Gini Dietrich

Geo-Location Marketing

By: Gini Dietrich | July 22, 2010 | 

Guest post by Danny Brown, the social sensei at Bonsai Interactive

Ah, geo-location marketing. It’s 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.

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.

Danny Brown is the social sensei at Bonsai Interactive, a small and mighty team of technology, media and marketing nerds rocking the social web. His blog is featured in the AdAge Power 150 list as well as Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs, and won the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog at the 2010 South by South West festival. You can find Danny on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I really like this post. While being the mayor is fun, I agree that it’s easy to cheat. In fact, until the Foursquare software becomes more delicate and GPS is more accurate, those specials can always be won without adding to the sales of the business.

    As a foursquare user, I’d like to see more specials like the ones listed above. Cross-promotion would be incredibly effective.

    I’d also like to see restaurants and bars utilize a different type of special. Perhaps there is a way to give something away on your tenth check-in, sort of like a loyalty card.

    The businesses could even go further and have a “Swarm party,” where there would be a special if more than 50 people checked in; everyone would get a Swarm Badge, and it would drive people into the restaurant. If 50 people didn’t check in, there would still likely be a large crowd ready to spend money.

    Of course, this all really depends on the involvement of the businesses themselves. In smaller cities, many owners don’t even know what Foursquare is yet,and even in a city like Madison Wisconsin it is used very little. Getting the owners to understand that utilizing Foursquare/Location-based social media can drive revenue is really the first (and sometimes hardest) step.

    Tom Miesen

    • Hey there Tom,

      Agreed, and I think this is the one area where these platforms still need to grow. It’s all well and good that we (as active users of this space) know how to check in, and benefit from offers.

      But until more acceptance and awareness is involved, then it’ll continue to be a relatively small niche.

      Funnily enough, we’re talking to one of our clients about loyalty rewards with multiple check-ins, and tying it to a relevant offer. It involves changing their POS system and new loyalty card sign-up, but the interest is there, so who knows? 🙂

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  • I’ve wondered about the concept of rewarding the mayor too. Doesn’t seem like the best use of geo-location platforms.

    Chances are, you’re rewarding a person who is already going to be at your store regularly, with or without foursquare.

    Perhaps it makes others come more often in order to steal the mayorship, but again…it doesn’t seem like it’ll bring in people who weren’t coming in anyway.

    Rewarding people who simply check in is a great way to tap into the geolocation userbase. Maybe you create a “to-do” for people to come in an try your new drink or dish.

    Love the idea of cross promoting. It really taps into the power of geolocation. If you know what people are doing, and can provide them with highly relevant deals/opps, it will be sure to reach people.

    David, Scribnia

    • Agreed, fella.

      The problem with just rewarding the Mayor is that soon you get fed up of trying to oust someone, so you give up on checking into that location.

      Which kinda seems to defeat the purpose of trying to encourage check-ins and outlet awareness to begin with… 😉

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  • Hi Danny & Friends,

    I love FourSquare and think it is grossly underutilized. You will never get the adoption up, though, until the stores start getting creative with it. I love the idea of the swarm party. It took me ages to get the mayorship of my local grocery store but they probably don’t even know that I was fighting to get it. I just wanted a mayorship and I am not an “out on the town” kinda gal so my grocery store was my best bet. Good for a free chicken wing or two would be nice…assuming they’re fresh.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Amy.

      Instead of Foursquare, Gowalla and others making it attractive to the geek crowd (who’d probably already know about it anyway), concert the efforts on raising awareness with smaller, hyper-local business.

      Since, despite what we may believe in the social space, that’s where a lot of everyday business still happens.

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  • karyncooks

    Great overview. Sometimes you just have to throw some stuff at the wall where new technology is concerned. Example: I just recommended that a specialty automotive client get active on a car enthusiast’s social check-in site/app. They’re out and about all the time so they’ll check in with photos of cars they’re test driving, delivering, and exploring with a simple final call to action: Call us for your hassle-free test drive and new car lease.

    Will let you know how that turns out!


    • GiniDietrich

      @karyncooks I love this idea! PLEASE do let us know how it turns out!

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