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Mobile Marketing For Small Businesses - Part 1

Other Articles In This Series

Part 2 – What are some of the marketing options for each of the device categories

Part 3 – A look at some of the data available to help us decide on which mobile category to target

Part 4 – Taking a look at some mobile experiences

Part 5 - Some Considerations For Small Business Budgets And Mobile

Part 6 - What Options Do Mobile Users Really Need and Want

As a small business it can be over whelming to have and keep up with so many options for marketing. I hate to say it, but I am going to cover a very popular and fairly new platform for marketing, mobile.

We almost all carry a cellphone and most of us carry a smartphone. Mobile phones have become as prevalent as wallets or purses for most people. In fact, I find myself asking whether I have my keys, wallet and phone every time I leave a restaurant, friends house or anywhere else I go.

An important aspect of marketing to mobile users is understanding what the various mobile devices are. In this VERY introductory post, I will explain what each type of device is. This will provide the foundation for our marketing options with regard to mobile devices.

Dumb Phones - Only What Phones Were Made For


Dumb phones are commonly defined as not Smartphones, but that's not very helpful. The best way to think of dumb phones is to think of just a calling device. They are like a cordless phone at your house that you can carry anywhere. They are also the most inexpensive mobile phone you can buy. Here's a list of what they do and do not do:


  • Store Contacts
  • Have a frequently called list
  • Show battery levels
  • Show that you have missed a call or have a voicemail
  • Show calls that you have made
  • Make phone calls
  • Have greyscale, monochromatic screens
  • Have phone number, call, end call keys

Do Not:

  • Have web browsers for viewing web pages
  • Have an email client
  • Have the abilities to run Apps (CNN, Calculators, Sports Scores, 2D Barcode Scanners, etc...)
  • Have the ability to send text messages
  • Have a media player for listening to music
  • Have internet access
  • Cameras
  • Many more things...
  • Have touch screens

Feature Phones - A Big Step Up With Additional Functionality

Feature Phones are a category of mobile devices that support much more functionality beyond just making calls and checking voicemail. They are certainly not to the level of smartphones but they offer much more than a dumbphone.

Feature phones are a bit pricier than dumb phones, but they offer commonly used features for most mobile users.

Here's a list:


  • Have All of the dumb phone features plus...
  • Provide text messaging
  • Have Music players
  • Have Cameras
  • Have basic calendars
  • Run pre-installed apps and some Network supplied apps
  • Have basic web browsers with VERY limited capabilities
  • Some have internet access
  • Some have email clients
  • Some have social media apps
  • Have low resolution color screens
  • Scan 2D Barcodes
  • Some have touch screens
  • Some have QWERTY keyboards (hardware or software)

Do Not:

  • Have rich web browsers on par with desktop browsers
  • Have an app store for downloading and installing new apps
  • Have a feature-heavy contact system integrated with social networks, etc...
  • Have a high resolution screen
  • Play non-home movies
  • Multi-task, allowing you to view email and listen to music at the same time
  • Navigate with GPS
  • Connect to a wifi hotspot
  • Provide wifi hotspot technology
  • Have instant messaging clients
  • Have e-book reading apps like Kindle, Nook, and Google ebooks
  • Have remote PC management apps
  • Have apps for YouTube, Facebook, etc...

Apps are really a huge differentiator between smart phones and feature phones.

Smartphones - Personal Computers In Your Palm


Smartphones can do it all, from video and photo editing to remotely working on your office computer. These are the powerhouses of the bunch. They cost more than any other phones, but they are more technically advanced than my first laptop back in 2001.

Smartphones can do everything that the other phones can do PLUS the list of items that Feature Phones do not do.

As I mentioned at the end of the Do Not list under feature phones, Apps are a real defining factor with smartphones. Some other characteristics of smartphones include:

  • A full-color, higher resolution screen
  • A fast processor
  • Dedicated memory for running apps
  • Onboard and often removable storage for apps and media
  • Larger in size, ranging from 3-4.5 inches diagonally.
  • Comparable in capabilities to a netbook
  • Full QWERTY keyboards in software or hardware
  • Touch screens, touch pads (for scrolling and moving the mouse) or track balls (same)
  • Are typically 1 of 4 main operating systems (listed by market share):
    • Android by Google
    • iOS by Apple
    • Blackberry
    • Windows Phone by Microsoft

Tablets - A Renewed Platform Finally Taking Hold


While tablets are most certainly not a new technology, the new array of tablets are the first to truly catch on and become popular. Starting with the launch of Apple's iPad last year, tablets have become all the rage. For smartphone manufacturers and operating system providers (listed above), the leap from a smartphone with a touch screen is very small. Yes, there are battery challenges with bigger screens and the technical specs need boosted, but tablets are really just smartphones with big screens and no calling capabilities (for now). Tablets range in screen size from 5-13 inches which includes various resolutions.

Tablets have app stores and many of the app stores are mirrors of the smartphone versions.

Differences In Mobile Devices With Regard To Marketing

Now that we have a baseline understanding of what the various types of mobile devices are, I would like to take these same categories and talk about their implications for small business mobile marketing. Check back later in the week for the next post in this series, and as always, contact us to explore options for small business marketing strategy!