With the recent launch of Google Latitude,  location based marketing is becoming the latest hot topic amongst savvy smaller businesses. Here’s a quick guide to what it is, what it means for your business and a few of the options out there for getting started.

What is location based marketing?

Location based marketing has very much come out of the huge growth in Smart phones, which tend to be GPS equipped. This means  that knowledge about exactly where the phone’s owner is at a given time is available to the device, and can be put to some clever uses by applications on the phone – using google maps to provide detailed walking directions, for example.

Essentially, what location based marketing does is make commercial use of applications which use the physical location of the customer.  So, at a simple level, someone uses Foursquare to tell their friends where they are – for practical reasons or just bragging rights!

foursquare via twitter

So, having your business registered as a Location on Foursquare means that your customers have the option of telling people they are with you – and the act of doing this means that your business becomes visible to their friends.

How does location based marketing work for a business?

From a business point of view, the first implication of all this is that becoming involved with location based marketing  makes your business more visible – and to that “customers’ friends” group which we all know tends to be a great target market.

But, there’s a lot more to it than that. To make the most of the opportunity that location based marketing offers, it needs to be part of a wider strategy: to let customers know that you’re using it, and employing some creativity to maximise both the exposure your business gets and the ability to influence your customers’ behaviour – for example, encouraging them to visit you more often. Exactly how this will work best will be different for every business.

For example, this cruise company is using a combination of a special offer, Foursquare badge (like a digital bumper sticker which users can collect) and Twitter to promote themselves:

foursquare offer

What’s available

The number of platforms and applications out there which can handle geographically based incentives has boomed lately – the originals are Foursquare.com, followed by Gowalla, with Facebook Places and most recently Google Latitude getting in on the action.

If you are a b2c local business, especially one which needs to drive footfall to your location, this is definitely something you need to consider as part of your marketing plan.
If you’re interested in developing some effective incentives for your business, give us a call!