Call it the Marvell-ous exercise: A group of employees brainstorm about schemes their organization could undertake, had it but world enough and time. The one rule of the discussion is that considerations of cost and manpower must be ignored.
Done according to this rule, this exercise won’t yield any usable tactics. But done well, it will likely inspire schemes achievable, even with the lamentable constraint of finite resources.
The best of these exercises start with a question such as “What impact, if any, does weather have on mobile campaigns designed to drive retail traffic?”
Theoretically, all the elements needed to answer this question exist. Mobile campaigns can be linked to specific devices, and GPS features within phones allow consumers’ movements to be captured and incorporated into mapping features. Weather data, which could similarly be imported into the mapping software, is available.
Records of retail purchases influenced by mobile efforts exist, if marketers can be persuaded to part with them (this is where the “infinite resources” condition may come into play). Personally identifiable information would be removed from these records: All this study needs is location, product category and dollar amount.
Armed with all this, a researcher could explore whether there are corollaries between weather and mobile campaigns’ ability to interrupt quotidian activities. On brilliant sunny days, is it easier or harder to lure shoppers inside retail outlets? On rainy days, should mobile campaigns (assisted by GPS readings) focus on consumers within a much smaller radius around a target store, with the expectation that it is easier to lure a shopper already out in the rain than one dry and under the afghan at home?
The benefits of determining answers to these questions are multifold. First, doing so would reduce the number of touches a marketer makes with a consumer when the propensity to purchase is low. As a result, messages that are broadcast won’t be viewed as part of a series of increasingly ignorable communications from a single source.
Second, it adds another dimension to the “right time” element of marketing. Anyone who has scheduled a media event opposite a major football game will appreciate this: It’s hard to draw a mass audience during any given playoff Sunday. Similarly, retailers who want to build foot traffic with their mobile customers would gain a handle on whether weather conditions damp turnout.
Finally, weather conditions could influence copy, if the goal is to get consumers into stores. But this is tricky: While an invitation for a hot chai, or at least a chance to get out of the rain and try on sweaters, might be inviting, being too familiar with weather conditions has Big Brotherish overtones.
A light touch might work to avoid a disturbing level of familiarity. Rather than present messages that make it clear a marketer knows what weather a consumer is experiencing, a seemingly rhetorical question might soften the pitch: “Using your mobile device outdoors today? Drop in for a cup of coffee