Strategy

How to Get Started with Location Based Marketing

Brad Smith
September 5, 2011

Location-based marketing is still in its infancy.

It’s finally been powered by mainstream adoption of smartphones and spread by interconnected social networks. You can connect with consumers on a more direct, intimate level.

The possibilities and opportunities for location based marketing seem virtually endless.

And there’s no easier way to start than Foursquare.


FourSquare
Image courtesy of teamstickergiant

What is it?

Foursquare is a geo-location social network that enables you to “Check-In” to locations. It notifies your friends where you are, and when sycned to your Twitter and Facebook accounts it updates nearly your entire social graph.

While other services have also jumped into the geo-location game, so far Foursquare has the best brand awareness and most convicted users – two things you need to survive.

Although Foursquare recently introduced the ability for brands (without physical locations) to participate, it’s main focus is on actual locations.

What’s Unique about Foursquare?

There are two unique characteristics that make Foursquare a winning bet.

First, Foursquare is also built specifically for your mobile device. This leverages the growing importance of a mobile distribution strategy, and perfectly positions them for the second trend – local.

The world is now small again, and with services like Groupon bringing excitement back to the local shopping game, Foursquare is primed for that wave as well.

While Groupon is really built towards impulse purchases or one-off buys, Foursquare has the goal of longer-term promotions and customer loyalty.

The real goal of of Foursquare though is to be a recommendation engine.

Just like Facebook, Foursquare wants to be the place you go for information from your friends or family. This space is currently occupied by Yelp, which has recently introduced more “gaming” aspects like badges, titles, and more social functions.

It’s another interesting trend towards the importance of a social graph in our lives… which de-emphasis the the importance of search engines.

Types of Foursquare Promotions

Initially, Foursquare was really aimed at rewarding loyal customers with their Check-In specials. However they’ve really opened up the new version to give businesses an easy, effective way to run promotions.

They’ve also introduced other elements to rewarding customer loyalty like enticing impulse buyers, brand awareness specials, and colloborative or group specials. This diversity is essential because it enables businesses to reach several different types of consumers.

Think about the implications of running Foursquare promotions in congested or competitive locations (like major cities or the Las Vegas Strip). When you go to “Check-In” to a bar, and you notice the one next door is giving away free drinks, you might just wander over and try a new spot.

Key Benefits of Foursquare

There are several benefits to participating on Facebook to reach end consumers. However like most participation on social networks, the benefits aren’t always linear.

Direct benefits still emphasis rewarding loyal customers and potentially driving consumers through new impulse specials.

More indirectly though, you’re organically spreading brand awareness through new, unique channels. Indirectly, Foursquare enables your customers to spread the word to their friends – which could extend as far as Twitter and Facebook. Again, your social layer is developing across the internet and it’s beginning to blend seamlessly.

Who’s on Foursquare?

So far, the active Foursquare demographic is between the ages of 18 – 34. This is an important demographic to reach, and its usually very difficult without going to where they already are.

This demographic doesn’t watch TV, or listen to the radio, so you can’t reach them through mass-media advertising. This demographic doesn’t look at billboards, probably because they’re too busy texting while driving.

So you need to hang out where they hang out in order to reach them (i.e. social networks and mobile devices). Most specials or promotions have a very low expense or cost to businesses (like a free drink or upgrade).

But it allows you to reach this precious and fickle demographic and increase your brand awareness through social or viral spreading, not interrupting or pushing.