When It Comes To Buying, It’s All Local–Even Online

By Jane M. Von Bergen
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While the internet allows us to order just about anything from anywhere on earth, it turns out most people actually spend within a very small geographic area….right in their own backyard. It’s something you may want to take into account when developing your marketing plan.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The digital world is global, but when it comes to buying, it’s all local — even online.

And that’s lesson one for small businesses to understand about marketing online, said David Bell, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most people spend most of their money within a very small geographic area, he said.

So, while business publications are full of articles about entrepreneurs finding global customers via the internet, most of the money that the owner of a small coffeehouse or small service business will make will come from someone right outside his door.

“So that’s the place to start,” he said, “with local, mobile-based marketing.”

Bell teaches an online course, “Digital Marketing, Social Media and E-Commerce for Your Business” at Wharton. Billions of people “are walking around with a personal computer in their pocket,” said Bell.

When they want to buy something, they pull out that personal computer, aka, their mobile phones, and research their purchase on the spot. “Every single customer is living an online life. You need to be present,” he said.

The way to be present at that moment is through “geofence” technology. Those kinds of apps can automatically send a text or message from the merchant’s mobile system alerting the potential customer, via his mobile phone, that he’s steps from away a store that sells the product he seeks.

“You show up in the moment, when those customers are close to you,” he said.

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