Hiring a Digital Agency: Market to Foot Traffic by Pushing Notifications Just Before a Class or Appointment

It’s true, necessity is the mother of invention. I walk down a major retail street to get home from the train. There are no less than three gyms and four salons on my short walk. One of these gyms lets outside trainers and yoga instructors use their space for classes. Every time I walk by the one I go to on occasion, I get a text with an offer!

I mentioned this to a friend who teaches yoga. She liked the idea of expanding her market to a new neighborhood but worried people wouldn’t be able to find her at a new gym.

The whole conversation got me thinking. I believe a lot of small business owners still think the bells-and-whistles available to big retailers are out of their reach. Maybe for one yoga teacher, yes. And even then….eh, not if her calendar is full. But for a gym, salon or restaurant with a new or second location? Absolutely not.

There are a number of cost-effective tech solutions available to local businesses that allow them to market to new and existing customers based on location and proximity.

Technology enables you to move around and be found. Or, grab people to fill in a class or appointment as they are walking by. Here are a few ways to do it:

Push Notifications. Nearly every major communications service has a means of sending these via the cloud. Different from SMS texting, this is when your phone actually sends a pop-up or ‘push’ note to the user. Like, as when your calendar reminds you about an appointment. It’s an easy and personalized way to reach customers on their mobile, but it’s basically sending out a blast note. Any targeting done has to come manually from the person managing the database. If you have a small number of contacts this could still work well.

Geo-Fencing. This is where technology starts to do the heavy lifting for you. When people walk into the “fence” a push notification is automatically sent to them. You can also set this to act within a certain time frame–or even include a map, links to reviews or a video. So, let’s revisit my friend’s example above. If I go to her classes in Logan Square and she starts teaching in Lakeview, when I walk by the Lakeview gym I’ll get a notification on my phone that says, “Hey, did you know you can now do yoga here?” Let other possibilities sink in. That’s pretty cool.

You could switch-up the notes based on anything. A new promotion or discount. A new store opening. Adding new classes to the schedule. Happy Hour just started.

iBeacons. Similar to a geo-fence, an iBeacon allows you to target customers within a 75 foot radius. Also, it’s portable. So, again, if you’re on the move or have multiple locations you can take advantage of this opportunity.

There’s only one real caveat: to do this the most cost effectively you need to be a master marketer. App-based plans work best when you have a lot of subscribers. So, these are not set-it-and-forget-it solutions. This is what, I believe, used to keep small businesses from using this technology.

Now, however, it is so easy to build, use and market an app that this really shouldn’t be scary anymore. Buying this technology is just like buying anything else. Kick the tires first and start with an action plan that focuses on a desired outcome.

If you walk away with anything let it be this: don’t be afraid of technology. You’re not too small to take advantage of it and it does not have to be expensive. The whole endeavor really comes down to having a good plan backed by the right technology to target customers.