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.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich