The Game Has Changed for Winning at Shelf

Reaching consumers in a relevant way is often profoundly tied to place. Historically retailers & suppliers have focused on contextual, physical mediums for tapping the power of place inside the store – signage, displays, shelf talkers and so on. Beacons haven’t really worked. Promotional touch screens don’t get used that much. By and large, efforts to innovate and change the game have failed.

But the game is finally changing with geofencing. Ironically the new way to leverage place to engage retail shoppers doesn’t involve anything marketers put inside the store at all. Customers are actually bringing your most powerful marketing asset with them to the store. The smartphone is the new gateway to reaching shoppers – and we’re on the forefront of understanding how to do that.

Why geofencing struggled at first

Geofencing means showing banner ads to customers on mobile browsers and apps whenever they’re inside a virtual “fence” that you have defined with latitude & longitude coordinates on a map.

Sounds pretty powerful, right? It is, but unfortunately at first many marketers were beholden to media companies selling them geofencing in a way that won them larger budgets, without really tapping the precision and consequently driving the results that were promised. How, exactly? Imagine if someone told you to put your shelf-talkers on every shelf of the store or to send email promotions to everyone who visited a major retail within a given timeframe. That’s essentially what some geofencing companies were (and some still are) doing when suggesting brands geofence an entire retailer’s store.

Geofencing reborn

With the maturity of media analytics disciplines and the emergence of new geofencing platforms that aim to deliver the true untapped potential of the medium, the game is finally changing. New players are figuring out how to better integrate geofencing tech with other data sources, and they’re figuring out how to measure outcomes.

But you don’t want to rush in, you’re going to want want a few guiding principles to help you get the most out of geofencing and transform your shopper marketing strategy. Here are a few to keep you on the straight and narrow:

1. Find someone doing it differently
Go with a partner who has something unique to offer – something that gets you closer to your audience in a way you haven’t been able to through other tactics. You know to be suspicious when:

  • They assume they’re the answer before understanding your needs. For example, they don’t ask you questions about your current challenges in reaching your audience and specifically help you problem-solve how they could help.
  • They do it all, but can’t honestly tell you where they aren’t specialized and don’t plug in as well
  • They can’t really tell you how they measure results
  • They just seem to be doing vanilla geofencing as you’ve always known it – a 1-2 mile radius around a store or other location

2. Vet the techno-babble
If the company pitching you can’t explain it to you like you’re five or if the company won’t go deep on how the technology actually works, it’s not worth your time.

3. Stick to your guns
Rigidly insist on targeting your specific audience and filter out the noise. 
Instead of signing up for a massive geofencing campaign that blasts the entire retail store and several miles surrounding it, stop and consider who it is you’re trying to reach. 

If your core audience is someone who over-indexes on fresh and visits several times a week, you need a sacred budget set aside to help you reach that audience. Cut your top of funnel, broad tactics if you must. But never let go of your budget set aside for reaching that bullseye of your target audience.

If you want to leverage the power of place in your advertising, you need to incorporate geofencing in your media mix. There’s true power in reaching your customers based on where they are (or were) in certain sections of retail stores. But you need a strategy and a partner who can deliver you results.

We’re here to help you take the next step and launch a winning hyper-targeted geofencing strategy. Give us a call or drop us a note, we’d love to walk you through it.

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