Location, Location, Location(-based)
You're an old school, tried-and-true retailer. What worked when you opened up shop decades ago still works today, in your opinion. You already provide an array of solid product offerings. The "fads" of the present day don't sway you from your traditional, minimalistic marketing principles: reward loyal customers, provide products and services that will get people talking, and never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.
Congratulations, you've already mastered the fundamentals of the new "location-based" marketing.
Tools like Foursquare and its younger cousin Gowalla are often met with requisite distrust or misunderstanding by the general public and traditional marketers alike. But the mechanisms at work in location-based marketing have been around since the beginning of marketing itself, and an increasing number of brands are starting to take note.
The times I've spoken to groups about these social media tools have shown me there is still a large deficit of understanding among businesspeople when it comes to even the basic concept of these services. So first, a broad definition: Location-based applications enable users to broadcast their location, in real time, to their social media network. They usually provide an opportunity for a brief comment on the location they're at. (Some location-based services, like Yelp, are entirely centered on this concept.) In most cases, these posts are called "check-ins" and often enough of them yield some sort of virtual reward that has no bearing in the real world.
It all sounds a little hokey until you start to consider the marketing context in which we operate in 2010: Consumers today distrust advertising more than ever, and rely on recommendations from their peers online to make purchasing decisions. That's the perfect recipe for tools like location-based apps: If a potential customer sees their friend is placing their trust in your business, that prospective customer is more likely to follow suit. Even better, since the updates occur in real time, a nearby friend may decide to meet your checked-in customer at your location immediately. In an instant, you have two customers where you originally had one.
Many brands are recognizing the potential power this holds for their bottom line. A growing number offer special discounts for customers who check-in (at least a dozen on Black Friday alone). Starbucks made headlines earlier this year when "Mayors" of its stores received discounts on beverages.
none of this really qualifies as a new marketing concept. Rewarding customer loyalty and encouraging word-of-mouth are tried-and-true techniques, even if the packaging differs in the social media age. Location-based applications may not be right for every business's marketing strategy, but their fundamental underpinnings make them tactics for many large and small businesses alike that should at least be considered in the marketing planning process. Look at it as tried-and-true with a new-age twist.
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