Business and financial management solutions specialist Intuit and mobile communications giant Nokia announced an alliance to develop and deliver a new mobile and Web-based marketing service for small to medium-size businesses around the world. The first market launch of the service is expected in the fourth quarter of 2010, the companies announced through a joint statement, when further details will be made available at that time.
Nokia is the world's largest mobile device manufacturer as well as a provider of digital mapping and navigation services, covering more than 70 countries in over 45 languages; there are more than 1.3 billion Nokia mobile devices in use around the world. Inuit is known for developing solutions to help small businesses improve their bottom line with offerings such as QuickBooks and Intuit Websites.
Intuit global business division president Alex Lintner said small businesses need every advantage to stay ahead of the pack in today's competitive environment. "We plan to offer them a way to strengthen customer relationships, through targeted communications that increase sales by delivering more customer visits," he said. "We're applying the same proven formula we've used with QuickBooks to help small businesses succeed by better serving their customers. We are thrilled to partner with Nokia to bring our respective areas of expertise to bear in developing this revolutionary service."
Robert Andersson, senior vice president and head of corporate alliances and business development at Nokia, called the alliance a "significant step" that he expects would create future growth opportunities. "Working with Intuit, we are developing a breakthrough service to help small businesses deepen relationships with their customers, leveraging our expertise in mobile and location based services," he said. "We believe this will benefit consumers too, by helping them find their favourite products and services in the right place, at the right time and at the best price."
The Better Business Bureau, an organization of businesses supporting consumer rights, offers small businesses tips on how to effectively market in the mobile age, calling mobile marketing an increasingly effective way for small business owners to tap into a younger customer base. According to a recent survey by JiWire, more than 50 percent of mobile users would like to receive location-specific advertising; another 39 percent would like to receive location-based coupons.
"Lacking the time, know-how and money to launch an effective online marketing strategy can make many small business owners neglect the whole endeavor," said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. "The good news about mobile marketing is that you don't necessarily need to dedicate a lot of time or money into a campaign to reap some rewards."
The organization recommends employing social networking site Foursquare--which boasts 3 million users-- a mobile app that allows you to "check in" at locations, including businesses, which tells other Foursquare users where businesses are. The BBB also recommended Facebook and Yelp, another social networking site the organization said is well suited for small businesses.
Yelp allows users to post reviews of businesses, services, locations and events. According to the company, 33 million people visited the site in June 2010. In addition to the website, Yelp also provides a mobile version with an interactive map and allows users to "check in" at locations. After "unlocking" their location, businesses can offer coupons through Yelp, update business information and promote events.
Timothy Doherty, research analyst for SMB mobility at IT research firm IDC, said small businesses have a strong appetite for tools that can help them reach their customers and attract new ones. "There is a real opportunity for cost effective solutions that allow small businesses to proactively target the mobile customer with highly contextual offerings based on location and past purchase behavior," he said.