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For mobile marketing, think local

For mobile marketing, think local

The recent frenzy over Pokemon Go is another reminder that we live in a mobile world: Mobile already accounts for the majority of traffic for many brands, and it’s still growing. Yet while these devices may connect us far and wide, Pokemon Go also demonstrates that mobile is inherently local.

For retailers, this holds out the alluring prospect of identifying customers based on their specific location, enticing them into the store, and interacting with them while they shop.

But for customers, mobile enables actions to be taken in the moment, which can create a much more local focus. For example:
• Finding out what stores are nearby, and what people think of them, rather than what the brands are generally like.
• Sharing their experience of shopping the local store, rather than of the overall brand.
• Wanting to know when the pothole in the parking lot will be fixed, rather than seeking assurance that the brand takes the condition of parking lots seriously.

This is difficult to manage if your marketers are remote from the locality. One approach is to try to automate the response, using the power of big data to work out what the customer is really after in the moment, and then serving up the right information. In effect, to take the marketing mobile. This is probably essential in the longer term, but currently presents a major technology challenge.

Perhaps a more immediate alternative is to make your marketers mobile:
• Give each store the responsibility to answer any questions about their store on social media.
• Give each store the responsibility to manage their reputation in the locality. For example, making sure the social profiles of the store are accurate, and responding to customer reviews.
• Give each store a budget to address customer concerns, outside of the normal refit cycle.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s just a 21st-century version of the perennial national vs. local marketing debate, with all the issues of budgets, training, managing the local/national balance, and providing the necessary tools. But in an increasingly mobile world, can your marketers really be in one place?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at

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