Why You Need To Develop a Propinquity Marketing Strategy

Propinquity-Marketing-Strategy-Agency-Converse-Digital-Tom Martin

The law of propinquity states that the greater physical (or psychological) proximity between people, the greater the chance that they will form friendships or romantic relationships. It was first theorized by psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, and Kurt Back in what came to be called the Westgate studies conducted at MIT (1950).

There are various types of propinquity including Industry/Occupational Propinquity, in which similar people working in the same field or job tend to be attracted to one another. Residential Propinquity, in which people living in the same area or within neighborhoods of each other tend to come together. And Acquaintance Propinquity, a form of proximity in existence when friends tends to have a special bond of interpersonal attraction.

To this list we’d add Marketing Propinquity.

Marketing Propinquity

With the advent of mobile smartphones, essentially little computers in our pockets, consumers have fundamentally changed the way they interact with information and as a subset, marketing.

One needs only look around at tourists to see the single most obvious change — how we navigate the unfamiliar territory of a city. No longer do we clutch maps or ask directions of locals. No, now we simply Google It and then via the magic of GPS and smartphone technology, we have a real-time map guiding us to our destination. We use the mobile phone like a fighter pilot uses their HUD.

A destination that we’ve likely found via a Google Search, investigated via Trip Advisor, Yelp, UrbanSpoon or any host of other review sites (again from the phone) and will then share our thoughts about on Facebook, Twitter or maybe some other social site via that same smartphone.

For the first time in history, marketers truly have access to technology and marketing channels that allow for a one-to-one, contextually relevant messaging program. We can follow, or more hopefully move a prospective customer (or repeat customer) through the purchase cycle from need awareness stage through option evaluation through to conversion and purchase.

All by strategically weaving contextually relevant messaging into the prospect/customer’s life via each Propinquity Point.

Propinquity Points

For many companies, Integrated Marketing, is little more than pushing the same message/campaign across a combination of channels. At each impression the consumer is presented with a unified voice, brand and message.

Today and in the future though, we believe that the a successful marketing strategy will move beyond this interruption strategy and instead rely on sophisticated data analysis to map the consumer’s need state at all or at least a manageable subset of Propinquity Points. Once mapped, the marketer can alter the messaging content based on the goal of that Propinquity Point in the overall purchase funnel.

For instance, the role of a television ad may not actually be to create a sale. Instead, it may be to create awareness of a new product or service and invite the consumer to learn more online. The role of the website may be little more than to educate and spur direct experience of the product or service. And then at the point of direct experience, the mobile phone might play the role of social proof — making it easy for the consumer to poll their friends for purchase advice or see testimonials or reviews of the same product from their friends and colleagues.

By mapping and then managing the consumer progression through the various Propinquity Points, a brand encourages a prolonged conversation between customer and brand. That prolonged conversation results in a higher brand impression frequency against each consumer, which if you believe the Propinquity Theory, should create a higher degree of likeliness that the consumer comes to like and maybe even purchase your brand.

The Power of a Propinquity Marketing Strategy

Beyond the opportunity to deliver increasingly relevant, and more likely consumed, messaging at each Propinquity Point along the purchase path, Propinquity Marketers enjoy one additional, and significant benefit.

Quite often, the last thing in a consumer’s hand before their credit card is their smartphone. Think about that.

If you could be truly the last message a consumer sees prior to purchase, would that increase the odds of the consumer purchasing your brand versus your competitors’?

photo by philcampbell

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 25+ year veteran of the sales & marketing industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and showing companies how to Sell Greatly, and turn conversations into customers. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital sales & marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.


  1. Just passing on a friendly typo correction: “we believe that the a successful marketing strategy” (Under “Propinquity Points” – 2nd paragraph)


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