We all know the old estate agent adage that demands we put location above all else to get best value for your bricks and mortar. That also holds true for some of the fastest growing trends in social media. 

Our location is something of great interest and value to marketers who are looking to push geo based messages and offers to potential or existing customers. There are a number of apps and mechanisms for geo marketing communications from Bluetooth proximity messaging to Facebook and now to smartphone applications.

When I first looked at Foursquare, (iPhone App) I must admit I really wasn’t sure it was for me or my business but…..as with other new media you really do need to try before you leap to promote, criticise or deride these platforms.

Whilst “feeling my way” with the location based app I can see immediate opportunities for business and consumers.  I’d be surprised if there isn’t a location based marketing project or two brewing in most of the UKs top consumer brand companies. But the U.S. has taken and run with the technology to enable mobile access to a wide array of products and offers whether the shopper is at home or at the local high street shopping centre or retail park. 

 If you haven’t done so already I’d recommend having a look at the Foursquare app, go beyond the fear of being tracked by “big brother” as you retain control of who sees where you are and you don’t always have to make check-ins public.  If you run a business reliant upon customer footfall I’d suggest looking at the possibility of offering discounts or special promotions for users of apps such as FourSquare. 

 A couple of simple suggestions – coffee shop offering free cup of java if you spend £1 or more on any other item, restaurant offering 20% discount for regular visitors. With Foursquare the most regular visitor to a specific location can earn the title of Mayor, this can result in a little competition for the awarded role but in my experience and research this is somewhat limited.  In fact I’m not entirely sure the “Mayor” tag works but that may just be me.  It limits the possibility of reward to regular visitors to just one person and I’m not sure many of your visitors would really battle to take on the Mayoral title – far more likely to want the special offer their membership could deliver.  My solution would be for the proprietor to become Mayor and through “tips” and “special offers” announce your offer.  I’m keen to hear of examples that have made the Mayor award work for them.  One example in the U.S. at the end of last year – fast food outlets “Silver Mine Subs” ran a competition on FourSquare offering the Mayor of their specific outlets a free medium sub every week for a year.  The cost of this campaign – approx $300 but the publicity generated will certainly have counted for far more than this outlay.  But I’m back to my Mayoral issue and the fact that only one person being Mayor can seriously limit the scope of an offer or campaign.

 In any event Foursquare provide their registered businesses a range of promotional options and these include: 

  •  Mayor specials can be unlocked only by the Mayor (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days).
  • Count-based specials are unlocked when a user checks in a certain number of times.
  • Frequency-based specials are unlocked every so many check-ins.
    Wildcard specials are always unlocked, but staff need to verify extra conditions before awarding the special.

Despite flaws in some of these apps they are certainly capturing the imagination of consumers and marketers alike.  This is no surprise as traditional forms of marketing are falling away with Directories, TV, Radio and Press advertising revenues all falling. The key is to connect with the consumer in way that makes them feel in control of the process, “special” and

Coffee, foursquare offer, foursquare mayor,geo marketing
Coffee offer for "Foursquare" regular

deliver experiences and offers that they want to share. 

Our physical and virtual location matters and has a value. For marketers it opens a whole new world of opportunity with a multitude of methods to interract with our target audience, get it right and rewards will be loyal and regular customers.  The key for business owners will be to understand the trends, the opportunities such technology and apps provide and adapt business strategies to communicate effectively with their target audience. 

Now, time to check in…… 

David Laud FCIM, Chartered Marketer  david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

Location, Location, Location
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