2 posts categorized "Location based marketing"

10/21/2010 Does Location Based Marketing Bring Out the Dog in Us?

When I was a kid, my best friend had a very hyper dog-named Herald (my friend was pretty hyper too). We used to get a kick out of the fact that Herald peed on everything, everywhere. Actually, as 10-year-old boys, we were impressed he could actually pee that much! The dog was actually marking: his territory, new things, or even old things. Herald actually gave me my first lesson in location-based marketing.

Fast forward to Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places. I love using Foursquare and I’ve read over and over again how brands will use these tools to reward customers. In the mean time, most of the reward comes in the form of becoming “mayor” of different locations.

But if rewards are key to location based marketing, why do people still do it if they have no chance of attaining those rewards? Even though I’ve lost mayorships of some places, I still check in when I go there, as do most of the people I know. The only place I’ve actually used a reward from was the Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop on Church Street in Burlington.

I think there's more to it than that: I think services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places bring out a reptilian need in us to leave our mark. We mark our territory (“I’m the Mayor!”) or we mark as messages (“Hey everyone, that’s me you smell”) or we mark when we find something new (“Check out this great restaurant”).

In short, we use location based services in the same way dogs use their urine.

Web MD has this description on its Web page:

“Social Triggers

Exciting social situations can trigger urine marking. Some male dogs only urine mark when in the presence of female dogs (especially if they’re in heat), and some urine mark only when interacting with other male dogs. Some dogs only urine mark when visiting homes where other dogs have urine marked before. Other dogs only urine mark when they become highly aroused and over stimulated in social situations. These dogs often mark nearby objects, people or other dogs.”

Now just replace dogs with the word people and urine mark with check in.

It makes sense doesn’t it? And just so you don't think I'm getting sexist on you here, it turns out that female dogs have the same marking instincts as male dogs.


Dog Pee P133 Art by Dug Nap, click here for more of Dug's work.

03/15/2010 Foursquare, Brands and Location-Based Rewards

Foursquare announced a partnership with Starbucks last week. Starbucks' customers who check in with Foursquare have a chance to win a Barista badge. This comes on the heels of another brand, Tasty D-Lite, who’s rewarding loyal customers who check in with Foursquare with points on their customer cards. Ultimately it might be worth a free ice cream.

TastiDLite1Most everyone agrees that we’ll see more and more brands jumping into location-based marketing. The question they’re all struggling to answer is: What’s in it for the customers?

A Barista badge might be cool, but it’s not that cool. Starbucks is playing around with ideas like invitations to special events or online reputation scores (?). Tasty D-Lite is going a more traditional route with the virtual punch card. I wonder, though, if either of these provides very much value to customers.

If you look at the witch’s brew of Foursquare and Gowalla at SXSW, a good experimental lab, you’ll find that many of the attendees find the value of the location-based tools in letting others know where to find them. The connection is the value. Sure, there are badges, but I don’t see anyone tweeting them. While reward is the people, the location can sometimes takes a back seat.

At home, there’s a slight value to mayorship, but not much. Defending a mayorship can quickly become a burden. Instead, there’s a joy in seeing others in the same spot, or asking them about the notes they leave. But even then, there are bunches of people using Twitter who are not using Foursquare or Gowalla, even though they respond to Foursquare tweets.

I’m not sure virtual clip cards or online reputation awards will work. Instead, brands should use those connections to create even greater connections between its customers, preferably at the place of business. I can think of a few of my favorite Foursquare places where I’d love it if they had a private party for their best Foursquare customers. I’m sure people would kill to get into those.

Location-based marketing feels very cool and we’re just starting to understand what it means. But those brands that can use it to make real human connections, and not just give out flimsy rewards, will provide the most value to customers and earn their loyalty.

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