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As we sit down to write this morning, we cannot but shake our heads in awe at how rapidly and dynamically our field is changing. Since we first published Marketing Management in 2011, we have seen not just new, exciting developments arise, but core fundamentals of how we connect to consumers evolve faster than most companies can rethink their marketing plans. At the same time, the tools we have at our disposal to analyze all this data are growing more powerful all the while! Yet, despite the new opportunities, despite the number crunching and data gathering, more questions are being raised than answered. We need only look at the recent (and approaching!) IPOs of some of our favorite social media platforms to see how much we don’t know. For all of the buzz, the question remains – is there even money to be made from social media advertising? We’ll be blogging more here in the coming weeks about the increased use of marketing metrics in strategic planning as well as the concept of “real-time” marketing through Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But today, we wanted to kick off this blog by focusing on one key change driver that many companies are trying to take advantage of and one we spend a considerable amount of time on in the new edition of Marketing Management – Geo-location and Precision Marketing.

Let’s take a basic example. Picture the scene – a young man, headphones on, comes above ground from the subway and begins his short trek home. It’s been a long day and he is looking forward to a bite to eat and a little R & R. Suddenly, his phone politely beeps, interrupting, if only for a second, the song he was listening to to share with him a coupon for a great deal at his neighborhood pizza spot. The rest of the story could go multiple ways but what is important and relevant for us marketing managers is the ending in which the young man’s hunger, the coupon, and the proximity of the pizza restaurant perfectly align and satisfy both consumer and business.

This is very crude and rough sketch of what has become a powerful tool in a marketing manager’s arsenal – precisely targeting potential consumers by using geo-mapping software and often, our own willingness to share personal data through our smart devices.

Remember when you downloaded the Vine app for your smartphone? Remember when it asked to use your location during setup and you clicked “Allow?” Maybe you weren’t even thinking about it. But even this type of passive engagement is rich with possibility for companies.

We recognize that sounds a little invasive or even, one might say, sneaky. So let’s turn to another example, one that is actually happening right now.

SAP’s Geo-location Marketing Brings Value to Mobile Users

Many of us have heard of SAP – even if you haven’t, it is likely that at some point in your day, you have conducted business using SAP’s systems. This terrific article from GottaBeMobile provides some excellent insight into how SAP is partnering with Montreal’s public transit system to precision market to its riders. In this instance, riders are actually able to create profiles for themselves through the transit authority’s app, which in turn, can be used to generate target marketing based on rider preferences and combine those preferences with rider location. Talk about listening to your consumer – and without even having to interfere with his or her daily routine!

Similarly, an article from a recent “Marketing” issue raises the concern that many UK companies are missing out on the great potential of mobile, geo-location driven marketing.

Are UK Brands Losing Out on Geo-location-driven Revenues?

It becomes a powerful argument – if the goal is to engage consumers on their terms, we must look at how they want to connect.

Of course, we cannot ignore the concerns of consumers regarding privacy and data collection. Remember our first example? Suppose that wasn’t such a happy ending? What if our potential customer was so offended by the pizza ad that he refused from that point on to dine at our company’s restaurant?

Which takes us back to our opening – for all of the rapid change in today’s marketing milieu, more questions are being raised than answered. We are excited to be working in the field at this moment in our history. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences through this page and we want to hear from you too! This is just the beginning of our conversation and we are looking forward to seeing where it goes.