Location-Based Marketing for Newbies

I’m first and foremost a publicist, but as you know these days, we need to know a lot of stuff. I spend most of my energy focusing on trends in public relations and social media, and I understand the basic gist of mobile marketing, but it’s definitely an area I’m a bit fuzzy on.

Why do I need to know about mobile marketing? Well, when you are strategizing and creating campaigns for your clients, you need to think about the “big picture.” I’m not a developer by any means; however I do need to understand the basic concepts about what would work for my clients.

Last week I attended a fantastic panel “What’s Hot in PR: Brand in the Hand — How Location-Based Marketing is Shaping the Future,” sponsored by AWNY. The panel included the likes of Jack Bamberger (Apps Savvy), David Berkowitz (360i), John Puterbaugh (Nellymoser), Jared Hopfer (Mobext) and Barri Rafferty (Ketchum).

Brands are experimenting in the mobile marketing space more than ever before. From Foursquare to Scvngr to QR codes, it is an ever-evolving space – and an exciting one at that.

Here are a few takeaways from the panel for those of us that are not necessarily entrenched in this world:

Start with a strategy.  The concept might seem basic but a lot of brands are tempted to “jump in” without one. Technology can be tempting but strategy and purpose matter in this space. However, if you don’t have a strategy, then how will you achieve your goals? As John Puterbaugh stated during the panel, your goal can be as simple as being cool or being one of the first companies to do something, but have a strategy first so that you can get real, measurable goals.

2010 was about being there; 2011 is about ENGAGEMENT. Social can be the core of your consumer experience, but you need to start by figuring out what value are you providing the consumer. When Foursquare first started, the novelty was all about folks checking in to say “hey, I’m here.” Now one of the challenges facing brands today is: How do you keep consumers engaged with your brand via these mobile platforms? From developing incentives like coupons or freebies, companies are looking to not only drive sales but encourage retention. Companies can also use mobile marketing to do some good. For example, a store can make a donation to a charity for every check-in.

Drive awareness without owning the location. Even though location is the core of mobile marketing; it’s not everything.  There are brands that are using this space to primarily drive awareness without sending a customer into a store to purchase a specific product. For example, Bravo used the FoodSpotting app and partnered with local locations to drum up excitement for the launch of Just Desserts by getting users involved in a free cupcake day.

QR codes and the mobile marketing marriage.  While I still have mixed feelings about QR codes, there are some interesting ways they are being put into use – or could be put into use.  Whether you scan a QR code on a catalog and get a direct line to the customer service department, or use the QR code at a retailer and automatically see reviews and price comparisons, the possibilities are astounding. With the use of QR codes there can be a way direct mail and magazines can work together with location-based marketing.

Measurement. Yes, yes, it always comes down to measurement. Mobile marketing offers some great opportunities for research. From CRM data to shopping behavior, the more brands are entrenched in this space and the more people that utilize these technologies, there will become a huge opportunity to study the behaviors and lifestyles of consumers.

I want to thank the great panelists for shedding light on this area, and making me look at my new Android phone a little bit differently.

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Editor’s Note: Some of you may have seen a different headline earlier today and in our daily mailing.  We’re terribly sorry about that.  We found out that there was a book in development with the same name as our headline and didn’t want there to be any confusion so changed our headline as soon as possible.  The content of the post remains the same however. (1/26/11 10:03 am Eastern).