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11 Creative Ways to Use Location-Based Services as Marketing

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What's one creative way to use location-based services to market a brick-and-mortar business?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.


A. Stick Out With Specials

Using location-based apps such as Foursquare and Yelp are convenient to find places to go, based on tastes or favorites. But how do you decide? Specials always convince one to go somewhere for a discount or incentive. Many offers encourage repeat visits to either become Mayor or win a prize, like how Boloco gives Mayors free burritos each Monday.
- Lane Sutton, Social Media from a Teen


A. Contests for the 'In Crowd"

Create something for your regulars who use these services, from trading cards for the wait staff to buzz word bingo -- anything to get them engaged. Then you can use location-based services to get newer visitors interested, giving them incentives to become regulars.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting


A. Check-In Scavenger Hunt!

Urban scavenger hunts are a fun and growing trend. A store could create a marketing campaign around an urban scavenger hunt, where users had to check in at a number of different places in order to complete challenges. Once users had finished every challenge, they would end up back at the store to validate their check-ins and get a free treat. It's fun and it reinforces brand recognition.
- Lauren Fairbanks, Stunt & Gimmick's


A. Incentivize Reviews

The most important element of a brick-and-mortar business's online presence is their online reputation. If people are already checking in at your location, provide value to them in exchange for positive feedback. Accumulating these positive reviews will lead to growth that exponentially builds upon itself. You just need to keep the cycle going.
- Logan Lenz, Endagon


A. Utilize Multiple Platforms at Once

Utilize multiple platforms together. A local restaurant in my town tweeted that the first person to check in on Foursquare at their location would win a free piece of pizza.
- John Hall, Digital Talent Agents


A. Organize Events

You can leverage both platforms to organize special events for your business. Whether it's a week of sales or a wine-tasting event, both networks will generate valuable buzz around it.
- Ben Lang, EpicLaunch


A. Badges Build Traffic

Create creative badges to reward loyalty and frequency. Even if you're the small local bakery, you can be the originator of the Cupcake-Crazy badge.
- Emily Eldridge, The Agency Post


A. Personalize the Experience

Plenty of companies offer discounts when people are around, but there should be a better focus around customer service and unique engagements. One technique is specifically seeking out a checked-in customer when they are in your store. Of course you can offer a discount, but using that information to say hello will create a memorable experience for the customer!
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches


A. Thank and Reward Customers

It's super simple way of building loyalty but often overlooked. Customers tweet about their experiences and often never get a response; they post a great comment to Yelp or Foursquare and are never recognized or rewarded. Reciprocity goes a long way in retailer-customer relationship. A big public thank you can go a long way to staying top of mind.
- Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting


A. Get Creative!

Think about how many check-ins you might require to share a secret menu, or the ability to quickly decide to offer discounts for anyone who comes in with their father on Father's Day. The general idea is to be creative, offer something unique and take advantage of these tools for real-time decision-making.
- Henry Glucroft, little skips / Airdrop


A. Where's the Wall of Fame?

Create a Leaderboard featuring customers with the most check-ins or regular customers who write reviews of your business. You'll need to ask them for permission to put up their photos, of course, but most will agree and be flattered. A creperie in Chicago does this to great effect -- I look for my photo on the wall every time I visit, and it has only increased my loyalty to the business.
- Emerson Spartz, Spartz Media