I got very excited this week, as I saw the opportunity for offline businesses to promote themselves effectively online was coming to fruition.
Why would this excite me?
Well, the majority of small businesses struggle to fully embrace the web due to either a lack of resource or budget. This then leaves them disheartened and of the view the web offers them nothing value, when in fact the opposite is true. These are exactly the type of businesses which should be harnessing it’s power and using it to reduce costs and increase income. This week I got to put a new application and loyalty program into place for some of our shops, not only was it free, this application then hit the press due to it’s rapid growth!
At this point I would like to introduce you to Foursquare. This simple concept built off the back of Social Media, levearages the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and mobile devices, along with our competitive nature, to encourage us to visit shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, bars and many other offline businesses.
The idea is simple, I go to the local coffee shop, via my mobile device I check-in through Foursquare it then announces I have visited this location, with my permission, via Social Networks. But more than that it gives me points for adding new locations, badges for visiting certain places a certain number of times. And if I visit somewhere more often than anyone else Foursquare announces me Mayor of that location.
Playing on the back of our egos and the one-upmanship we like to have over others along with a simple Facebook style game, which have proved very popular, this leads to an addictive little application that is spreading fast.
Okay so we have a silly game and something that tells my friends where I am, how does that benefit the business?
Harnassing the power of this application businesses are able to offer users (customers) rewards based on their loyalty. As an example a pub could offer the customer that is the Mayor on Sunday evening his first drink free. A cafe could suggest that you check in with them 5 times in one month to get a free cake. The reward combinations are endless and best bit is that Foursquare is free!
As a business if you register with them you can get stats on vistors that check-in with you on Foursquare. Better still on some devices Foursquare can announce your offer if a user is within a certain distance from you, helping to drive footfall.
I really think this application and the many that are likely to come after it offer real value to small businesses. Enabling them to have a voice on the crowded high street using the power of online promotions to drive footfall with a great loyalty scheme that would be too costly for most small businesses to implement.
I urge you to give it a go or encourage your local retailer, publican, bar manager or restaurant to try it. Foursquare is growing rapidly, it’s free to use and when it hits the headlines in the mainstream press like Twitter did you’ll be on it already!