• Three Tech Trends to Tap in 2019

    Three Tech Trends to Tap in 2019

    In an economy that is increasingly ruled by nationwide online shopping, getting your local business discovered by shoppers is tough. If you have a brick-and-mortar (B&M) business, getting warm bodies - much less qualified customers - through your door is an even tougher proposition. At an avalanche rate, shoppers are turning to electronic media to discover B&M stores and their sales message.  Here are three tech trends, now in early adoption, that you may want to keep an eye on this year. The good news here is that you can begin to tap into these techs for very little of your precious marketing budget.


    Bluetooth Beacons
    Bluetooth Low Energy beacons (BLEs) are small devices that broadcast their information to nearby Bluetooth devices, such as cell phones and many in-car devices.  Unlike standard Bluetooth devices, such as headsets and speakers, these devices transmit over a shorter range with much less power, and so much less battery consumption.Let’s imagine that you have a BLE deployed at the front door of your business, and that it is broadcasting a message about a new product that you just put onto your shelves.  A potential customer passes (or parks) within 75 feet of your door, their smartphone delivers your message to their phone, and they realize that they just a few steps away from your doorway.Your BLE message could be info on a sale, a coupon, an upcoming event, a loyalty reward - whatever would cause that potential customer to enter your business at that moment.Bluetooth technology is the backbone for the coming Internet of Things (IoT). You can Google “BLE” to find many articles, and app developers, now shaping this coming tech.


    Alexa Skills
    Alexa, Amazon’s voice-interface, has become a virtual family member in many of our homes. Alexa not only changes the TV and music channels for us, but we use it to adjust our room temperature, lighting and window shades, monitor our security devices and open our garage doors for us when we enter our driveway. With installed free Alexa Skills, we can ask our Echo and Dot devices to tell us the news, weather, local and national sports, jokes, bedtime stories, and the latest deals at various stores.  Your business message could be one of those stories.Imagine if Alexa users in our area could, from their couch, car or phone, ask, “Alexa, tell me the current deals at ABC Boutique” or “Alexa, tell me the dinner specials at DEF restaurant”. And Alexa would answer them with your message.Alexa Skills are fairly easy to create and their message is easily updated.  With a very low barrier to entry, this marketing tool will skyrocket in popularity this year.Augmented Reality Games
    Augmented Reality (AR) games are the future of computer gaming. AR games allow users to play a game in real-time, in real-space, with just a smartphone. In an AR game,  players travel out into the real world but see, on their smartphones or smart glasses, an overlay of another reality. In the game Pokemon GO (+100 million downloads), players see animated creatures cavorting all around them, and they gain prizes and scale levels by capturing and training these creatures. In the game Ingress (+10 million downloads), players battle over sites and turf in a cross between chess and king-of-the-hill. In the soon-to-be-released Wizarding World of Harry Potter (expected +500 million downloads), players will battle as wizards and creatures from the famous books - right in our parks, on our sidewalks - even in our businesses.

    In these AR games, players must travel to real-world locations to play the game. Just in Downtown Mansfield, in the game of Ingress, there are over 100 “portals” or locations that are regularly visited by dozens of players each week. Players gather at restaurants and taprooms in Downtown to socialize while they play, because they can reach portals while seated in those establishments.  


    When Pokemon Go first rolled out, several Downtown businesses hosted Go events and drew substantial numbers of new people to their locations. For those businesses, hosting involved buying an in-game beacon for about $10 (total cost!). When it comes to bringing new people to your doorstep, it doesn’t get more affordable than this.


    The Bottom Line
    BLEs, Alexa Skills, and AR game tie-ins are not market makers or breakers, but they do present opportunities for incremental marketing reach with low barriers to entry.  Each tech can help potential customers discover your business and hopefully enter your door. After that, well, it is all about the greeting.


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