July 6, 2011

Location-Based Marketing

If you have a brick-and-morter location – be it a storefront, a restaurant, a mobile food cart, or even a part-time business that sets up shop at places like farmers’ markets on a regular basis, location-based marketing might be a tool you want to add to your marketing toolkit.   Through sites like FourSquare and Gowalla, these are a way to incentive people to visit your business.   Currently that incentivization takes place by the awarding of points each time someone ‘checks in’ at various locations.  So anytime anyone visited your food truck, for example, they would check in online and receive a point.  The idea was that pepole would be able to play against one another and their friends and compete to gain the most points over a certain period of time.  I say “was” becuse some location-based marketing sites are phasing out the points since it’s become too easy for users to game the system.  

That doesn’t mean location-based marketing isn’t useful.  Customers can leave feedback for your location-based sites which may entice new customers to try your food.   Most of these sites also allow you to post special offers to users and these offers, which (at this point in time) are free for your to advertise, can be seen by anyone who utilizes the site.  This means that smeone looking for great apple pie in their city is able to log in, learn about your pie palace, read reviews, and see that you’re currently offering a ‘two slices of pie for $5′ promotion.  That’s a powerful way to catch customers’ interest and get them heading in your direction.  It is also believed that location-based marketing sites will soon be able to tailor recommendations to users based on their serach history and location which would prompt users with suggestions that could help drive them your way.

If you’re unsure whether you want to engage in location-based marketing or aren’t quite sure how to utilize it, do a search for other small food businesses in your area to see how they use the systems.  At the very least, since it’s currently free and claim your space, if you believe this is something your customers use it’s worthwhile pursuing.  Not sure if your customers use it or not?  Try posting a question to your Facebook Page, Twitter account, or via a blog post and see what type of response you get!