SoLoMo and Your Local Mobile Marketing Plan
If you have a small business with a physical location, SoLoMo ("Social, Local, Mobile") is an important catchphrase that should be front and center in your local, mobile marketing plan for 2013 and beyond. Here's a quick look at each of its three components, and an overview of how they work together as an effective, unified system.
We'll start with the "Mo," because portable devices and their GPS capabilities are where SoLoMo originated. People carry their smartphone or tablet in their hand while they move around in the physical world, and these devices integrate geographic data into the information they provide.
Search engines return results that are mapped and location-centered, and the user immediately responds in the physical world to an online interaction. Geographic information flows in the other direction as well, so that business owners can discover who is in the neighborhood, and can send special messages targeted to people most likely to walk through their door.
Your online business presence, therefore, has to be optimized for mobile devices. Your website has to be mobile-friendly and you have to maintain an energetic locally-focused profile on social media platforms to make it easy for people to discover your business.
While you don't have the huge advertising budget of a national brand, your physical place of business gives you a natural pool of potential customers who are looking for merchants in their immediate area.
There are far more small local businesses than there are national and international corporations, and an expanding array of apps offer ways for these business to connect with their customers.
You can use such tools as "geofencing," which means creating a virtual perimeter around your place of business: if one of your Facebook fans or Twitter followers is in the neighborhood and crosses your invisible boundary, you can ping a deal offer to them. It's today's version of the old direct-mail marketing, in which you mailed special offers to everyone in your neighborhood who fit your possible customer profile.
Conversations on social media are the threads that tie the SoLoMo network together. Building a brand and developing customers' trust is no longer simply a matter of one-directional advertising. Instead, your business engages in transparent conversations with a wide network of friends and fans, giving them privileged access behind the scenes and offering useful content that they will want to share.
As a part of these networked interactions, people provide their demographic data, and you as an advertiser have access to that data. Combining this storehouse of data with real-time location information, your business has immediate conversational access to the likeliest of potential customers.
Furthermore, customers who have had a good experience with your business will let their friends know about it through quick social sharing.
SoLoMo may be a buzzword, but it's also a truly exciting concept: the opening of a doorway into a local mobile marketing web that's both connected to your specific location as well as to an ongoing everywhere-at-once conversation.