I've written and thought a fair bit over the past year about the impact of social local mobile (SoLoMo) on consumer behavior and business marketing. Only after employing SoLoMo best practices to narrowly avert a plumbing crisis in my home did I fully realize its value. For those of you looking for a real world example of SoLoMo in action, I submit my own personal case study.
I live in Minnesota, where we are just now coming through a prolonged season of wintery weather that has dumped an unprecedented amount of April snow onto our yards. The temperature finally climbed above freezing just this week, rapidly turning my snowy yard into a muddy swamp.
Some quick background: most houses in Minnesota have below-ground basements. To avoid groundwater flooding, many houses, mine included, have built-in drain tiling that redirects groundwater to a central repository where an electronic pump (sump pump) discharges it back into the yard (sounds kind of stupid, I know; but hey, it works). Here's the upshot: if your sump pump craps out as the snows are melting, it's a safe bet you'll need a canoe to navigate your basement.
That is exactly what happened to me.
HIGH WATER MARK
Like most home-upkeep SNAFUs, this one came at the worst possible time. I awoke at the crack of dawn, hoping to get to the office before everyone else to put a dent in my To Do list before our morning meeting. As I passed the basement door, I heard the telltale beeping of the sump pump's emergency battery backup, a high-pitched intermittent droning sound that, were it translatable, would be saying, "dude, you better fix this now, or your screwed." I dashed down the basement stairs and into the utility room, only to find the sump pump inert, its plastic housing a mere foot away from overflowing.
At this point I should mention that I am not the handiest of men. Ten or twenty years ago, my options would have been few: a) call a plumber, b) grab a cup of java and head to the garage to fish out that canoe I bought in college. "But the year is 2013," I reflected, "I now have the Internet, social, and mobile to see me through."
IN SEARCH OF
Emboldened, I dashed to my laptop. It was clear I needed to do two things very quickly: 1) find a nearby store that carried a decent sump pump at a good price, 2) figure out how to install said sump pump. In need of speed, I was looking for information that was clear and actionable; I needed a solution that was proximate and convenient.
Ideally, was looking for a one-stop shop.
I knew there were three big home improvement stores near me: Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards. I visited each site in turn. All three had the requisite ecommerce site must-haves: internal search engine, store locator, and information tied to each searchable product showing all purchase options (online, in-store, current inventory).
However, the Home Depot site had everything integrated nicely on each search engine results page. When I typed "sump pump" into the Home Depot search box, I was brought to a page that had all of the available products; there was a clickable "check store inventory" tab under the products that were available in my local store, updated in real time.
What one me over, though, was the "Related Resources" tab on the left-hand side the screen. This one tab had links to everything I needed: customer reviews, product Q&A, how-to buying guides and project guides. It even had a few how-to videos, but only for a specific brand of sump pump that I wasn't buying. After taking a few minutes to pouring over customer reviews, I chose a sump pump that seemed like the best bang for the buck. Happily, the in-store inventory link showed there were 22 in stock.
My lucky day.
DOWNLOADING AND DRIVING
Now that I knew which sump pump I would buy, I needed to quickly figure out how to install it. I decided to sort this out in the car on the way to the store. Before leaving my house, I took a quick pic of the current sump pump set up in case I needed to clarify anything in the store.
Here it is:
Before driving off, I pulled up my YouTube app and searched "sump pump installation." Ten minutes later I arrived at Home Depot, having already listened to two vids describing how to replace a sump pump. It seemed easy enough.
Heading to the "plumbing" section of the store, I was able to find my model within two minutes. Taking a second listen of the vids on the way back, I was home 15 minutes later, ready to install my new sump pump. Just to be safe, I pulled up one of the YouTube install videos on my tablet, setting it beside me as I got down and dirty (hey, the tablet's still under warranty). Within 15 minutes, my new sump pump was draining away. I felt like Bob Villa.
A TWO-WAY STREET
From initial discovery to install, the whole ordeal took just over an hour. No kiddin.'
The sump pump experience helped me realize that SoLoMo is a two-way street: turning to the Internet for needs discovery, I was able to leverage the consumer product reviews and real-time inventory updates found on Home Depot's interactive website to select the right product for my needs, saving me time and money; easy access to YouTube via my mobile device allowed me to leverage the knowledge of others at no cost and at my own convenience.
Prior to SoLoMo, I would've spent hours waiting to shell out hundreds of dollars on a plumber; with SoLoMo, I didn't make it to work early as initially planned, but I did make it on time.
The only negative? It would've been nice to take a few laps in that old canoe of mine...