I introduced the term Pinpoint Marketing in 2013, and greatly expanded on it in Lethal Generosity. It is the concept that the contextual technologies of mobile, social, data, location technologies and the Internet of Things can be used by global brands to give every customer highly-personalised experiences based on such factors as customer history, location and time of day.
What is vital is that the enterprise taps into resources where users generate the data on their own, particularly social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the rest.
More than a few marketing people have balked at this suggestion. They prefer to use only the data they gather on their own, under their own controls, asking questions whose answers may help justify existing programs. I think such programmes have some value, but that value deteriorates if your next customer does not think and act just like your last customer.
Besides that, if you stack up all the available, accessible and affordable data being ignored, it would dwarf Mount Everest. In 2012, the last year that Facebook released such information, the social networkcollected 2.7 billion posts daily, ingesting 500 terabytes of data in every 24-hour period. The chances are extremely likely that in those terabytes there is more than a little data relative to your company and why people choose to engage with your brand. It is updated in real time, making the data more current than what most companies can possibly collect.
Let’s look at just one case.
VinTank, a social CRM startup, which started in California wine country, collects what consumers say online about their personal wine preferences. By 2015, it was collecting 2.5 million comments daily and collating relevant comments by product and location for many of the world’s elite wineries, restaurants and hotels located in destination wine regions. They also build geofences around their clients—virtual boundaries that trigger text messages when someone crosses an imaginary line.
Here’s how the dots connect: someone has stated they enjoy premium Cabernets at some point in the recent past. Then they announce they are spending the week end at a high end hotel, perhaps celebrating a milestone such as an anniversary. The next day, this person’s party drives past a winery triggering a message that a potential customer is nearby. The winery can then send a message to that party, inviting them in for a special tasting of the winery’s best vintage. The winery knows this party invests in such expensive product and the wine lover is pleased to be recognised.
This is Pinpoint Marketing at its very best. The marketer is saying, “I know who you are, I know what you want and I can supply it to you.” People who drive by at the same time and do not fit the demographic profile do not get interrupted with messages that do not apply to them. People who do receive them are far more likely to respond than if the messages were randomly pushed to anyone inside the geofence perimeter.
What does that have to do with corporate communications? A good deal, in my view.
In September, VinTank was acquired by W2O Group, a San Francisco-headquartered public relations firm that has been evolving in recent years into an integrated marketing and communications agency. Integrated marketing is a term that evolved in the 1980s referring to agencies that coordinated unified messages in multiple marketing disciplines including advertising, PR and other outbound channels.
According to Aaron Strout, WCG president, the plan is to take VinTank’s “social listening and location technologies into all sorts of large niche markets”, thus developing Pinpoint Marketing from an idea into a profit-generating, experience-enhancing reality.
To my way of thinking, these sort of dynamics have much to do with corporate communications of the near future. Interactions between enterprises and customers, partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders will be based on historic data and realtime location information. It will be far more personalised tomorrow than it is today and it will be much more interactive.
But, is VinTank, or its new parent company actually corporate communications? Or is it PR? or perhaps a form of direct marketing? It is getting more and more complicated to answer that particular question. The lines between these disciplines are rapidly blurring.
This is the issue I will discuss in my third and final article on the changing nature of corporate communications.