Bad Girl, Good Business

Don’t Stand So Close to Me…Is Proximity Marketing Cool or Creepy?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Not only will Santa know if you’ve been naughty or nice this year…

But he may also know exactly when you’re leaving for grandmother’s house…and his brand elves may encourage you to stop for a pumpkin spice latte en route. When you see mommy kissing Santa Claus, you can capture the moment with Snap’s Spectacles and make sure her moment doesn’t remain secret for long. In short, privacy is a ghost of Christmas past.

Is all this marketing technology cool or creepy?

I was on my way back from my Thanksgiving feast in Maryland (which I only commemorated with one Facebook photo), but I was prompted all weekend long by my various devices to share my location with others.  On my five-hour drive back, my Waze guide urged me to stop and get pizza and coffee, tempting me with coupons.

As a marketer, I am fascinated by location-based marketing, especially when it can help local merchants capture share of wallet by building awareness when new prospects are nearby. Geofencing and beacons have been around for a while, but marketers are becoming more aware of the techology and what they can do with it. Easy-to-use targeting apps abound. They aren’t quite smart enough to know that I don’t eat pizza or drink coffee after noon, but I’m sure they will get there at some point, as my individual shopping data is combined with my location data.

Retailers have been experimenting with location-based marketing and have probably been following you around for a while — much as their security guards are on the outlook for shoplifters. You most likely don’t even realize when you’re being geo-stalked.

Brands need to be smart about how they use this incredible power. Otherwise, geo-marketing could just turn into the virtual version of the perfume lady tailing you in the department store and trying to spray you. Tapping the consumer on the shoulder repeatedly and handing him or her a coupon is not how you build a relationship. Being followed on the New Jersey Turnpike by a brand I don’t care about can feel annoying rather than engaging…especially when the sales message is blocking my Waze map.

I interviewed Nada Striatt of Verve Mobile recently and we talked about the importance of the right communication approach for marketers utilizing mobile. Traditional ad agencies may not really “get” that messaging someone on her phone is totally different from running an ad in a magazine. It reminds me of the early days of direct mail, when big ad agencies just thought that a colorful headline and multiple envelopes full of “stuff” was the right way to compel a prospect to buy. Verve not only offers technology to its customers…they consult on creative. Clever!

If you don’t want to be followed this holiday season…

Simply make sure that your location is always in the off position. Create your own personal retail “witness protection program” and you may be able to avoid the clever direct marketers. As for me, I’ll only be turning off my location when I’m under the mistletoe. The rest of the time I’ll be learning from the experiments (both naughty and nice) of the marketers out there.

Location-based marketing is here to stay. Be mindful of who your customers and prospects are, what they find valuable, and how to best reach them. Sounds pretty simple. You just want to deliver the right gifts to the right home at the right time. Just like Santa! He’s wise and jolly, not creepy (although those elves were sometimes a little on the sketchy side.)

Want to learn more about proximity- and local-level marketing? You can follow me here.  And please subscribe to getONit and I’ll send you some great FREE resources for learning more about digital marketing trends. 




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *