Become Your Own Mobile Marketing Agency, Part Two

In part one, we discussed how beneficial bluetooth proximity marketing can be, especially for small local businesses. The fact that one can incorporate a simple system into their storefront that can consistently broadcast a marketing message, or branded content for a small, one-time fee can prove to be very efficient to a small marketing budget.

We also discussed the fact that once a bluetooth hotspot is installed and active, it’s simple to offer use of your hotspot to other nearby businesses and organizations so long as it doesn’t interfere with the message you’re trying to get out. For offering use of your network, you can charge a small monthly access fee, and actually turn a profit after recovering your initial costs for installing the system.

So where do you start? A bluetooth proximity marketing system consists of a central bluetooth server that holds some special software that allows it to constantly search for bluetooth enabled devices in it’s range, as well as a bluetooth “dongle” or some sort of bluetooth transmitter. The server holds the information you wish to transmit to your patrons, or the advertising message you wish to broadcast to the masses. The bluetooth transmitter is constantly seeking out available devices to connect to. When the transmitter recognizes a device, the server automatically sends a “connection request” to the mobile user asking if they’d like to connect with the server to download or access your content. If the user accepts, the server makes it’s connection with the device, and the content is transfered to the user.

There’s a slew of companies, mostly overseas, that offer one or more parts of a proximity marketing system. To purchase a complete system from most companies could cost several hundred dollars, and even more depending on the range and the amount of features. Some companies offer small servers that can be placed at kiosks and posters, and some offer elaborate wifi-based systems for easy content addition. But, what if you’re not looking for advanced features, and extended connection capabilities. What if you just want a simple solution for your small business or personal marketing efforts? What if you don’t have the time, money, and know-how to purchase the different parts of a system and put it together yourself?

The key component of the system itself is the software that power’s it’s operation. It tells the bluetooth transmitter to constantly seek connections, and when it finds an opt-in connection request, it tells the server what type of content to transmit, and whether that particular user has already received that content or not. Without this software, your solution is useless. Sure, you can purchase and download some bluetooth software to run on any computer with a USB bluetooth adapter connected to it, but it limits your broadcast area, and limits the server location to where ever your computer is located.

There’s a 100% open source (and 100% free) version of the bluetooth server software available called BlueZ. BlueZ is a linux-based bluetooth protocol stack, specifically made for use in proximity marketing systems. As with most open source software, it’s in it’s simplest form, and requires the configuration on a linux server to operate. So how in the world do you configure this?

There’s a relatively new company in California called AirCable. They produce a variety of linux-based server hardware, and bluetooth connection solutions, at very reasonable prices. They offer a product called AIRcable Server XR™, which is perfect for proximity marketing, because it comes pre-installed with the BlueZ software. The server itself comprises all the aspects and necessary components for a wide-range bluetooth proximity marketing system. Another valued feature is the fact that the server can broadcast your signal up to 30km. This is unmatched by any other solution I’ve come across.

Upon purchasing the server, all that needs to be done is the loading of the content you wish to transmit via bluetooth. Once setup, just place the server anywhere there’s a power outlet, and leave it alone. You now have a marketing tool that never needs updating, and more importantly, never needs another dime from you.

In part three, I’ll discuss opening up your bluetooth server to other businesses to allow you to recover your initial investment, and to even turn a profit, as well as incorporating affiliate offers to monetize your hotspot further.