Offered Local Blog
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.
Google Latitude, the search giant’s location-sharing mobile app, is launching checkin offers nationwide, giving users the ability to unlock discounts with a handful of launch partners.Much like Foursquare and Facebook, Latitude now reveals different offers if a user checks in to locations hosting a Latitude deal. However, Google adds…
via Google Rolls Out Checkin Deals for Latitude Nationwide.
In the Mashable blog post above it was noted that Google might be a little late to the location based checkin party and is aggressively moving in response to its inability to acquire Groupon, all of which could be true to some degree. For once though I think that Google might just be continuing with a plan started long ago, which might have been helped if they had acquired Groupon but is ultimately rolling forward at great speed regardless. So why is that?
- Google has a dominant mapping system used across the web and over the phone
- Google is going to be the dominant smart phone operating system, where said mapping system resides
- Google has Google Places, on said mapping system
- Google has trained businesses to buy ads for the web and it will be easy to buy ads/deals for mobile devices
- Both the buyer (businesses) of ads in the form of deals and the end user of the deals, the consumer know the Google brand and for the most part trust it
I could go on and on but at this point it is pretty clear that Google will get a large portion of the deal market regardless of its perceived lateness to the party. One might actually conclude that Google is just fashionably late?
So, what does this mean for businesses and the deals market when it comes to location based marketing?
- The ability to offer deals is going to get easier, Google is good at making things pretty easy
- The cost of offering deals will decline i.e. no longer having to share a large portion of the revenue as was common in the case of early Groupon deals, might actually become extremely cheap as Google can afford to drive numerous competitors to the brink with its war chest of cash
- You will really need to have your Google relationships tied up; claim your place, create a good profile
- Be ready to experiment with deals sooner rather than later, the current deals are being released by national brands but soon enough local small businesses will be able to create and run deals of their own
In the end, the here a deal there a deal mentality is here to stay and it’s only a matter of time before everyone has one.
Last week there was a great article in eMarketer titled SMBs Turn to Social Before Search. Based on the stats and questions raised there is continuing evidence that social media marketing is becoming a dominant force for all types of marketers in particular those who are blending social media and location based marketing .
Two key points from the blog post jumped out at us:
“US small businesses recognize word-of-mouth as the top way their customers find them, followed by the internet and search engines.”
“The reliance on word-of-mouth—likely along with the low cost in dollars of participating—has led small businesses to make social media their No. 2 online marketing effort, after company websites.”
As we’ve noted in several posts word-of-mouth is and has probably always been the best form of marketing available, happy customers love to talk and increasingly love to share via many social channels: Facebook, Twitter, foursquare etc.
The key things for harnessing the power of social media, word-of-mouth reliability and location based marketing are as follows:
- Make sure you are active in the top social media channels: Facebook and Twitter
- Actively share and promote special deals and offers across both the social and check-in services
- At each touch point offer the ability to further connect i.e. on Facebook suggest that people follow you on Twitter and check-in for deals on foursquare, your goal is to complete the circle knowing that you have many ways to reach out to a customer depending on what social platform they are using at any given time.
In summary, it’s clear that word-of-mouth is still the key driver of new customer acquisition and the most convenient form of word-of-mouth is social media. So, if you are focused on getting new customers to your physical location then you need to blend your social media marketing strategies with your location based marketing strategies so that word-of-mouth can translate into new business.
Mashable had a good article titled “Mobile by the Numbers” which lays out the groundwork for some interesting opportunities in location based marketing and mobile marketing strategies.
“Mobile is a rapidly developing sector. According to some projections, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop usage before 2015. In preparation, companies are developing new mobile commerce platforms, strategies, and marketing efforts.”
In the above article and infographic, well worth checking out, there were several things that really stood out:
- 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices
- 91% of mobile internet access is to socialize
- 33% of Facebook‘s users use Facebook Mobile
- 59% of ‘s users us Twitter Mobile
So, what does this mean to someone who is trying to develop a marketing strategy for their business, in particular a local, physical location based business like a restaurant, salon or hotel?
Firstly, marketing today is all about capturing the local customer that is using a mobile device. The evidence is pretty clear that if your business is in a physical location then you need foot traffic and if you want foot traffic then you need to make it easy for people to find you on a local basis. This means you need to claim your spots on tools like Facebook Places and Google Places and provide as much information about your business as possible so that people searching can find you and say “Hey that sounds like just the place I want to go to”.
Next, it is recognizing that the majority of your current and potential customers are social and social people like offers, so you need to think about ways to entice customers to your location. There of course has been lots of time devoted to discounts, in particular those of coupon giant Groupon, but remember it’s not always about huge discounts, there is nothing wrong with the good old Two-For-Tuesday promotion or the loyalty approach of rewarding return shoppers, these types of promotions have worked for decades and will continue to do so long after the bargain hunting crazy has slowed down.
Finally, the biggest points of distribution, aside from your email database, will be the two leaders in social media Facebook and Twitter and for our purposes we would throw in foursquare and Google places, two relatively new but rapidly growing options. So, you need to get active in those areas and think of these tools as points of distribution in your overall marketing as well as mobile marketing plans.
In the end there is a simple formula for location based marketing that combines social media and mobile marketing options and the formula looks like this:
Mobile information availability + useful offers, distributed across social media channels = increased foot traffic and potential sales
If you focus your marketing on this formula and learn what offers your customers respond to, then you will be well on your way to making a success out of your mobile marketing plans and capturing the local lead as mobile activities continue to grow and ultimately dominate the market.
There was an interesting story today in the New York Times – Your the Boss – Is Groupon Ruining Retailing? one of the most interesting statements in the post to me was:
“a typical new customer is gained because a business is near the customer’s home or office, or because the customer heard something good about the business”
This is one of the reasons that for many businesses a location based marketing strategy that uses social media marketing components is going to be more successful than relying on coupons or heavy discounting to generate more business.
As an example there is probably more business to be had in getting existing customers to increase their visits to your store than there is in using coupons to get new customers, simply because existing customers who visit more often will be more likely to spread the word about your business and of course make more purchases.
Now, what you have to do is give your existing customers the ability to share their love of your business. This of course is one of the main drivers behind things like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare etc. They provide the venue for businesses to share their information and then rely on their best customers to spread the word. Some of that exists with Groupon, you can share the offer, but the premise is different and as such Groupon programs run the risk of generating “coupon seeker” new customers as several comments eluded to in the post.
Several of the comments noted that we are breeding a culture of expected discounts, which is very possible. Personally, I like discounts but in thinking about my own locally based shopping and dining habits, I still think I like a more combined value proposition: easy to get to, good service and fair value in the price. It’s great when a place that I like has a deal but it isn’t the thing that wins me over completely. This is one of the primary reasons that developing a social media strategy that connects you to your customers and gives them a way to easily share the value of going to your business is such a key component to any business marketing plan.
You can check out the rest of the comments from the original post in the New York Times below.
As if we didn’t already have enough daily, weekly or even monthly deal sites, there was quick coverage in Xconomy Seattle regarding Bing‘s foray into the deal aggregation space:
Bing Tries to Make Sense of Rapidly Crowding Daily Deals Space
Truth is We Love It!
The more ways to create deals (daily, weekly, monthly) and the more ways to distribute them; social media, location based marketing and search based marketing the better. It’s interesting to consider how far this will all be able to extend itself. Consider this, that billions upon billions of dollars of commerce take place every year from physical locations and of course we all want a deal, so unlike some markets it would seem as if the market for deals and deal type services; coupons, offers and promotions is extremely large and clearly at an early point.
So, if there are billions of dollars and millions of people and a 100 services to deliver your deals, what in the world are you going to do to manage it all?
At this point the best thing is to do is jump in, it will be a long time before there is a final shakeout when it comes to social media marketing (Facebook, etc.) and location based marketing (foursquare, Gowolla) and search based marketing (Google Places, Bing etc.) and the 100s of other startups coming in from around the corner. To begin you’ve got to make sure you understand the relationship between social media marketing and location based marketing and you need to have social media and location based services being used in your business, but that is all pretty easy to create.
The real need to focus on is managing the creation and distribution of coupons, offers and promotions. It can be a bit daunting but here are a few key premises:
- There are likely differences between your followers based on the type of social media (Facebook v Twitter), so it is also likely that your offers and promotions will need to be different for each audience
- There are differences between people who search by keywords and people who are on the road searching for a location. So, as above, it is also likely that your offers will need to be different for each of those types of services to make sure your offer is in the right time frame i.e. an offer next Tuesday doesn’t do me any good if I am driving by on a Thursday
In simple terms you need to think about the types of offers you currently make; two for Tuesday, X% off, by one get one, loyalty purchasing etc. and craft and distribute offers based on the channel and the medium.
Now, do you have to be a rocket scientist to do this correctly?, well no. What you have to do is start making offers and seeing what happens, making adjustments along the way and gaining insights into how your customers, followers and channels behave. Lots of people may get caught up in the enormity of it all but you just have to chip away at it one offer and one customer at a time.