So, you’re walking along your favorite city street today when your cell phone beeps a text notification, so you look at the screen and Wow! there’s a coupon offer for 15% off any purchase in the next hour at North Face and Wow! you realize that North Face has a shop just a block up and a block over from you and Wow! you’ve been thinking about that new sweater and Wow! before you know it you’re already walking that block up and over and Wow! there you are at the checkout with that sweater and Wow! that 15% discount. Is North Face cool or what?
Maybe. Just maybe. Or maybe not. It’s complicated. And it starts with location.
See, marketers are creating what they call geo-fences, electronic rings around businesses that sense GPS signals from opt-in cell phones. When you cross the fence with your opt-in cell phone, the marketers pick up your signal, then match it to opt-in businesses within the fence that have offers. The marketers then match your cell phone with your businesses and their offers, then shoot you opt-in text messages. Think of it as a marketing dog collar and shock fence, but not for dogs; it’s for you. And, at present there are no shocks.
From the Cascade perspective this is a rapid communication play wherein the fence triggers immediate Reception which torrents through prior Processing and Response to elicit almost instant behavior – Go or Not – as you amble along the road. It’s a whistle and a shout, “Here, boy! Come ‘ere, girl!” to a happy dog on a summer day lolling on the lawn now joyously interrupted with an exciting offer of a new play.
You’ll experience precious little High WATT Central Route processing of strong Arguments with this persuasion play. This will be the hot Low WATT Cue on that text message:
Hey, look at all the North Face logos walking around me, everybody’s doing it, let’s join in!
Hey, North Face is the face of cool, what’s not to like with North Face?
Hey, North Face would protect me from the elements on Mount Everest, so they’ll keep me warm on this cold city day!
Hey, North Face is giving me this 15% discount, I need to give them something in return!
Hey, North Face is my brand and here’s my chance to prove my loyalty; onward a block up and over!
Hey, I’m the only guy on this busy street getting this rare offer of a discount from North Face that is only good for the next hour!
At least this is the theory and the dream behind the persuasion play. Man, to quote the immortal Young Frankenstein, “It . . . Could . . . Work!”
But there are problems, problems, problems.
Initially, realize: It is a dog collar for people. You don’t see it right now, but you will. One day you’ll be waiting for an important message through your cell phone and your heart will jump when it buzzes with word of life, death, love, loss, victory, or defeat, except, it’s that damn North Face with a damn coupon dammit, leave me alone. Then you’ll see the invisible dog fence you just crossed and you’ll realize every time you hit North Michigan and Ontario, your cell phone starts chirping. And, you’ll go Commando, circling your favorite business areas trying to find the perimeter.
Now, consider: How will marketers restrain themselves? Sure, this whole play can be just fun like a dog playing fetch with the kids and sometimes we won’t mind being the dog as long as we’re having fun on a spring day with that blue sky and those puffy Simpson clouds. But, what happens when greed and competition break all the shackles on business prudence and your cell phone is a constant shock box of offers, discounts, Get It Now! text messages?
Finally, ask: How you gonna like it when the Queen of Tomorrow finally invents that iEye visor and you get subliminal messages when you cross her lines? There’s an interesting future ahead of us, ladies and gents. 1984 and Brave New World are so quaint aren’t they? Those high school chestnuts, remnants of the old modern neuroses clinging like cobwebs to our PostModern snark. Except maybe Orwell and Huxley weren’t Moderns, but Prophets for All the Ages.
Consider, Mr. Orwell . . .
“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself –anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face . . . was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime…”
Now, Brave New World . . .
“I only said it was lovely here because . . . well, because progress is lovely, isn’t it?”
Persuasion, persuasion, persuasion.