scenario opens the doors to new opportunities for not only the manufacturer, but also their local dealers. “The mobile handset provides location-based marketing opportunities that we think will be vital to assisting our dealers,” he said. Location-based marketing allows the advertiser to target messages to viewers’ specific locales or regions, making the ad more relevant. “There’s also a host of emerging technologies, such as augmented reality, that will forever change the way people learn about and buy products.
“The time is now. We want to be on the forefront of this movement, toward the new ‘device of choice.’ We know this is where more and more information will be consumed, shared and created, and we want our customers and future customers to build a relationship with our brand through this platform.”

‘Instant Info’
Sea-Doo also is using the mobile platform, although it has been an unofficial, low-key launch developed by WaterTop Unlimited on behalf of the brand. Currently, WaterTop has focused on the ever-popular Twitter, a social network that allows users to spread short messages to followers. WaterTop’s Tim McKercher used the service during the recent IJSBA World Finals, giving followers instant updates on race results when Sea-Doos were successful. He also has “tweeted” about magazine tests as they happened, and updated followers where and when to look for the results.
“There are mixed feelings on the whole social networking thing, and the effort to be expended vs. actual return on effort,” said McKercher. “But it’s just another way to get the word out there…and it’s about as instant info as you can get.”
Since mobile followers have to essentially “opt in” to the process, it’s also, in essence, a growing collection of pre-qualified consumers. People who sign on to receive a brand’s message want it, so it’s not really any type of invasive marketing. The catch for the sender, however, is once you start, you need to keep the flow of information coming. “It’s like sending a super, mini, instant newsletter,” continued McKercher. “But the key is you have to stay active. You have to keep it fresh.”
Like many, McKercher thinks this trend will only grow. “Now with the ability to include photos, and graphically designed ‘mini ads’ being sent to the phone, I think that will grow. I can see little videos being part of that, and static ads. To me I think that’s where Twitter is cool…because if you want it, you get it instantly.
“It’s just another way for people to get more connected, and be more connected to the brand.”

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