Check it Out: Cloudy With a Chance of Coupon
Whether you think these people are nuts (I do) or not, the point is weather events drive consumers to stores.
Couple this fact with one of the hottest trends in retail marketing — mobile — and you have the basis for Aisle411's latest marketing tool. The St. Louis-based mobile marketing technology company launched Helpful Hints, a text messaging service tied to weather activity, in December 2009.
Here's how it works: Retailers sign up with Aisle411 (12 St. Louis-area Ace Hardware stores have signed on since December) to have triggered text message marketing campaigns tied to weather events sent to consumers who opt in to the service. Along with information on impending weather — good or bad — consumers are presented with coupons and special offers for weather-related items.
A snow forecast triggers an Ace text message that alerts customers to the coming weather and offers a coupon for items such as snow shovels or rock salt, for example, compelling them to come to the store.
"People are going to buy rock salt somewhere," says Nathan Pettyjohn, chairman/CEO of Aisle411. "Take advantage of that weather activity to make sure they're coming to your store and not the competition."
In the case of Ace Hardware, consumers are made aware of the Helpful Hints service via in-store signage, package inserts, direct mail and email. To date, only a small percentage of the retailer's extensive customer base has signed up for the alerts, but that doesn't worry Rick Baalmann, president of Rick's Ace Hardware, whose franchise offers the service.
"Because it's an emerging technology, I look at it as we're on the leading edge. It's going to take a while to get consumers to embrace it [mobile messages]. I always say the first 500 were the toughest 500 to get signed up. "