Offered Local Blog
There was a good post today on TechCrunch that noted CityMaps new funding and shed some light as to how they are blending maps, social media and local business information, all of which is going to have a significant impact on your location based marketing strategy.
“Maps have been around for millenia, but for a significant chunk of that time, they remained static, two-dimensional forms, rendered by hand on paper. It sounds crude now, even as services like Wave have us mapping our worlds with our smartphones like explorers of old. Today, with the ridiculous amount of data available on the Web and in the cloud, maps have become something else entirely, our surroundings coming alive in wizbang, interactive 3-D displays.”
The basic idea behind CityMaps is that they aggregate all the known information about a business and its location and then present that in a way that smartphone users can really use it effectively. The interface looks really good and while only providing data for a few cities at present they have more on the way, something which their new funding will be supporting.
OfferedLocal’s Take – How do mapping tools like CityMaps impact the promotion of your local deals, offers and specials?
The short answer is ease of access and with that increased competition.
As far as ease of access, today despite your deals and offers being able to be sent to your social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare the end user, your customer, still has to login to those services to see your offers. Now, though, with tools like CityMaps customers can login to one tool and see an aggregation of your information, what you are doing across many social channels and services. One of the cool features of their tool is the specific promotion of daily deals that are available at the businesses on their maps.
Now, of course, there is going to be increased competition because your business will be easily compared to other businesses in the area.
Imagine your customer is in the area and is looking at their CityMap and they see a range of similar businesses (restaurants in particular) and they see a number of businesses with very active social accounts and potential deals but you are sitting there with a small number of of social tools active (maybe just a Facebook account) and no deals, offers or promotions. It will probably mean that by comparison your potential customers will gravitate towards those more active businesses, especially those with active promotions or specials. It’s a natural reaction, just like having a well lighted business location and nice surroundings inside, people will look at the representation of this data on a map and they will begin to use it to get a sense of your business.
The bottom line is that these highly interactive maps and smartphone based mapping apps will be changing the nature of how your business is viewed and how it is compared. Customers will be able to easily see a range of businesses based on where they are located and they will be able to easily compare those businesses, their activities and their deals and promotions. So, better get to it, and begin to map out your location based marketing plan.
Location based marketing thought leader Aaron Strout has posted a nice list of location based marketing resources on his blog:
If you are new to location based marketing or trying to increase your businesses effectiveness in these areas then you should seriously check out this list. As well it would be well worth your while to check out Aaron’s book Location Based Marketing for Dummies. Also, don’t forget to follow his Twitter list of location based marketing experts.
It would be nearly impossible if you are an active user of Facebook for your business to not be aware of the fact that Facebook will be converting all of your fan pages over to the new Timeline format at the end of March. While there have been an infinite number of blog posts and short guides on what will be changing there are really only 3 things that you have to get sorted in order to flip the switch:
1 – Cover Photo – the new timeline format lets you pick a nice panoramic picture to really grab people’s attention. So, make sure this is exactly what it does, grabs people’s attention.
2 – Pick 4 key display items – while some people have added all kinds of products to their web sites (contests, video and blog displays etc.) the new Timeline format only really lets you easily see 4 of them so pick those 4 wisely.
3 – Understanding Pinning – now, of all things that it is important to understand about the changes, probably the most important is the idea of pinning. Essentially Facebook will allow you to take one of your status updates and pin it as the top story in your stream. The reason this is so important is that it is about the only place that you can deliver an initial message about you place of business because the idea of a landing page is no more. If you look closely at OfferedLocal’s pinned status update it is one of our original blog posts that talks about why we formed our company and how it all began. Use this spot wisely by connecting a key blog post or a picture or video about your business.
Over time there will be more developments and cool tricks for adapting to the big change, but the 3 items above will give you a good start in making the switch.
This weekend I had the chance to really think about the fundamentals of marketing and how it related to location based marketing and social media marketing.
I was attending a local college basketball game with my middle-school-aged daughter and her team. As happens throughout the game the coaches standing on the sidelines were shouting out instructions to their teams and sometimes the refs when the calls don’t go their way. At half-time one of the other parents from my daughter’s team commented on how the college coaches’ instructions were the same instructions that our daughter’s coaches gave them when playing even though the girls were separated by 6-7 years.
In thinking about it, this made perfect sense. Games are often won on the fundamentals, good set up, not fouling, solid picks etc. and it doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you have been playing, it is human nature to stray from the fundamentals and you need some solid grounding and coaching to win the game.
This question of fundamentals comes up a lot when were are talking with our customers, most of whom are experienced marketers when it comes to their businesses.
They’ve recently had to come to grips with new marketing ideas like social media marketing and location-based marketing and they are wondering about the changes in the fundamentals of marketing when it comes to these new ideas.
So, have the fundamentals of marketing actually changed just because I’m going to use social media marketing strategies or location-based marketing strategies in my restaurant, retail store or service business?
The simple answer is no.
So, what are the marketing fundamentals that you are already using?
- One, you have to have a suitably compelling offer because your customers are looking for things that are interesting, maybe a menu special this evening or maybe a new product that’s on sale this weekend or maybe a new service that you are offering, one of the first companies in the area to have this service. If you want customers to be interested in your business then your offers have to be compelling.
- Two, once you have a compelling offer you need to get it delivered to your market. Your business may use direct mail, it may use e-mail marketing or you may have a sign in the window or a sidewalk ad board close your business. However you can reach your customers that is what you do.
- Three, you’ve got to measure the results. They say that 50% of marketing works but most people don’t know which 50%. The truth is this is an old wives’ tale and for the most part most businesses have a pretty good idea of their return on things like direct mail and on e-mail marketing because they can see how many people open those messages and see how much their business increases after a particular offer is direct mailed or e-mailed to customers. They can also see how fast a special sells out based whether or not it is still on the board or in the window at the end of the day.
So, when we think about location-based marketing and social media marketing don’t forget it’s all about fundamentals. It’s the same fundamentals that you use and have been using in your business marketing for years; compelling offers, distribution of those offers, measuring an offer’s effectiveness. It’s really only the delivery, social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and how we measure the results (likes, shares and retweets) that has changed and they are very similar to what you are already doing today.
Just as in this weekend’s basketball example, coaches who coach junior high school kids say the same things as the coaches who coach college players and for that matter probably the same thing as coaches who coach professional players. In each of these cases, the players change, the teams they play change but the fundamentals that it takes to win the game are ever constant. This is exactly the same as the fundamentals of marketing, the tools may change and the avenues of distribution may be different but it is fundamentally the same process.
Whether or not you are a retail store owner, restaurant, or local service provider you have undoubtedly been hearing the term Location-based Marketing when it comes to marketing options for your business. Like many you’ve probably just been coming to terms with Social Media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and all of a sudden another new idea and set of terms is being thrown at you as a way to gain and influence customers.
So, what is this term location-based marketing and how is it going to improve your business? Here is OfferedLocal’s quick definition of location-based marketing:
A form of marketing that ties your physical location to either an existing or potential customer that has the ability to visit your actual location on a regular basis or during an easily defined time, such as I am walking by your store or even in your store right now.
What are some examples of location-based marketing tools?
Well to start, there are products like Foursquare and Gowalla (recenlty purchased by Facebook), which use the concept of check-in whereby by people can check-in to your location on their mobile phones and let their friends know that they have been there and where if you so choose you can create an offer or special deal based on some level of activity, such as a free X if you check-in to my store some number of times.
There are also other products such as the very popular Groupon, which makes it easy to create and distribute special offers aka coupons to purchase from your business. Groupon is primarily targeting local retailers (both small business and large chains) and finally there are the newly evolving products like Google Places, which tie together Google maps as well as information about your store and will include advertisements for those stores.
So, back to the original question, you’ve spent the last year or so working on your social media strategy and along comes location-based marketing, what is the connection and have I got to learn everything all over again?
In our opinion the connection is simple, both forms of marketing are about the people, your current and prospective customers. Social media allows you to communicate, share an interact with them once they have become a customer (or know someone who is already a customer) and the idea of location based marketing helps you influence them when they are nearby or might be planning on being nearby relatively soon. If combined together correctly they form a very powerful marketing strategy.
So, show me an example of combining location and social media together?
Well, let’s follow a common marketing activity all the way through:
- Let’s say you are a restaurant owner and you are having a special menu item, like a Two-for-Tuesday special (same goes for retail stores or a service provider, whatever specials you have can be treated the same way).
- Firstly, you want to post that special out to your social networks so you craft up the words and then post that as a status update on Facebook and Twitter, this covers all of your existing followers.
- Secondly, you create a check-in special of the same offer on Foursquare so that both existing customers as well as people checking in close by will see that you have a special and that covers new customers.
- Thirdly, you monitoring the performance of that marketing, did people share, like or retweet that offer on Facebook and Twitter and did people take advantage of that offer by checking in of Foursquare and claiming that offer.
- Finally, you make adjustments and wash, rinse repeat.
This simple 4 step process makes your regular offer social with Facebook and Twitter and location oriented with Foursquare. It is little different than placing a sign in the window or on the ad board out in front of your shop, yet it is infinitely faster and potentially more powerful because of the ability for people to comment on and share your offer.
If you have been marketing your business for a while you know that it takes time and experimentation to get things right. You also know that different types of marketing work with different groups of customers. The great thing about location based marketing is that it allows you to reach a whole group of potential customers who are mobile and when tied into your social media marketing and can really increase your reach and influence over customers who are already following your business and who can also influence others.
If you haven’t already, you certainly will be hearing about Google+, this isn’t an over-sized Google, but a new social media platform created by Google to allow people as well as businesses to connect in ever more unique ways. The question is, how will Google+ figure into a businesses’ location based marketing and social media marketing programs?
To answer this question, we need to understand the basics of Google+ and how it compares to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and potentially location based marketing services like Foursquare.
Basically, Google+ has many of the same features of all of the main social media platforms; the ability to connect with followers and fans, the ability to share content, the ability to deliver information about your business and ultimately the ability to develop and encourage actual revenue activities.
The key differences that may give Google+ an advantage in the long run are the ways in which it allows a business to categorize it’s followers, what they call circles, which makes it easier to deliver messages or share content on a more select basis than Facebook and Twitter and the tie-in to many other Google services like Google Places, which many restaurants, retailers and service businesses use to make sure their business is found on the web. Additionally, there is the golden ticket of the tie-in to Google’s search algorithm, which for that reason alone means you must make the initial effort of creating a Google+ page for your business and populating it with the same sort of content and information that you are sharing in places like Facebook and Twitter.
So, beyond the basics of having a Google+ page for your business that tells people about your business and shares things like photos and video, what do we see as the ways in which you can use Google+ to market your business?
Well, to be honest, they are basically the same things that you can and might already be doing using Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare:
- Promoting your daily deals, specials and offers
- Promoting special events taking place at your location
- Promoting new products and services
- Promoting your loyalty programs or check-in specials
- Running contests
Since most of these promotions will have specific landing pages where the details of the promotion reside, it is a simple thing to share the link to them on Google+ as well as a basic comment, at which point you are off and running with another location based social media marketing medium to drive customers and activity to your place of business.
Eventually Google+ will expand and there may be more specific promotional activities that come along but until that happens, using Google+ similarly to how you use Facebook and Twitter to promote your business is going to be a good start.
There is no doubt that it is early days for Google+ and businesses but it is definitely heading in the right direction, so the sooner you get started the sooner you will gain the marketing experience it takes to make the most of this new platform from Google.
There is no doubt that people love daily deals but, It’s happened again, another Groupon deal runs amok for a business, highlighted in a Mashable story – Large Groupon Discount Leads to Excessive Cupcake Baking
“Group discounts can be a nice thing for both the seller and the customers, but you have to know your limits. A UK baker learned that the hard way, when she was forced to bake 102,000 cupcakes, after offering a 75% cupcake discount on Groupon.”
Given the number of times this has happened, businesses coming out on the short end of the stick in one of their deals, it’s a wonder that Groupon even allows unlimited voucher offers. The truth is given all of the bad publicity that happens every time one of their customers gets screwed you’d think it would be the first thing they would stop doing, but I guess time will tell.
So, what is the takeaway for businesses? Well, first off there is nothing wrong with offering daily deals and specials, in fact they are the lifeblood of the location based marketing and social media marketing process for many restaurants, retailers and service providers but you need to adhere to a few key rules in order to have successful discount deals.
1 – Make sure you can fulfill the deals, no matter how large they might be.
2 – Make sure the deal is capable of covering at least your costs, or your costs minus what you might otherwise spend to market the same offer conventionally.
3 – Make sure you can cut off a deal if things get out of control
4 – Make sure you have a direct contact within the deal provider so that you can reach them in case of number 3
If you can adhere to the 4 items above you will certainly keep yourself out of trouble with regards to running a daily deal.
As well, remember that as a business you can create, distribute and manage your own deals, special offers and promotions using social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
In these cases you can create an offer and distribute the offer to people that are already familiar with your business and best of all you can keep the profit and customer data.
By correctly combining the concepts of daily deals and social media you can get the best of both worlds and by keeping more control over where those offers end up you can enjoy a more profitable and fair relationship between yourself and your customers.
There was a good article and study published in Forbes by Utpal M. Dholakia, professor of management at the Jones Graduate School of Business, that looked at what really motivated daily deal shoppers:
What Daily-Deal Shoppers Want
Some of the key items to note with regards to what drove daily deal shoppers and what should be part of creating your location based marketing and social media marketing strategy were:
“The strongest psychological predictor was market mavenism — the propensity to share information with others and exert influence on their purchases.”
“Value consciousness, which is an overarching concern with getting something at a low price, also did not predict number of daily-deal purchases.”
“Many daily-deal shoppers will likely buy daily deals even if the offer is a little less sweet, and the terms of the deal a little more well-defined and constrained. And it is clear to them that daily deals can remain sustainable and local merchants survive only if there is a better balance between merchant welfare and consumer savings from such deals.”
In regards to Mavenism – the desire to share, is something that drives most business that are in fact successful, those regular diners and shoppers who repeatedly come back and bring more of their friends are the lifeblood of that business. When a business wants to captivate those people you just need to make it easy to share i.e. use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to post out regular updates and offers so that those people have some to share and let them have at it.
The other two points regarding “value” and “sustainability” for the merchant and the consumer, sure people want a good deal but they also want their favorite restaurants, bars, stores and personal service providers to remain in business.
The initial allure of the daily deals market has been the idea that I could get something really cheap but the fact is that most people want to go to places that are local to where they live or work and they want good food and drinks, fair value for products that they use every day and good service, it’s really that simple and none of that involves heavy discounting of a product of service to achieve.
What businesses need to do is have offers and specials on a regular basis that provide value, reward regular customers, are easy to share and encourage them to come in a bit more often. These 4 items are key to creating a good location based marketing or social media marketing strategy.
E.B. Boyd, Writer for, Fast Company, had a good summary of the current valuations of the companies competing in the daily deals market.
Deals Company Valuations Are Plummeting: Report
“Success breeds nothing if not copycats, and few industries have seen more imitators in the last 12 months than the daily deals space. New companies pop up every week, some purporting to specialize in certain niches, others in particular geographies. According to Yipit, 53 new deal sites launched in August alone.”
No doubt, the model of just copying what Groupon and LivingSocial have done and attacking a niche or specific location is probably a lost cause, not only is it expensive it is also to taxing for the businesses to deal with, I mean how many calls a day can the person running a restaurant or store deal with before they just can’t think about it any longer?
The truly interesting place for growth in the deals space, which we like to call more of the “specials” space is when the businesses themselves can create, deliver and manage their own offers. There is currently a huge fixation with the idea of getting new customers as the reason for using heavily discounted deals but in the case of a business that gets it’s revenue from customers in fairly close proximity to their location a strategy of combining social media marketing and location based marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc.) makes much more sense for them as a way to offer deals or specials.
We’ve been working on that idea at OfferedLocal.com and have found an interesting statistic; Yipit, which tracks the daily deals market tracks about 30k deals per month in the Groupon/Living Social model however, there are actually 3.5 million local presence businesses all of which would have at least 1 “special” per day and that is just over 100 million offers per month, which is a much bigger number.
These specials can be anything from the basic buy something and get something else free to loyalty discounts for regular customers, with maybe a 10% savings or just the notice that there is a special event coming up this weekend at our store etc. These offers and specials are really the lifeblood of a small business and are not practical for the current daily deal providers to deal with because they don’t involve heavy discounting, which of course is the only thing their customers are actually interested in, which is counter-productive to the business owners needs.
We think there will always be the daily deals for heavily discounted products and services but the much larger market is the everyday deal or special, which offers value for both the business and the customer.
There was a good infographic in the What’s the Deal With Daily Deals? article by Mashable writer Charlie White.
Two facts struck me as being interesting:
1 – “60% of people only buy a deal from companies with which they are familiar”
2 – Nearly half of all deals are received or tracked via email or web sites and only 21% via deal aggregators.
As far as Item two, how deals are tracked, this makes pretty good sense although it does not bode well for deal aggregators as a business model. The big takeaway here is as a business when you are managing your own deals it is probably an even bet between using email to send a deal out to your existing customers and using a web site. BTW, Facebook and Twitter are both web sites, which is as we recommend the most logical place to distribute your offers and specials.
Now on to item 1 – the fact that 60% of people only buy deals from businesses they are familiar with indicates that many companies are probably wasting a large amount of money giving huge discounts to people that are already very familiar with their business and would probably respond just as favorably to offers or specials that were either less costly to the business or more relevant to what the person wanted. This of course is one of the chief tenants of OfferedLocal’s location based marketing and social media marketing premise and advice to businesses.
For the most part your local and loyal customers will visit your business and make purchases based on their own schedule and all most businesses need to do is provide a small nudge to those customers. It is often done via the old standards of Two-for-Tuesday menu items, new product introductions, and loyalty purchases, most of which do not involve heavy discounting such as those seen in the models used by Groupon or Living Social.
Most of the nudging that is done for many businesses comes on or near the premises; things such as the sandwich board outside the restaurant, the sign in the window of the retail store, or a bit of advertising in the local paper. The next area of expansion for these nudges is both in the social media space, Facebook or Twitter and the location based marketing space such as Foursquare. It’s really quite simple of course, every morning when you are chalking up your specials board or changing that sale sign in the window, don’t forget to logon and update your social media and location based marketing accounts letting your fans and followers know what is on special today!