Incentive for Storefronts

Marketing Incentives for a Location-Based Business

Using mobile location rating and networking services is hugely untapped and a powerful little tool for business marketing, especially if you own a business that requires customers to physically visit your location to make a purchase. Unfortunately most businesses don't understand just exactly how they can use Foursquare or Gowalla and are missing out on a fantastic and inexpensive marketing opportunity.

So here are some practical tips on how to use these services to market and offer incentives for your location-based business.

Use the services like a customer loyalty card

A cool thing about these services is that they show the user how many times they have been at each location, so you could offer customers a freebie after so many check ins. Make sure you set clear rules about how to redeem the offer including: "check ins more than once per day do not count towards redemption of the free offer, or free offer value at $5.00, may not be accumulated or transferred, may not be redeemed for cash, etc."

The women's clothing store Ann Taylor recently launched a Foursquare promotion like this in New York City giving shoppers 15% off at the store after their 5th check in and giving the person with the most check ins at one location (called the Mayor) 25% off their purchase at that visit.

Another company, Tasti D-Lite, offers frequent shoppers a branded Foursquare badge, as well as additional loyalty points on their physical loyalty card, plus freebies and other perks.

Organize a real-time treasure hunt

Now this could get really fun. Leave a clue of the day on the "Tips" section of your service's page with the answer to each clue being a different special of the day. The customers who come in and guess the special, get the special, plus they are eligible to win a bigger prize at the end of the contest.

Another company, Jimmy Choo, a high-end designer footwear brand, runs this contest by having a pair of Jimmy Choo sneakers check in at various hot spots around town. The person who is able to guess the next hot spot and arrive there before the Jimmy Choo shoes arrive will win a pair of very expensive shoes.

Offer 1st Timers discount or freebie

Use a service to entice new customers to come into your store by offering a 1st Timers check in discount or freebie. "Show us your check-in and your item is on us!" Again, make sure you communicate clearly in your offer what the rules are; i.e., "free offer is only for first check in, must be redeemed with purchase of a meal, etc."

Leverage word of mouth marketing

One of the social benefits of these services is that friends can "follow" each other and thus can see each other's check in’s. Note: The check in is also posted on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp, if they've enabled the function. This is huge for your business, because every check in at your location is a tacit recommendation from the person checking in there. Leverage this exposure by inviting people to check in. Providing special offers for those who check in will encourage people to check in more often.

Also, make sure you pay attention to what people are saying online on these services about your business, because whether you use it or not, people are using it, and chances are, they are talking about your business. Personally reply back to people who leave tips or make positive comments and thank them. Likewise, it's just as important to respond to negative comments as well and to remedy the issue as soon as possible. Don't be negative; just say something like, "I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. Let's get it touch and discuss how we can make it up to you."

Tie in text message marketing with Foursquare

Invite people to take photos of them having fun or otherwise enjoying your location and text the photos to a special text message phone number. Once they do this they will have opted into your text message marketing program and you will be able to send them additional specials and discounts via text.

Source: Wendy Kenney via

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