The State of Location Based Marketing

Yesterday’s Explore conference was a great opportunity to ignite my appreciation for smart people doing cool things in digital.  Jason Falls‘ signature event was well attended, well catered and included several social power-houses from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I’m not only a social practitioner, I’m also a fan of good thinking.

Aaron pontificates. Adrian preaches.

Aaron Strout, who literally wrote the book on location based marketing, invited me to speak during his session, The State of Location Based Marketing.

Though I was 1 week into a new job and knee-deep in to-dos, I’m glad I didn’t decline.  We chatted it up about several developments, perspectives and predictions in location technology.

Aaron was kind enough to post a list of resources on WCG’s blog so I highly encourage a click over to that.  Below are some of the high points of our conversation:

Starting a Location Program

When we started the inaugural location marketing program at RadioShack, there wasn’t a big appetite for embracing this unproven tactic.  This created the perfect petri dish for a digital experiment because no one cared if we succeeded or failed, as long as we didn’t lose money.  This low bar made the phenomenal results even more noteworthy.  Through iterative campaigns with foursquare, MyTown, Google Places and Gowalla, we were able to prototype a social/mobile/local campaign (SoMoLo) that yielded positive business results.

The key to starting was just that, starting.  Perhaps the biggest hurdle was ensuring store compliance with the check-in offers and proper tracking of the transactions.  These were executional items solved by education.  Simply starting a test is the best way to exercise a company’s SoMoLo muscles and assessing whether or not you’re ready for the big time.

Pitfalls to Watch

When Aaron asked about potential pitfalls agencies and brands should watch out for when developing a location marketing plan, I immediately thought of two that plague many a social souls:

  1. Crossing SignalsRelatively few mobile users are broadcasting their activities via location based applications.  The overwhelming majority actually access geo-location services on their cell phones to receive information like directions, price comparisons, reviews and other data that enhances a physical activity.  Contrary to popular opinion, not every one is a social butterfly.  Brands must become butlers and serve consumers information on their terms.  The way to add the most value is not by merely broadcasting marketing messages, but by creating content consumers can receive when they’re ready.  Check your signal.
  2. Shortsighted Thinking – Can you imagine if people were texting and Tweeting during the O.J. Simpson trial?  Me either.  Because in 1995 the average cell phone sent a measly .4 text messages per day and Twitter was an unborn idea inside the skull of a NYU college student.  Fast-forward to the present and the average texter sends or receives 41.5 messages per day!  Why should brands care?  Why will I care?  Because as smartphone adoption increases, location based tools will become the norm.  Don’t make the mistake of taking a short-term view of today’s emerging technology.  Instead, test the applications that are right for your business and make your mistakes now.  Think long term.

SoMoLo at Intuit

More than 40% of the nation’s tax filings this year will flow through Intuit software.  The very DNA of our brand is about delighting customers with service, ease and convenience.  As a software company this means we lack one critical component of a location based marketing plan – locations.

Or do we?

Enabling consumers with software and services doesn’t require a physical location, it simply requires a connection.  In my new role, I’m looking forward to cracking the code on how we leverage SoMoLo to enable our clients.  Targeting small business owners, accountants and consumers via a location offer on foursquare or Google Places is highly efficient.  Or how about empowering individuals to find financial help and resources via social and local recommendations?  Better yet, why not offer 1-click access on smartphones for downloading tax incentives and guides that are customized to your specific area?  I have work to do, can’t wait.

Tweet of Wisdom

In closing, Aaron asked me to offer a final, Twitter-sized pearl of wisdom in 140 characters or less.  Let me know what you think:

1 Comment

Filed under Interactive Marketing, Location Based Marketing, Mobile

One response to “The State of Location Based Marketing

  1. Adrian – great write up. Thanks for recapping and thanks again for joining me. Look forward to more of these discussions!

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