You’ve probably seen a sign asking you to “buy local.” Whether it’s at a chamber meeting, in a local business or on the side of a bus, we’re being asked to spend our money locally. The funny thing is, according to a Forbes article last summer, more than 80 percent of consumer spending is done within 10 miles of home.
Certainly some of that “local” business is going to that big-box store down the street. That doesn’t mean consumers aren’t actively looking for locally owned retailers and service providers, though. More than 100 million consumers are using smartphones and other devices that provide location-based search results. Foursquare and Urbanspoon are just two of the hundreds of mobile applications that give users information about goods and services in the immediate area.
I sat down with Maria and Matt Dykstra of TreDigital, a digital marketing company here in the greater Seattle area (www.tredigital.com). According to Maria: “With over 60 percent of searches conducted on GPS-enabled mobile devices and a 128 percent increase in mobile-based social networking, the new tidal wave of geo-location networking is upon us. This wave is expected to have an even greater impact on businesses than the advent of search and social media themselves.”
In other words, getting your business noticed on Google, Facebook or whatever is great. But the wave of the future is to have your business show up on Social, Local and Mobile Media marketing (SoLoMo) sites.
According to the Dykstras, “Social geo-location marketing is not a fad; it is here to stay and will continue to grow.” A quick Internet search returns a list of hundreds of articles and quotes citing the importance of capturing a piece of the SoLoMo experience. All agree that SoLoMo should be a part of any business’s marketing plan.
“You do not have to be a local retail business to embrace it. However, if you are, you cannot afford ignore it any longer,” say the Dykstras. “It may seem new, but there are increasing numbers of potential partners who can help you create a unique and compelling experience for your customers. You do not need to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch.”
Starting out with location-based marketing can be as simple as adding your business listing to services such as Yelp, Google Places or Foursquare. But true location-based marketing is so much more. According to the kissmetrics blog (blog.kissmetrics.com/solomo/) “Mobile commerce, and its SoLoMo cousin, include features that let you purchase goods by way of an app that acts as a go-between from your smartphone to the store, cutting the website completely out of the picture. And, interestingly enough, people seem to prefer it this way — with 60 percent of mobile users making a purchase through their phone from their home.”
I have personally been a fan of apps like Layar and Sherpa that let me search for businesses near me by name (Radio Shack) or type (Chinese food) no matter where I am. These apps are growing to include coupons and loyalty rewards.
While major grocery and retail chains are rolling out loyalty apps that provide subscribers with savings opportunities just for walking into (or by) their establishments, you don’t have to have deep pockets to take advantage of the emerging SoLoMo phenomenon. More and more services like Facebook and Yelp let you offer local savings to existing and potential clients. Don’t overlook resources like local newspapers and community marketing sites such as RelyLocal (relylocal.com).
Growing your business locally using local and mobile media can be simple and inexpensive. Just do some Internet searches or search the application store or marketplace for your favorite mobile device. But it’s a good idea to enlist an experienced guide. Check with your local chamber of commerce or check the Internet to find social media experts offering local and mobile media services. As with any professional service, use due diligence. Bottom line, you will likely find a healthy list of businesses to help you take advantage of this emerging and powerful marketing tool.
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