Marketing Goes Almost Painfully Local

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Technology Marketing Corporation  |  August 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

Pay attention, you might just overhear something

One of the most memorable business stories I have heard was when a consultant friend of mine flew to a large customer to quote on a substantial project. He was traveling with his business partner and happened upon a shuttle bus to the rental car company with his competitor and a partner. None of these consultants had ever met, but my friend and his partner had the luck to keep quiet as he overheard the other two people on the shuttle bus finalizing their pitch and setting the price for the project. My friend priced his proposal under the competition and got the project. Now, that’s the sort of thing you want to overhear.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this story as I saw news item after news item fall into place for this month’s column. You see, just like on the shuttle bus, if you pay attention, you can pick up valuable insight into the future of the marketing, sales, CRM and customer interactions.

The art of the deal sites

Perhaps no other recent trend has shaken up the tech markets like the rise of daily deal sites like Groupon, a company whose growth rate at 2,241 percent caused the Wall Street Journal to call it the fastest growing company in the history of humanity.

Deal sites are here to stay and everyone, and I mean everyone, is jumping on the bandwagon, from Google to Glenn Beck.

What this tells us is you have to be an absolute savant to keep track of all the marketing opportunities out there, and in order to maximize ROI you should be ahead of these trends or you may find yourself playing catch up with the competition. Ask yourself if your management is the kind to forward you an angry email from Groupon wondering why your biggest competitor used their service first. Depending on your answer, you should act accordingly.

Amazon and Google (News - Alert) weren’t local enough?

The buzz in the local space is beyond deafening. Even if you cover your ears, you feel like the news will find a way through your nostrils to directly inject itself into your grey matter. Just yesterday in fact, Amazon quietly launched its own deal site, allowing customers who are already used to getting deals from the largest e-tailer to get more local oriented deals – likely from the brick and mortar establishments once relegated to using newspapers and such for their mass marketing needs.

Let’s be honest – if you don’t have human-supercomputers working for you, how on earth will you keep track of all the social/local deal sites and opportunities out there? A logical answer is with some sort of aggregator. Well, guess what – Google just picked up Dealmap, a startup providing users with access to data from hundreds of group-buying sites. You get the feeling there is a strong trend here?

Foursquare (News - Alert) isn’t playing around

You think the new flow has stopped? Then you should know that social check-in site Foursquare, which some equate to a GPS-enabled Twitter (News - Alert), is retooling its service to give merchants access to promoting themselves to the millions of users it has. By sharing location-based information with merchants, it aims to allow them to increase engagement with customers to hopefully persuade them to frequent their stores and part with some of their hard-earned cash. As you may have guessed, they expect to monetize their service with paying merchants.

Mobility is the future and your channel marketing choices infinite

If you follow the trend lines and the investments, you’ll see the world of commerce is expanding to handle smarter and ubiquitous cell phones and brick and mortar shops once excluded from the tech revolution are now able to cash in on the latest technologies and channels to get a piece of the dotcom 2.0 dream. As always, not every player will be a winner and moreover, some deal sites will be better suited to some products and geographic areas and to specific types of customers. The challenge then becomes how to market to and engage with and manage so many new potential customers, channels and do it on a budget, which makes your CXOs happy.

I leave you with one thought and it’s that you should pay attention to your own management and the rapidly-growing space of new marketing channels. You should be experimenting, analyzing and paying attention because even if your company is comfortable doing things the old way, sooner or later your management is bound to receive a deal offer from another company in your space, causing them to second guess your marketing initiatives. And from my perspective this is not the sort of news you ever want to overhear.

Rich Tehrani is CEO of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world’s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO (News - Alert)). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi