Offered Local Blog
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.
There was an interesting post and infographic that I saw in SocialCoco written by @paulbarron it was titled 2011 Most influential restaurants in the U.S. The post and info graphic outlined the many ways in which larger restaurant brands had influence in the market and where they ranked by the numbers.
One of the key comparisons from a social media marketing and location based marketing perspective was the number of Twitter followers that some of the larger brands had:
Papa Johns Pizza – 21230
Dominos Pizza – 24,789
Panera Bread – 21420
On the surface a local pizza restaurant or cafe of any sort might look at these numbers and think “Wow, can my local restaurant or my small/growing multi-state chain be as socially influential as these large brands that have big huge budgets?”.
This is a really good question and one that keeps the smaller restaurateur or marketer that works for the restaurant mulling the value of their marketing efforts. As I started thinking about this, it dawned on me that location based marketing in particular is really focused on the influence that an individual location can create. So, rather than thinking about having to compete against a big brand everywhere it is really just about competing with that big brand in the locations that you actually operate.
So, as an example, Papa Johns Pizza has 3,500 restaurants in all 50 states, which in rough numbers means that their influence could be as low as 6 followers per location (21230/3500), not really that impressive a number. By contrast there is a much smaller local chain in Boston where we are located called Upper Crust Pizza they have 19 locations and 3495 followers a ratio of 183 followers per location, a much bigger number and potentially much bigger level of influence in their local market, simply because you can only go so many places to get their pizza.
Essentially that means that each Upper Crust location has as many as 183 people that can vouch for their local store, think about this for a minute, that is a very powerful possibility.
The above numbers probably need to be flushed out a bit more but you can see that in fact it is probably more likely that a local business can create a far larger degree of social/local influence for its brand than a national brand can in the same market, it’s of course the reason there are so many great restaurants of all types in many areas that national chains compete.
So, what is the take away here? (no pun intended).
- Do not fear the big guys, they are much less influential on a local basis then their big budgets and large numbers of socially oriented followers would indicate, especially when broken down on a local basis
- Embrace social programs even if the early numbers seem small to you, it takes time, just like building a business it does not happen overnight
- Combine social media marketing and location based marketing to create locally focused campaigns that bring people to your specific locations, don’t try to be a large brand, be a strong local brand, your customers are local and so are your locations
It’s easy for marketing to seem daunting and we often make the mistake of comparing ourselves to large successful companies when in fact the comparison is not really relevant. Remember, when web sites became common place there was a general leveling of the playing field between big and small and now with social media and location based marketing it would appear that in some senses the field is tilting in favor of the local business, which can create a much more influential customer base.
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.
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.
Whenever you are starting a new company or building a new product you are generally driven by the need to address a particular issue in the marketplace. In many cases it starts with a problem that you have or one that you discover as you are working with clients in a different area. As you begin to look into the issues you read blog posts, check news stories and look at related products to determine if the problem is real, big and potentially within your realm to solve, especially if you are going to be doing it as a start-up company.
Sometimes the time between the idea gelling and the product marketing/sales activities kicking off can be 6 months maybe even more and you have had to put into words many times what it is you believe and what it is you are doing. This process tosses out the incorrect ideas and assumptions and gives you a whole lot of practice coming up with what it is you are really doing and who you are doing it for.
It’s at this point that I love to crank out a Wordle, a cool form of word visualization that brings out common ideas from mounds of text. Above I have inserted the current Wordle for OfferedLocal based on a few writings and blog posts that have been done while we were getting the idea, company and product up and running.
So, what we believe we are doing is creating a platform for location based marketing which brings together social media marketing and to some extent mobile marketing, since most people are using their phones as if they were a computer.
In looking at what we have written about we can see a slightly different pattern emerging with prominent words such as; Social, People, Offers and Marketing, hence the catchy blog title “Social People Like Offers”. I like to say Wordles don’t lie, which is really to say that there are key aspects of related writing that are sometimes lost until you visualize them correctly.
So, what does this have to do with location based social medial marketing? Well, it points out that if you are a marketer, you need to remember that this is currently all about social people and their desire to get something in return for their engagement with your company.
There have been a few articles already, particular Mashable’s – Virgin America Rewards Checkins with Frequent Flyer Points – that have highlighted this desire and some of the early promotions that are addressing this desire:
“Virgin America, for instance, is using the platform to offer application users frequent flyer points in exchange for their checkins“
“Some other top-notch rewards include 10% off rentals from Avis, 50 bonus points for checkins at Doubletree, Quality Inn, Comfort Suites and Cambria Suites hotels”
Of course this isn’t just for big companies, if you are a local restaurant doing your own promotional marketing or a local retail store managing your social media marketing you need to not only provide people with info about your venue or products but give them something for being in the know or checking into your location. It can be something as simple as reminding them about your midweek dining specials (because who wants to cook on a Wednesday) or giving them advance notice about an upcoming sale, or in both of these cases creating offers that are only for this group of people, making it really exclusive.
As we continue building out our product and business I will run all of our blogging and marketing material through the Wordle process to see what interesting things pop up, does our view on location based marketing or social media marketing change or are we seeing variations on ideas emerge from within the cloud of words being written on the subject?
So, for now, social people like offers, remember that!