Locate This!

Location-based marketing is fostering a lot of buzz in the B2C marketing community. Being able to reach potential customers who are in close proximity of your business in order to provide them with an incentive to visit is something that has business owners salivating.

An article written by John Arnold and published today on the Business Insider War Room provides an excellent overview of the methods currently in use to foster location-based marketing exchanges. Read the Beginner’s Guide to Location-Based Marketing by clicking on this link.

While most of the services highlighted (referred to as location-based services – LBS) in the 16 slide presentation require active participation from the customer (e.g., logging in), a couple highlight passive approaches to location-based marketing such as bluetooth connections (e.g., ProximityMedia in the USA, Bluetooth Proximity Marketing Solutions in the UK). The UK seems to be ahead of the USA in developing and implementing this technology, including the use of Blue Onboard – a transit delivery system of bluetooth marketing messages. For location-based marketing to “catch fire”, after the initial active opt-in (permanent, temporary by location, or ad hoc), the services need to provide consumers with the capability of passively receiving information from local businesses. For instance, if I check in using a location-based service once I arrive in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, notices of offers from the Black Rose Pub or Comedy Club at Cheers should arrive on my mobile phone over the course of the evening. Even better, if I enable my bluetooth connection once I arrive in the Quincy Market Colonnade, offers should arrive automatically based on my proximity to the business who is advertising.

One can envision a time (but it’s probably already happening!) that after you walk into one restaurant, an ad from a competing restaurant is sent to your mobile phone highlighting reasons to frequent them instead and offering an incentive to do so.

Regardless of how location-based social networking and marketing evolves, it is clearly the future of B2C marketing, including via GPS systems used for driving assistance (similar to mobile phones, another potential advertising venue and ordering system – imagine entering and paying for your Dunkin Donuts order from your GPS as you pull up to the store).

Limitations today include technology and an overwhelming public concern for privacy. I, for one, am not as concerned about publicly divulging my location as I am excited about finding deals or hidden gems in the places that I frequent. And at some point, as more businesses utilize location-based marketing, it has the potential to become overwhelming – resulting in too many offers deluging an individual and thus becoming a turn-off.

For marketers, it will be exciting to see how the LBS landscape shakes out over the next three years. Although the list of location-based social networking links provided here is extensive, it doesn’t include some important ancillary contenders such as Groupon. Astute marketers will be proactive in their embrace of LBS.

Location-Based Marketing: coming soon to a location near you……

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