If you market locally for your business, you are likely to have spoken recently to counterparts that are utilizing location-based marketing to reach out to local audiences. The power of this genre when combined with wireless internet is unmistakable. One only needs to browse sites like Groupon to see that a special run locally can turn into hundreds if not thousands of sales in a day’s time.
The flip side of that type of success for many business owners, especially restaurateurs, is to ensure proper planning for events so that service levels for clients do not drop and the specials that are offered do not end up being a net cost.
With several different options available, the most utilized services by businesses are currently Foursquare, Groupon, and Facebook Places (now a “tag” option in Facebook user’s status updates). Each service offers a different opportunity for business owners.
Groupon is a site that allows business owners to run specials, which are then in turn promoted within a specific geographic area to subscribers. Similar to the type of advertising that used to be done in print, their innocuous delivery of promotions is normally successful when subscribers see significant savings over the regular price.
As their site aggregates and displays the total number of people that take advantage of the offer, it also adds a sort of bandwagon effect for those that may be interested in trying your product or services out.
Although smartphone and tablet users make up a significant portion of Groupon subscribers via wireless intenet, the number one way chosen to receive offers is still e-mail, meaning that your special will also be significantly distributed to those using PCs in your local area.
Foursquare is somewhat different in that it focuses solely on location-based tracking to allow users to check-in at businesses that they frequent. More useful as a tool to retain clientele, it also tends to bring new customers that are part of an existing social circle onto your premises.
For the consumer, the concept of putting a group of friends together and sharing where you have been and where you might be going is a powerful way for acquaintances to keep in touch.
Very successful in urban areas, businesses that utilize Foursquare receive their own webpage that tracks the number of check-ins and allows them to reward their most frequent users by crowning them mayor or offering specials based on number of visits.
Facebook Places is similar to Foursquare in that it ties business owner’s community pages to location-based marketing, allowing Facebook users to check in at local businesses. Its strengths are its complete integration with Facebook and its ability to drive traffic to a business owner’s community page; a boon for businesses that already market by frequently updating their page.
Among users, while Facebook reaches a much larger audience as a social network, Foursquare still dwarfs it when it comes to the number of users that actually check-in and share their location with their friends. Fortunately, as a local marketer, you don’t have to weigh the competition between Foursquare and Facebook since it is free for business owners to create a presence in both places.
A contributor of all things technical, Blake Sanders writes at broadband comparison site Broadband Expert and specializes in wireless internet, cell phones, as well as industry news and information.