1. Thinking like a consumer

It’s really easy to just think that your business is at the centre pulling people in. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Every consumer has their own world. Your job is to make your product fit seamlessly in it. Local commuting papers are a great example of this. Someone sitting at home may not think about reading the free commuter paper, but they will always pick up a copy before hopping on a train because they’re in need of a way to pass the time. Handing out papers right before their journey gives the customer exactly what they want.

2. Understand location is fluid, not static

When people think of location, they tend to think of maps. When they think of maps they think about a drawing that represents the world. This map is static and doesn’t change. However, in the real world location is changing every second and it’s far from static. Make your geo-marketing solution responsive to changes to the environment. Instead of assuming that every person within a 10 miles radius is a potential customer, think about your customer base as a fluid thing. What happens to the base at different times of the day? What happens if the weather changes, or at congested times? There are many factors that will increase and decrease the chance of becoming a customer.

3. Understand your market and sample intelligently

Just as the world is not static, neither is your market. You should be constantly trying to understand how their locations are changing and what that means to your business. To get this information you need market research rather than assuming you know the customer. Find out which decisions affect the buying decision making process for those in store and most importantly not coming in store.

When understanding your market don’t fall for the miles radius trap- the biggest error we see with our clients. How many people within miles radius would find it difficult to get to a store? Try geo-fencing by time rather than miles radius using gettraveltime.com. Complacency at its worst is when organisations ignore the people further afield that can access the service. Think like an out of town retailer!

4. Think social

There is a lot of geo-targeting you can do on social media. Facebook and Twitter allow the targeting of ads and content by location. They’ve done it for a reason. Each impression, each view, each click is gold dust – why waste them on people who may never be customers? It’s also possible to create custom content for different mini-geographies. If you create a content plan like a local newspaper you’re already stepping in the right direction. Consumers will read if it’s interesting to their immediate surroundings.

5. Capitalise upon serendipity

The local that reads the commuter paper on the bus is the perfect example of serendipity of consumption. It’s also why ads on escalators have few words but adverts on the train are longer. Think about the places that you’ll have a captive audience and target it like mad. You’ll also have to remember this will change constantly. One day they could be waiting for a friend in a coffee shop with an uncharged phone, but the next day late for a meeting.

6. Get visual & use maps

Plot data on a map and see where your customers are. Google Tables is great for this. It can quickly take postcode data (in the UK) and show you where your customers are coming from. Visually you may be able to see patterns on a map you did not before. Beyond just using a map, see how other people use it. If you find that putting a map on a site is not enough, try using maptiks.com to see how people use location and maps on their sites. Location does not stop, so your geo-marketing should always be changing too.

7. Use data, but not big data

I’m always rolling my eyes when someone inevitably mentions big data. In my opinion it’s one of the worst buzzwords out there. I was recently at a travel technology discussion panel with Charlie Osmond, CEO of TripTease. He made an excellent point saying that when people discussed (perhaps a little cluelessly) the internet in the 90s is what many do about big data nowadays. We know of it, but it’s not understood to its full potential and you’ve got to walk before you can run. When people get ahead of themselves the result is rarely positive. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Instead collect your own smaller, easier to understand samples and test. Work small and iterate. Is there one almighty answer to be gleaned from big data? I wouldn’t bet on it. You need to address what’s important here and now. For all its merits no one has said that big data is a fortune teller. Don’t forget to ask people!

8. When the market shifts, make your traction react positively

Retail businesses: if you want to expand geographically, use your immediate location but don’t become dependent on it. Time and time again I’ve seen local businesses becoming too attached to their surroundings. This means when they try and move or expand their whole presence will be lost. They end up being lost in translation. I’m sure you know of a great local business because of its location, but these businesses rarely think big. A company that I think has done this really well is The Gym Group. They’ve a solid understanding that different physical locations have a huge impact on their consumer’s behaviour.

9. Utilise interactive outdoor advertising

I’ve yet to see a perfect idea around interactive outdoor advertising. The closest was probably British Airways Magic Billboards. Each time a BA plane flew over the billboard, the flight number was given interactively. It was technically brilliant and so simply executed. It not only connected the plane in the sky, but made the ad connect to the person. It was beautiful because if the consumer happened to be in that location when the plane was moving at 400 mph, they were able to see content others had not, even though the billboard was static.

Think of ways of connecting your product to your users and potential customers. NFC technology was onto the right lines but failed to deliver. Could iBeacons fill this void? At the moment they’re too busy trying to solve every problem rather than focusing on providing real meaning.

10. Think mobile first

Google says that 51% of searches happen on mobile on the go or in transit. This has a huge impact on how customers are reading content. The Guardian published research explaining how the average household owns 7.4 internet devices. Smartphones are the most common, and of course they’re always changing location. As much as you do need to keep location fluid, remember that many people will have a similar routine every day. If you can capture these people and understand their patterns you’ll be able to deliver content the right time, again and again.