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  • 33 Central Street
  • Randolph, Vermont 05060
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Connecting with Your Local Audience - Location Marketing and Discovery

Location Marketing and Discovery

location-marketingYou have a little shop tucked away on the cutest street in town, but the patrons aren't coming through the door. How can you let people know where your business is located and help them discover you? I'm glad you asked.

In this - Part Two of the series on Connecting with Your Local Audience- I'm going to walk you through two aspects of Location Marketing and Discovery - and discuss two platforms that can help your business gain traction with mobile discovery.

The first thing to understand about Location Marketing is that it goes by a number of different names and acronyms, but for our purposes we will consider it to be advertising or engagement with people using mobile devices in an effort to make them aware of or lure them into your place of business. It has everything to do with location, location, location and often ties in very closely with social media. When we talk about Discovery, we are talking about making sure that a person nearby can discover your business using location-aware apps.

Learning the Platforms

The first step in gaining traction with Location Marketing is understanding how the platforms that provide the tools actually work. Generally, people use apps on their phone to "check in" when they arrive at places. GPS locates the users and ties to potential "venues" they may be visiting when they check in. When a user selects (or creates) the venue they are at, it is often broadcasted to social network platforms like Facebook and Twitter so their family, friends, fans and associates can know where they are.

Many of the platforms allow users of the apps to add comments, hints, tips, ratings or photos to their check-in. Often there is a game layer added to the mix in order encourage users to use the application to unlock badges, stickers or other prizes.

The crux of making use of these applications as a business is identifying the platforms you want to target and taking advantage of whatever outreach opportunities they provide. For our example we are going to choose Foursquare. Foursquare is among the simplest to implement and the community of users on Foursquare tend to be quite dedicated to using the app when they are out and about. Additionally, Foursquare is one of the apps which provides opportunities for rich engagement. I won't re-write the directions on how to actually use the application, but check out the directions for business owners on Fourquare for a walk-through. 

Determine Your Goals

Optimizing your online presence for Location Marketing involves deciding on some goals for the outcomes you are after by using the technique. Among the likely goals are:

  1. Increase traffic to your store - bring more boots through the door
  2. Sell more of a specific item - focus on a product offering
  3. Improve patronage during specifc times of day - early bird specials, etc.
  4. Develop new customer relationships - attract Discovery
  5. Focus on rewarding current customers

Although each of these pursuits are worthy of your attention, having a singular focus to start with will greatly enhance your chances of success. Whichever goals you set for yourself at the outset, they all have one critical component in common - the need to have a well-established online presence.

Understanding Different Types of Location Engagement

Diffrent platforms and apps have different types of engagement. The two most prevelent location-based engagement types are the Social Check-in and the Deep Check-in. 

The Social Check-in

The Social Check-in is the most obvious and widely used form of location-based social networking. Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and all the major players in the category provide social check-in capability whereby a person's checkin at a location can be broadcast to their social graph or beyond. Twitter offer the ability to tie a tweet to a place, making it a de facto social check-in as well. The Social Check-in is a simple acknowledgement of the physical location of a person.

The Deep Check-in

The Deep Check-in is a much heavier hitter and worthy of encouragment with users. With Foursquare a person can leave a tip ("try the duck fat fries - they are to die for!) about the food, service or products of a business. Photos are also able to be associated with a checkin. With Facebook people can check themselves and others into a place, add comments and photos as well as "like" a location. All these opportunities for deeper engaement have the added benefit of wider exposure to social circles. 

Other forms of check-in include Game, Product, Commerce, Moment and Solo Check-ins. Let me know if you want more on these and I'll be happy to blog about them.

Establish Your Online Presence

We're working under the assumption you already have a blog or website dedicated to your business. In our last post we talked about the importance of making sure your website had up to date information. Likewise you want to make sure that your business data is correct on Foursquare (and any other network you intend to target). If you aren't sure what platforms and websites even exist or which might be most important to your own particular business get in touch and we will be happy to give you personalized advice. 

When you have claimed your online turf for business listings check to see whether or not the platforms you've chosen to work with provide window clings, table tents, cards or other items to remind patrons to check in at your establishment when they visit. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all people need in order whip out their smartphone and inform their social circles about your business.

Promote Your Business

Having your business listed on Foursquare or other location-social networks is a great step forward in being able to expand your visibility, but to really pack a punch you'll want to consider promotions and rewards for existing and new customers. Promotions increase engagement and get people in the doors. Foursquare's Tristan Walker says  "Any type of in-store promotion you can conceive we want to make it so Foursquare can run it." A good local offer that provides value to the customer so it doesn't feel or read like an ad is the best bet for improving performance.

Foursquare offers check-in deals and deals for the Mayor of a location. The mayoralship is a coveted spot for players of Foursquare and is earned by multiple check-ins at a location over a rolling 30-day window. She who checks in most is the Mayor. It behooves savvy business owners to reward that behavior and Foursquare makes it simple.

Some common promotions include:

  1. First time check-in specials (20% your order)
  2. Digital punch cards (Free appetizer with your 5th check-in)
  3. Mayor receives free [fill in the blank] with every visit
  4. Raffle promotions (every check-in gets a chance to win [fill in the blank])

Promotions are often the deciding factor for the smartphone crowd using apps like Foursquare. Given two locations nearby users are more likely to go where they are rewarded for their business.

To create effective promotions there are several keys to keep in mind:

  1. Focus on specifc incentives. It's much better to advertise a special price or discount offer than to focus on how your business is better than others.
  2. If a platform allows a large enough space for advertising consider including your hours of opertaion in the creative whenever possible
  3. Think creatively. We focus on this apsect with our own advertising. Everyone is advertised to - try to stand out from the crowd with creative, catchy promotions
  4. Be great. Being great means doing what you do as best you can and engaging, listening to and responding to your customers needs. Consider what your customers think is great about you and highlight this in your promotions.

Beware the Pitfalls of Location Marketing

If you want to succeed in location marketing, help your business gather new customers and improve the image of your brand it is imperative that you understand the common pitfalls you may face.

  1. Never ever ever ever EVER pay for fake reviews or tips. People WILL notice and you will lose credibility. If your business is unable to attract positive reviews then you owe it to yourself and your customers to think long and hard about how you might correct things.
  2. Spend time cultivating your marketing. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish with fifteen minutes a day. Give yourself the time to really think through the message you want to broadcast and the specials you want to promote.
  3. Monitor things. When somebody checks in at your establishment and complains about or raves about your business it is best to be able to respond as rapidly as possible. 

In our next post in this series we're going to take a look at local listing opportunities. We've discussed this in the past and will keep on keeping on with it because it is fundamental to a positive experience with location mareting.