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Lee Odden

17 Location-Based Marketing Tips To Drive Word of Mouth & Referrals

By Lee Odden     Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Online Marketing, Small Business, Social Media

location based marketingNote from Lee: When I heard from Aaron Strout that he and Mike Schneider were writing a book, Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, I knew it would be a great resource. We often do book reviews here on Online Marketing Blog but Aaron and I decided on this format instead, focusing on specific tips and tactics you can use today.

Writing a book takes a lot of work, but with the work is done, it’s satisfying to look back and read all the content that got created. One downside to writing a physical book, however, is trapping all that content between two covers, especially for anyone that decides not to read the book. Rather than let that happen, we are unlocking 17 of the best tips from Location-Based Marketing from Dummies.

Before diving it, we should probably start by explaining what location-based marketing is. In short, location-based marketing is the art of engaging your customers and prospects using services like foursquare, Yelp, SCVNGR and Gowalla to drive loyalty, word of mouth marketing and referrals. While the tools (location-based services) may be new to some people, the approach and execution behind creating a good campaign are not that disimilar to that of any other strong marketing program.

Now that you have a little bit better sense of what location-based marketing is, let’s dive into the tips. As a frame of reference, these tips appear in the order they occur in the book and range from the strategic to the tactical. For any of you that already have the book (or plan to pick up a copy), we’ve included the page numbers next to the tips if you’d like to read more about that particular topic:

  1. Align your goals with the right platform: Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the platforms allows you to pick the right platform for a campaign or tailor your marketing campaign around a platform (p. 42).
  2. Make sure your business is set up correctly on Google Places: Because one in three Google searches is conducted with local intent, and Google Places Pages are prominently displayed in Google results, claiming your Google Places Page is vital to your online marketing (p. 64).
  3. Ensure your own location(s) are “check-in” worthy: Would you check-in to your own location a second time? While it’s always dangerous to form a focus group of one, nobody knows your business better than you. Is your check-in experience as good as other memorable experiences (p. 69)?
  4. Need help merging multiple foursquare venues? Get a superuser to do it: If someone else set up your company’s venue(s), you may need to edit the details or even merge multiple venues into one. Look no further than the list of foursquare superusers or active users who have been designated with special administrative powers. Request a venue merge/change by a supersuser here (p. 79).
  5. Create a Budget for your campaign: This may sound like we are stating the obvious but like any good marketing program, creating a budget for your location-based marketing campaign will help you stay focused and measure your success over time (p. 85).
  6. Make sure your employees are ready: One of the most important things you can do when you set up a location-based campaign is to make sure your employees are prepared and aware of the rules. Sometimes printing up a one page cheat sheet with all the details can be a great way to ensure everyone’s on the same page (p 86).
  7. Encourage employee participation: While you don’t necessarily want your employees owning the “mayorship” or other top designations awarded for those that check-in the most to your venue, you also don’t want to discourage their participation. In fact, some of your best “tips” and overall campaign suggestions may come from your employees as they are the ones that know your day-to-day business best (p. 87).
  8. Surprise with badges: Not all offers need to cost money. In the case of several location-based services, there is a “badge” option which rewards things for a first check-in, check-ins at several similar type establishments or multiple people checking into the same place at the same time. (p. 99).
  9. Transform loyalty programs into social loyalty programs: By incorporating location-based services into your loyalty program, you give customers additional ways to earn points, rewards and recognition. You also provide them incentives to share their check-ins across other social platforms like Twitter and Facebook thus broadening your reach (p. 104).
  10. Understanding the difference between paid, earned and owned media: Understanding the differences between paid (advertising), owned (your website, Facebook account, etc.) and earned (media coverage or conversations about your company on the web) is key to any good integrated marketing campaign. Understanding how this “holy trinity” of media affect your location-based marketing campaign are equally important (p. 119).
  11. Create an ambassador program: Tap some of your best customers (particularly those that check in regularly) to form an ambassador program. Get them together regularly — monthly or quarterly are good frequencies — either on the phone or in person. Ask them to help you create the best offers and program possible (p. 125).
  12. Learn from what other businesses have done: The saying goes that “mimicry is the highest form of flattery.” That being the case, why not check out what some of your peers are doing for their location-based marketing campaigns. That can be as simple as walking around your downtown and checking in OR if you’re using foursquare, you can see some examples of brands using the service here (p. 125).
  13. Specify which geographic areas you cover in Google Places: If you’re a service business that travels e.g. a plumber, you can specify on Google Places which areas you cover. This is also helpful for pizza/food delivery businesses (p. 131).
  14. Review your favorite LBS “places” database: Every location-based service has a location database called the “places database.” This places database lists every variation of your company’s name; you need to search for each variation to extract all the data pertaining to your business (p. 158).
  15. Monitor your competitors traffic: This may seem a little shady but keeping an eye on your competitors check-in traffic can give you a sense of how many people are checking in and what they are saying. This is fairly easy to do using a tool like Tweet Deck or Hootsuite. (p. 161)
  16. Think about which key performance indicators are critical: Any good program should have key performance indicators that it tracks. These include metrics like daily check-ins, check-ins cross-posted to Twitter, comments and tips, photos, offers/deals redeemed (p. 165).
  17. If your business is a restaurant or bar, think about table tents and placards: Many businesses fall down when it comes to cross-promoting their location-based campaign with other types of marketing and advertising. If your company is a restaurant or bar, you should absolutely remember to print table tents and placards describing your program — remember to include which service(s) you support, what offers and how to download the app if necessary (p. 221).

What location-based marketing tips do you have for businesses? Be sure to include them in the comments. As a bonus, we will randomly pick one of the “tips” to receive a free copy of the book.

Mike Schneider is the senior vice president, director of digital incubator for allen & gerritsen. Aaron Strout heads location-based marketing efforts at WCG.


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