Ever since smartphone makers began incorporating GPS receivers into their handsets, marketers have dreamed about making use of the technology.
I don’t want to be critical at this time of the year, but this seems to me to be a case of the journo being given half the story, or this isn’t what you need to know about location based mobile marketing in order to be massively successful at it.
I have spent half my life waiting for businesses to catch up with the key ingredients to transition from the obvious technical elements of location based marketing to an environment that has people saying I LOVE THIS and WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?
I wrote my first business model for this with the NZ Automobile Association several years ago when we were still using Windows Phone devices like my awesome iPAQ. It was a complete model for a successful location based tourism business which I have no doubt would be extremely successful right now. It combined harvesting excess inventory with knowledge about people who were close to the locations and were open to buy the services.
None of the solutions I have seen to date have dealt with certain key fatal flaws and I’m not going to divulge them all here, because they have value to me should I ever decide to set up my own business or help another business achieve it. All I can say is that it is not about using traditional models of business.
As a past ambassador for Foursquare I quickly saw the potential and could have had a huge business going with their solutions, but they too clung to policies that slowed their growth outside of large cities where you had massive populations that provided just enough business to make it look good, but even there they failed to achieve their promise.
Don’t get me wrong, in 10 years time we will be doing location based marketing in a big way. I just have a habit of being ahead of my time. The thing is that if we don’t, then within 10-20 years, conventional retail other than C-Stores and other essential service providers like hospitality, food and health will shrink to the point that many huge names in retail will go broke. They won’t even know why. They will blame the Internet instead of realizing that the problem was that they focused purely on stock-turn, aisle ends, product positioning and even skimped on quality staff. Business as usual is a fatal flaw in today’s world.
If you are in retail and want to do well, start thinking outside of the square. Location based marketing is a great option for you, but it isn’t just about GPS or proximity based marketing. The best tools in the world don’t make you a good engineer, the best products in your shop won’t keep you in business if you rely on foot traffic and if people aren’t much into going shopping any more and can get products cheaper and easier online, then you are going to have to do something different.
I know of a lot of businesses that have gone under, or shrunk, claiming conditions outside of their control caused their ultimate demise. I know, I have worked for companies who thought they knew it better, the answers were all in the spreadsheets. Some of them no longer exist, some have shrunk by 80% or more and are hanging tenaciously to their aged stock reports. When they go under, they will be enduring a self fulfilling prophecy. Such a shame because I know many of those businesses don’t need to go under.
They need managers or consultants with imagination who understand the new technologies and how to harness them to change their business models and reinvigorate their businesses as vibrant entities. The ones that do get it, and it can work in virtually any retail environment will thrive, the others with their staid old board members will scratch their heads and say they were always going to fail because of market forces and unfortunately with that mindset, no amount of GPS Smartphone carrying, open to buy shoppers will save them.
What frustrates me so much is that it doesn’t have to be that way.