You’ve heard of “proximity marketing”, and you’ve probably even looked at how you might implement this technology. The possibilities are strong, and the technology – in various forms and solutions – promises to put your best foot forward to every customer who enters your location.. The question is, how exactly will this relatively new and relatively unproven technology fulfill those promises?
Before we answer that, let’s make sure we agree on the definition of “proximity marketing.” According to Wikipedia, the definition is:
Proximity marketing is the localized wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular place. Transmissions can be received by individuals in that location who wish to receive them and have the necessary equipment to do so.
That’s a solid, if general, definition. Of particular importance are the words “wireless”, “content”, and “place.” To sum that up, content is delivered wirelessly when a customer or visitor enters a specific geographic location. The problem with this definition, as with many solutions, is the very last phrase: “and have the necessary equipment to do so.”
Today’s most popular proximity marketing solutions rely on the customer or visitor having a phone that provides both geolocational tracking and Bluetooth connectivity. While nearly every smartphone has those two functions, only a very small percentage of users have those two functionalities turned on at any given time, and those who don’t are highly unlikely to turn them on just for the purpose of receiving an advertisement! On the contrary, the vast majority of smartphone users keep their Wi-Fi connectivity turned on at all times, and actively seek a Wi-Fi service to use for data transmissions so they don’t overuse their cellular data limits.
Once you switch from cellular and Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, the Wikipedia definition of “proximity marketing” changes quite a bit. Now you have localized wireless distribution of advertising content associated with a particular Wi-Fi network. Transmissions can be received by individuals on that Wi-Fi network who wish to receive them. The equipment is no longer an obstacle.
Now that we’ve got that solved, why would anyone want to engage in proximity marketing? Here are a few reasons.
- 100% reach – If a visitor is on your Wi-Fi network, which you provide free of charge to customers and visitors because they are on your premises, you can now reach 100% of them.
- Hyper targeted demographics – You know the demographic makeup of your customers, because they are your customers, so you can build your on-premise marketing programs specifically to those audiences.
- Marketing only to existing customers – You know the age-old rule that it’s far less expensive to keep or sell to an existing customer than it is to generate a new customer, right? Well, everyone who is on your premises, using your Wi-Fi network is, by definition, already a customer or, at the very least, a user of your services. In other words, they are already engaged with your brand.
- Contextual marketing – If content is King, context is the Queen! So, now we need to go back and revise that Wikipedia definition again, because we’re no longer talking about “advertising”. Now we’re talking about engaging your on-premise, Wi-Fi using customers with content that is specific to (a) who they are demographically, (b) where they are on your premises, and (c) what they are doing already because of where they are on your premises.
Here’s a simple example. Mr. Jones is lounging by the pool using his iPad to check the latest college football scores via the awesome Wi-Fi connectivity that covers the pool area. Because he’s at the pool, your proximity marketing system delivers content to Mr. Jones within his browser session offering him free french fries with a burger from the Tiki Hut next to the pool.
He didn’t need to turn on any new functionalities on his device, and you already know who he is and where he is, so the “advertisement” is really more of a nice reminder that you serve hot lunch to your pool patrons. Your “free” Wi-Fi just made you some revenue. Would you like fries with that?