Your customers have their own antenna, complete with BS detector without needing a two-year plan for it. While it was easy to see how a bit of attention and time on your part would have given you better information about their taste, purchasing history, and where they hang out, technology can help you remember who did what better.
Add to that the layer of social, and you have a way to make marketing more relevant to your customers, and get better results. Gianluca Diegoli shares with us five ways to make that happen. To me there are six areas of opportunity.
Here's where ideas have signal:
(1.) Geolocation services
In a conversation about Foursquare and Gowalla at Citizen Marketer 2.1, a few in the comments pointed out that these are tools used by technology early adopters. Gianluca is right, being in a place is good information for a merchant to target, yet you could be there without any intention to buy.
We did say that checking in as status symbol is not enough, there needs to be more. Darin Kirschner takes the prize for imagining an application of these services that embeds them in lifestyle. He writes:
[...] what if a college student could earn a coupon for discounts on big brand beer for their weekender by attending classes? The kid autochecks in at their class, doesn't leave the location for 40 minutes, and for every 10 or 20 cycles, they earn an electronic discount on their favorited brand of beer, which becomes redeemable on Friday afternoon.
The school keeps the kid in class, the beer company makes a sale, and the parent's groups feel fuzzy that the breweries are being responsible. Those kinds of direct, interactive rewards are the types of engagements that I feel are going to drive LBS as time goes on, from a consumer/brand relationship side.
Becoming the "mayor" of a coffee shop and getting $1 off of what THEY want you to buy won't amount to much, but earning cheap libations for attending your classes, or buying your kid's emergency diapers in a strange city with a minimum of hassle and at the lowest available local price? That's worth something and only LBS tech will fit that kind of niche.
Utility within lifestyle is what's next here.(2.) Past history
Indeed we may step out of character, or change taste. Past is not a predictor of future.
However, I have been quite unimpressed when dropping serious money at a store over time that they wouldn't be the wiser. If technology has democratized the ability to publish, it should also allow merchants to treat their customers as luxury good companies always have.
Why do good bar tenders get nice tips? Because they know your drink.(3.) Contextual advertising
How do you separate the online behavior for business -- for example, research for a blog post or for a social media project -- from that of personal use? People may tell you, if you find an engaging (read: not interrupting them) way of asking.(4.) Social filtering
Pick your "friends" wisely and you will benefit from what they tag and recommend. Do we really buy things based upon the recommendations of friends, or do we prefer the opinion of a perfect stranger? Charlene Li discussed how search and social network converse more than a year ago.
Search facilitates the process of discovery. What are customers going to find when they get to your site, company graph and social activities? How about using social content?(5.) Following
When customers follow your profiles, they show an interest in what you have to say. However, that interest needs validation with participation, interaction, and valuable content -- all activities that take time and resources for companies.
As Gianluca reminds us, email marketing could fall into this category, too, when executed with permission.(6.) Kick ass product or service
It's probably what costs the most in execution, time, and resources for a business. Especially one that has gotten big over time, experienced many years of little or no competition, and found nice profits in mass production. You should start there, and the rest would follow.
It will be interesting to see how Apple scales in quality and service now that the company is enjoying more mainstream appeal and volumes.
Why are we still grappling with this information and saying it's the early days? These technologies are extending and augmenting, not inventing new ways to connect with customers. What do you think is holding companies back?