by Scott Moody
What if someone told you that there were services available that allowed you to easily and cost-effectively promote your business, gain referrals, advertise specials and increase your web presence — all in one giant swoop? If you have any business savvy at all you would immediately jump at the chance. Well, you're in luck.
Location based services are web- and mobile-based networks and apps that allow users to gain information on virtually any topic within their current geographic location. The central idea behind these services are to enable users to quickly and easily find relevant and interesting local attractions, businesses, events, etc., and in the case of most of these services, allows them to "check-in" and share information through social networks.
To give you a better understanding, picture this: John and Jane Homeowner realized that their recent Super Bowl party would have been 10 times better if they owned a great audio system. He decides to find a local electronics retailer and queues up Yelp on his iPad. He searches "home theater" and sees a listing for "The Awesome AV Store", which, turns out, is only 10 minutes from his house. He checks the reviews for The Awesome AV Store and sees that they are known for great customer service and have a great demo area.
John and Jane hop in the car and drive down to The Awesome AV Store. After getting to the store, they quickly see why the business had such great reviews. They are welcomed by a courteous staff member, who takes the time and steps necessary to make sure John and Jane understand everything they need to know about great audio. After taking in a few different demos, they find the perfect system for their home and proceed to checkout.
As they are standing at the check-out counter, John whips out his phone, fires up the foursquare app, and "checks in" to The Awesome AV Store location on foursquare. He also includes a tip with a post, proclaiming "The Awesome AV Store is hands down the go-to place for your audio system." He selects the option to share this info through his Twitter and Facebook feeds to spread the good word about The Awesome AV Store.
As an even greater benefit, once he completes checking in on foursquare, he is immediately notified that The Awesome AV Store has a foursquare promo that gives everyone 10 percent off a purchase for checking in on foursquare for the first time.
While John is sharing his experience through Foursquare, Jane is logging into her Facebook account via her phone to "brag" about her and John's new system. She also hits the "check in" button on Facebook and selects The Awesome AV Store listing. She types "With John and just got an amazing new audio system at The Awesome AV Store." Through the Facebook Places feature, The Awesome AV Store immediately links back to The Awesome AV Store's official Facebook Page, allowing everyone in Jane's Facebook network to see more about the store.
There is no better marketing than word of mouth and with social media and the ease of use through mobile platforms, your business now has the ability to encourage word of mouth... on steroids. So how do you get started? Using the three popular services mentioned in the example above, here are your next steps:
Make sure your business is listed on Yelp by visiting the Yelp for Business Owner's page at biz.yelp.com. Yelp will walk you through the steps to make sure your business information is listed and correct.
Have your business and its address listed on foursquare by visiting foursquare.com/business/merchants. You can also establish specials and promotions to entice people to check in and share information about your store from here.
Search for your business name on Facebook. If there is already a Facebook Place for your business, click on it. If there is no Facebook Place for your business, go through the "check in" process on the Facebook app on your phone while you're at your store. It will allow you to add a location. Enter all the necessary information there. Once your business has a listing on Facebook Places, click the link on the left hand sidebar that says "Is this your business?" and follow the directions to verify you are the owner.
Once you have any or all of these listings established, promote them at your location by placing signs or stickers to tell visitors to check in (e.g. "We're On Foursquare!").
Utilizing the benefits of location-based services, including Yelp, foursquare and Facebook Places, will enable you quickly and easily spread the word about all the great things you offer.
by Scott Moody