The Art Institute of Chicago wanted to add a splash of color by injecting youthful new blood into its membership. What it got by advertising through a Web site that geo-targeted consumers was 5,000 new members in the demographic it was trying to reach—18- to 35-year-olds—upping its rolls by 5 percent or 6 percent in one day, says Andrew Mason, founder of Chicago-based publisher Groupon. The bonus was that 97 percent of those signing up for the 50 percent-off membership never had been institute members before.
Mason joins many who believe that direct marketers, especially brick-and-mortar businesses, can gain a lot by geo-targeting consumers through affiliates. Raychel Espiritu, traffic support representative for Encino, Calif.-based geo-targeted search engine marketing company LocalPages.com, and Mason Wiley, senior vice president of marketing for Beverly Hills, Calif.-based affiliate advertising network Hydra, also offer pointers.
1. Find local affiliates or affiliates that already geo-target their services for consumers. Mason's Groupon, for example, seeks discounts from businesses and offers them to consumers who must amass into a certain size group before the discount becomes a reality. To get the daily coupons, consumers provide their e-mail addresses and pick cities. If they want to hurry the deal along, they use tools on the site to share the offer with their friends and encourage them to buy. "We send out a daily deal on one of those businesses," he says. "So business owners sign up with us, we write a description about the business and we offer some kind of a deal, and basically drive hundreds of thousands of customers to a different business every day in cities across the country."
In addition to the institute, Mason cites a skydiving business in the Chicago suburbs that saw 1,500 conversions in one day after offering a half-off coupon. That one placement increased the company's annual business by 25 percent, he says.