Reach Out & Touch

Retailers explore mobile marketing strategies at CRU session

Tim McCallum

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The proliferation of cellphones is forcing retailers to consider mobile-marketing options, especially since the fast-food channel appears to be making headway, said a speaker at this year's CSP Convenience Retailing University conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Focusing on the various cellphone technologies used to reach customers, session speaker Tim McCallum, president and CEO of Raze Media, Dallas, said "SMS" text messaging, "QR" code marketing, mobile applications or "apps" and mobile website development are important and cost-effective tools.

Having worked with numerous clients in the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) field, McCallum cautioned the 35 retailers present at the breakout session that c-stores and QSRs are battling for the same customer.

"You're fighting with high quality foods," he said. "QSRs have chosen to fight with technology."

Strategies include specific, time-sensitive specials sent via text to a focused set of customers, possibly pared down by zip code or age group.

McCallum stressed the importance of mobile marketing by speaking about the explosion of cell phone use in recent years. Providing statistics from various sources, he said 5.2 billion people subscribe to cellphones, with cellphones outnumbering TVs and computers in the very near future. Where it may take four days for a person to view an email, the average cell phone subscriber will view a new message within four minutes.

He offered a list of do's and don'ts for retailers interested in developing mobile-marketing campaigns, including the following:


  • Keep marketing materials fresh and update them often.
  • Attach an offer to your opt-in campaign.
  • Text customers deep discounts over a short period of time yields high ROIs.
  • Use contests and giveaways to maintain the database.


  • Broadcast too frequently or too little. The recommendation: two times per month.
  • Broadcast announcements that can be found in other media.
  • Ask for data or information without rewarding the consumer.
  • Create elaborate messages longer than 140 characters.

With regards to mobile payments, McCallum said simpler technology exists that allow for a semblance of mobile payment, but true mobile payment technology has to become faster and less complex for the customer.