In a previous blog I talked about how brands such as Subway could use Location Based Services (LBS) to promote their products to school students as a next step from their service where you can text your order through to the store. Location (x3) used to be the mantra of the retail industry, especially when consumers didn’t move far from their homes or work area. Of course today people are far more mobile.
I have frequently spoken about the value of PR as being far superior to advertising, which is a major problem for advertisers themselves. With Tivo, MySky and other services we can avoid TVC’s and with more and more people going online for their news, the advertising in print gets less views. The key point I make though is that people don’t trust advertising. In my Geosmart Blog, I wrote about the impact of this and the need to find different ways to deal with this.
Earlier this year in Amsterdam I spoke to a number of people who are developing expertise in the areas of social networking’ LBS and proximity based marketing and a common thread to this was in fact trust.
The marketers tell us that if the guys wear Lynx hygiene products, the girls will come running. In a previous blog, Why Do People Still Smoke? I showed a video of a doctor expousing the benefits of smoking. It’s no wonder that marketers and sales people are often looked at as shiny shoed spin doctors.
In 2006 Gallup asked pollsters to rate the values and ethics of a number of industry groups. Advertisers scored 11% on the high trust scale. Harris did a similar poll the same year and found that in contrast 66% of people trusted the ordinary man or woman in the street.
Amongst the changes that are happening in many areas these days are consumer advocates. Because people don’t trust advertising, and in many cases with good cause, they are turning to other consumers for advice. When I went to Jamaica a couple of years ago, I used Travelocity to read reviews from people who stayed at various resorts and used their feedback to book my stay and was pleased to find everything as I expected. As a consequence, I also used them to make my booking.
If 66% of consumers are happy to trust the man in the street, then what if we could give them access to their peers. This is of course where social networking comes in. Typically in a social networking environment, whether it is Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, doesn’t matter, we end up developing online relationships (and real ones) with people that we associate with, that share our values and interests.
Mobile phones now offer a vehicle to extend the social networks into location. People now meet up in different parts of the world as a consequence of their location. I can use a number of applications to ask people in my network about local shops, accomodation or anything else. If I’m in LAX for 6 hours waiting for a connecting flight, I can go onto Twitter on my mobile and see if any of my friends are nearby, or ask them what’s worth seeing, where is a good place for a coffee or a meal etc. I will then get their recommendation based on their local knowledge or experience. I can trust their feedback.
So I was talking about Proximity Based Marketing. If consumer advocacy is the most reliable form of marketing, there is an opportunity for brands to harness this. Off course the codicil is that they have to provide a great product or service because otherwise the mention will be poor and they need to be consistent.
One concept I’ve considered is a loyalty program around a hospitality brand, it could be a chain of bars, cafes or any other organisation. They could have a program whereby you got rewards for bringing other people to their establishment. For example, use a social network around their brand (a starting point could be as simple as a Facebook Fan Page) and then use your mobile to see which of your friends are in the neighbourhood. You could have an impromptu meet up at Starbucks and have the ability to send your friends an electronic coupon on their mobile, together with turn by turn directions and a map, to show them how to get there.
I’ve blogged previously about distressed inventory and Proximity Based Marketing. Imagine you go to the Cirque du Soleil and book via your ticket agency who is also a social networking site, such as EventFinder. A few hours before the show you get a TXT message offering you a deal if you can entice some other people to come along. You then use the location part of their application on your mobile to see where your friends are (as I do with Google Latitude) and send them a message with an electronic coupon to join you at the show, with a 40% discount.
A number of popular web portals, such as AA Maps, Wises, Google, allow you to rate / review businesses or locations on their portal. Wouldn’t it be good if you could access this data on your mobile in real time? But it would be even better if you can link a real time recommendation from a ‘friend’ to a location based service. Where’s a good place to get a coffee at Miami Beach? A friend replies with a name of a cafe, which automatically gets linked to their geocode (location coordinates) and as your mobile knows where you are, it can then request and display turn by turn directions and the map. The friend then adds, “If you can get there for 2PM I’ll meet you there.”
All the pieces are already in place and Beta sites are starting to pop up, offering these sorts of services. GeoSmart can provide the tools and data required for New Zealand and are already working with parties to support better maps and Location Based Service for New Zealand. Perhaps you should start thinking about how you can use location and consumer advocacy to drive forward your business.
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