What I’d Like to See From Location Based Marketing Services

Find your customers LBS

Location based (or geo-located) marketing is getting a huge amount of buzz at the minute, as Twitter apps connect location tweets to its service, Foursquare is credited with Domino’s Pizza’s UK success and smartphone users get ready for augmented reality to guide their leisure time.

And then there’s Facebook’s continued assault on world domination with its new Places app.

All good stuff. And yet…

For the most part, we’re still being safe and boring when it comes to how we, as marketers, use these geo-location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla to drive traffic and sales to our clients and own business.

And there are some great opportunities to set yourself apart.

Cross-Platform Marketing

One of the cool things about Foursquare is the ability to offer specials to folks who check in at your place. Yet even this is being underused, and generally stops at offering mayorships.

Why not tie it into other social media platforms you use?

For example, let’s say you have a Facebook page for your brand. When you set up a reward for your Foursquare users, why not show the message, “Thanks for checking in! Why not friend us on Facebook too, and download your exclusive code for Facebook-only offers?”

Not only does this strengthen the relationship with you, you’re offering a great call-to-action to grow your Facebook page while giving your customer even easier ways to make a purchase with you.

Mayorship Shmayorship

Check out any of the offers that businesses using Foursquare promote, and it’s usually rewarding the mayor of that location only.

Great for the mayor, but let’s face it, that can be gamed – I can check in at the coffee house across the street from my office without even entering the premises, so no sale there!

So why not offer a Happy Hour promo instead? An alert goes out to your followers, something along the likes of, “Hey guys, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. today, all purchases are 2-for-1 on everything up to $50 when you stop by and check in.”

Not only are you opening up the offer to everyone, you’re offering it with urgency – something that’s hugely effective at getting buy-in from customers.

Cross Promotion Retailing

When we shop, we don’t always go for the cheapest offer. More often than not, we go for the one that best suits our needs. That could mean mix-and-match purchasing – we get jeans from one store, a top from another, and shoes somewhere else.

So why aren’t we offering that more often via geo-location marketing?

For example, let’s say I go to the movies to see the new Batman movie. Obviously I check in there and maybe even write a note to say what I’m there to watch.

Now, imagine if that movie theatre was partnering with the local comic book store or chicken wings diner. As soon as I come out of the theatre, there’s a Foursquare alert from the comic book store that tells me I can get 10% off all Batman purchases that day.

Or if I go to the wings place, I can get 2-for-1 on special Bat wings (not real bats, obviously!) for that day only. Or good for a limited time from the update – say, 72 hours.

Again, it’s tying into something I already like so I’m more than likely to check it out. And if I like Batman, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to like comic books, too.

Like I said at the start, there are a ton of options available for smart marketers to use when it comes to geo-location.

All they need to do is find them. Do that and they might just find more customers, too.

This post first appeared on Spin Sucks, the business blog of Arment Dietrich, a non-traditional marketing agency headed up by Gini Dietrich. Spin Sucks looks to dismantle industry buzz and hype with thought-provoking insights and discussions.

image: mhartford

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Enjoy this post? Share your thoughts below:


  1. says

    Innovative ideas here Danny. Thanks. Being new to marketing I don’t often think outside the box lol

    Garnering some great ideas from experienced marketers that I will be able to implement is a huge boost in how I will be implemting a point of difference for my sourced products. Although many of my customers come from the baby boomers, I do want to have some target marketing to the younger customer base also.

    Will bookmark this and be sharing with my biz/marketing support group in our forum. We are global so will be interesting to hear their take on if any of them are doing this or if like me it is completely new concept.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • says

      Hey there Patricia,

      I think I read somewhere that baby boomers are expected to be amongst the core users of smartphones in the next 2 years. Be interesting to see how companies address that, or if they still go with “younger” marketing instead.

    • says

      Service providers and handset manufacturers need to work better with the companies that make location apps too – education is the worst part of many marketing initiatives, sadly.

  2. says

    Im still using an ancient phone (my cell has a rotary dial) so I dont have a lot of experience personally but all these suggestions make perfect sense to me. Esp cross promoting/marketing bit.

    I surprised to find out its not being implemented, but Im sure it will come soon.

  3. says

    Man Danny!

    Great ideas there. One of our big challenges is to make sure that business owners know enough (or even know ABOUT) these tools to be able to know what box to think outside of!

    Dennis Lively

    • says

      Agreed, Dennis – for companies like Gowalla and Foursquare, whose success relies on businesses taking their service up to start with, they often don’t do a very good job of marketing their products. Hey ho…

  4. says

    Hi Danny

    This my realm I am a mobile guy. I am very very very opinionated about Mobile. LBS has issues. Specifically the Satellite link in. LBS needs to be Opt In for it to have high impact. Satellite makes it hard. Many places in Manhattan the satellite can’t see you. And once indoors the only way to check in is by going outside. So if you are at a big mall per se you need to check into every store you might wish to visit before going in. I am looking at Cell Based Solutions. I have a front end (the hi I am here part- Barcodes, QRs etc can be used to initiate) but the back end doesn’t exist in the way I think it should which is customized response vs a generic one size fits all response. There is also a significant danger of LBS just being a Pricing/Margins eroder.

    Where LBS (and Mobile) is being pushed by the bad guys are things like Geo-Fences. Where basically the system sees you are in the Mall Parking Lot and you get sent 150 offers. If one platform can do this respectfully where say I can scroll through them that could work (I have dabbled a bit with ShopKick). But right now its one company at a time you sign up for which eventually would be the equal of email where most becomes spam. Do you want every business to reach out to you in the vicinity every time you run to get milk?

    So I am very bullish on LBS, but many of the platforms want to be push advertising to your phone when they want to push vs when you want to receive. And the ones that are based on you wanting to receive have that satellite limitation. Still very early in the game!

    • says

      We did a geo-fenced app for a big tech convention here at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where you chose your likes and preferences when you downloaded it from the conference website. We then worked hand-in-hand with the vendors to make sure they understood the best way to use, without being spammy or turning users off. Turned out pretty successful and we got great feedback from attendees.

      Agree completely on the danger of making it a price-specific platform – it’s where loyalty programs and cross-promotion can offer more incentive than just “Get a buck off your coffee for being mayor.”

      Cheers, Howie!

  5. says

    Hi Danny
    Visited this site a couple of times, both times I’ve been blown away with how good the site looks – makes me so jealous.

    Always thought that geographic locators were great for SEO.
    Must of us are good at Googling and know that you can cut down the number of returns if you add a geographic locator.
    Cuts down the returns from a couple of million to a couple of thousand.

    Looks as though what SEO did in the past… social marketing is doing now and will continue to do in the future.

  6. says

    Danny, the last thing I want to do when I check in on Foursquare or whatever is see a message saying, “Now go use this service too.” It seems to dismiss the work I just put into that checkin (and let face it, as of right now, it does take effort to do a check in.) Does that reward code sweeten the deal? Some, but it still annoys me as a user.

    The other ideas I like though. Mayorships drive me nuts, and I think local businesses could use those partnership ideas to get people spending locally. The only thing better than supporting one local business is supporting two!

    • says

      Oh, agree on the annoyance factor 100%, Jay – it’s where opt-in would be a far better approach than just blind advertising. Get that mix right, and you’ll have a far better chance at buy-in.

      Cheers for the comment, mate.

  7. says

    Side note, Danny: For what it’s worth, Google frowns on duplicate content on multiple sites. So when you cross-post the same content on Spin Sucks and here, both sites lose a point.

    That is, if Google hasn’t changed their policies. Something to think about.

  8. says

    Hi, interesting post. I agree with a lot of what you say about what marketers can do with location services. But do you think that there’s some reservation and lack of innnovation due to the fact that location services have a limited reach? Facebook Places have changed this somewhat but I think at the moment marketers look to the more popular platforms where you’re guranteed a higher reach.

    • says

      Hi Lauren,

      That’s a good point, and definitely somewhere that the developers of these platforms haven’t done a great job at – the marketing of them.

      Add to the fact that it’s (mostly) the tech and nerdy crowd that are raving over the platforms, and it’s clear they’re not perceived as being mainstream – at least, not yet.

      Like you say, Facebook Places should have a more positive impact on the numbers using them – time will tell.

      Of course, really smart businesses will know that it’s a good opportunity to “get in on the ground floor”, and have a solid understanding of how the platforms work, and how best to leverage them.

      Then, once their competitors are finally there, it’s only in catch-up mode. Question is, how many will take the leap? 😉

      • says

        I think that limited reach is ok since it is more likely to establish a connection with core customers. I noticed on a recent trip to California that more businesses used Foursquare. An example: A winery offered 2-for-1 wine tasting. Anyone had access, not only mayors, but how many people actually use it? It was fun to find special offers more often.

  9. says

    Foursquare drives me nuts, Yelp is the model these location based services need to follow. In most large cities Yelp has a Community Manager that helps small business owners interact with Yelpers.

    These take shape in what are called “elite” events. To become an elite yelper you need to be engaged.

    This model rewards both the elite (yelper) and the small business owner as they can engage eachother offline and learn what is working (while drinking some free beer too).

    I wrote a post about how even large retailers are dropping the ball, especially on Facebook places.