Is location-based marketing a 'must have'?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

Location-based marketing allows brands to target individual consumers when they're literally in the neighborhood. Our experts discuss whether it's a necessity for marketers

Matt Murphy

Founder, executive director, Fusion92
12-plus years of interactive experience

Yes. It correlates directly with the most salient trends in marketing — namely, the importance of leveraging new channels to engage directly with customers to provide them with authentic and beneficial brand experiences.

Moreover, since location-based marketing relies on the continually evolving mobile platform, marketers have a dynamic vehicle with which to reach consumers, initiate a measurable dialogue and build a lasting relationship at the point-of-purchase. Whether it's through a loyalty-based program that leverages proximity-based applications, such as Foursquare, or through applications and SMS-based advertisements that determine user location to deliver targeted offers and coupons, marketers can now influence purchasing decisions at the most critical stage of the buying cycle. Brand marketers must also keep in mind that the vibrancy of the mobile experience will continue to facilitate the next stage of its development — mobile commerce. It is only a matter of time before our ability to purchase goods through our phones matches the ubiquity of e-commerce. Proximity will play a large role in making this a reality.

Finally, it's impossible to ignore the supplemental benefits of early adoption of location-based marketing practices. With the emergence of social and digital media, as well as symbiotic practices like proximity marketing, brands of all sizes have the opportunity to shake their perception as laggards and emerge as innovators.

Bryon Morrison

President, Ipsh
Nearly two decades of marketing industry experience

No. I'd tap the brakes.

Yes, “location” is important – it's one of the four “Ps” for goodness sakes – but I'm not writing to marketers grounded enough to still remember what the four “Ps” stand for (product, promotion, price and placement).

Instead, I'm talking to the folks who view location-based marketing as a shiny new toy. Location should be priority one for some brands – and eventually it will be relevant for nearly all marketers – but at this stage, if you're not committed to using location-based marketing correctly, it can be riddled with pitfalls.

Do consumers trust your brand enough to opt-in to a two-way dialogue with you on their phone? Can you provide a value exchange that makes it worthwhile for a consumer to opt-in? Are you going to prepare for success to ensure that an interaction with your brand is valuable several months after the first interaction?

Does your company have many locations or associated connections with locations, for example sponsorships?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you've probably already met with a specialist; gathered learnings from programs executed in communities like FourSquare, Brightkite or Gowalla; and are planning to build a location-based marketing database this year.

If you answered “no” to these questions and you thought this whole article was about a guy in a gorilla suit waving traffic into a store, then relax. You've got time.


Marketers should not rush into location-based marketing just because other marketers are doing it. They should first consider whether the strategy is applicable to their brands, depending on the number of their locations and the type of relationship they have with consumers.

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