It’s no secret that mobile marketing is the future of the marketing field. Smartphones, tablets, and (on rarer occasions) lightweight laptops are transitioning the marketing objective from fighting for space directly in front of the target to competing for real estate in locations that the target might visit. For many businesses, mobile social media strategies have surpassed all other avenues as the go-to marketing forum. (Facebook’s mobile advertising accounted for almost half of its total advertising revenue last quarter.) And although sharing social media content is certainly useful, the verdict is still out on what the next level of mobile interaction could entail.
Proximity marketing is a new strategy designed to fill that niche, and with promising initial numbers, there’s good reason to be optimistic about its potential.
What is Proximity Marketing?
Proximity marketing is the wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular place. Distribution may be via a traditional localized broadcast, or more commonly is specifically targeted to devices known to be in a particular area.
Designed with mobile use in mind, proximity marketing uses bluetooth and WIFI to connect a specific location’s message to an umbrella of mobile devices. Changing the conversation from whom one’s target might be, to where one can find a plethora of targets—or more importantly where the most efficient place is to embed a message—translates to an improved ROI.
Proximity Marketing in Retail
Retail has proved itself to be the first industry to fully embrace proximity marketing. And with so many businesses fighting for the same customers, it’s easy to understand why proximity marketing has manifested as a viable strategy.
Suppose a marketing team for a major retailer is given the task to boost sales in a certain mall or shopping center. The team, knowing that discounts drive traffic, decides to run a campaign highlighting slashed prices at the said store. Traditionally, a social media push would probably suffice as the main marketing option (assuming they have a local page created). But, as is the main obstacle in social media marketing, their message would remain stunted, reaching only those who are already friends/followers of the business (and who are most likely loyal customers anyway). Perhaps they decide to buy space in a local publication or on radio airwaves. Again, a practical option, but still their message would be stunted, targeting only those who are fans and consumers of that medium.
Proximity marketing was designed as a tool to combat both of these objectives. If the team is versed in PM, they could choose to install routers in their store projecting the message WEEKEND SALE: BUY ONE GET ONE HALF OFF TANKS/JEANS/SWIMWEAR. After the installation is complete, anyone in the area wielding a mobile device now has the capability to receive the communicated message directly onto their smartphone/tablet via bluetooth or WIFI.
Restaurants and bars can employ this strategy as well. For example, one can imagine a group of tired and hungry college students trudging back to their dorms and apartments on game day after a long day of tailgating and cheering in the stands. They’re tired, they’re thirsty, but they don’t know where they should go to eat. If there was one restaurant among the many close to campus that used PM and broadcasted a message about $1 margaritas or a 2-for-1 taco deal, there’s a good chance that the group would be swayed by the deal and choose this restaurant over its neighboring competitors. It had nothing to do with broadcasting a deal over social media or placing an ad in the school paper; it was all about giving the students the deal when they were in near proximity to the restaurant and ready to utilize it.
So do these PM strategies guarantee the marketing team a successful campaign? Initial data claims it’s probable, and either way, it’s safe to say that in today’s market of niches and fragmentation, the ability to stand out among competitors within a close proximity is valuable to have in one’s arsenal.