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Proximity Marketing: You've Got Coupons!

Proximity Marketing: You've Got Coupons!

Imagine you are standing in a bustling pedestrian mall with a hankering for a caffeine fix. Before you is a vast cornucopia of unfamiliar coffee shops, none of which appeal to you any more or less than the other. Suddenly, your phone vibrates. You fish it out of your pocket to see that you have a new notification: “Available now: $1 off at Joe’s Coffee Joint.” Armed with your new coupon, your decision becomes clear. You stride into the coffee shop which is just twelve paces away and Joe’s gets a brand new customer. That’s the thrust of proximity marketing and so far, it’s been billed as a win-win solution for both customers and local businesses. Ace Marketing & Promotions, Inc. has recently expanded its reach of proximity marketing locations. Their system works by interfacing with customer’s mobile devices via WiFi or Bluetooth. This is different from Foursquare and Yelp, which use a smartphone’s location-based services via the cellular data networks. And while some might conceive as such a contextually aware advertising service as eerily Orwellian, in practice, it isn’t nearly as intrusive as it may seem. Ace Marketing and Promotions Logo
Consider proximity marketing’s predecessor: the coupon book. Any parent or church organization member has likely bought one of those clunky Entertainment Books to help support a fundraiser. Entertainment Books, like phone books, are tailored specifically to a region and contain hundreds of coupons for local businesses. And like phone books, they are ungainly, not very portable and waste a lot of paper. Proximity marketing and other services which automatically beam pertinent deals to your phone are a logical evolution away from coupon books. And it seems to be reaching towards the same market. Like coupon clippers, the target market for proximity marketing gets a thrill from discovering a deal. But unlike those who spend the afternoon cutting holes in their Sunday newspaper, smartphone users simply have to let advertisers know that, “Yes, I’d be interested in getting free promotions and discounts zapped to my phone automatically.”
And that’s how privacy issues become a non-issue. It’s a strictly opt-in service wholly unlike the satirical (and fictional) Google phone ad service lampooned by The Onion which whispers sponsored messages into your ear based on the content of your telephone conversations.
The greatest challenge to digital coupons will be, of course, gaining mass acceptance and utilization of the technology. Store employees will have to learn how to recognize and process such offers—particularly ones that apply to national chains—and potential customers will have to know where to look for coupons. Furthermore, there may be concern over counterfeited coupons and other potential for abuse. But just as a grocery stores, fast food restaurants and even fine dining establishments have made coupons nearly equitable with currency in terms of promoting and honoring their use, so too can proximity marketing become a prominent element of the way today’s shoppers hunt for bargains.
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