The great thing about using location-based networks like Foursquare or Facebook Places for promoting special offers from your brick-and-mortar business is that it’s giving the consumer information when they need it and when they are close to your business (so they can spend money). This type of service has received loads of attention as of late, and many new players have joined the game like Groupon and now Google is also launching Google Offers.
If you are new to this idea and this is starting to blow your mind, let me step back for a second and walk you through what happens. We’ll use Facebook as an example as I’m betting big bucks that you have that on your phones!
Step 1 – Open your Facebook application on your smartphone and find the Places icon in the center of the screen.
Step 2 – Select ‘Check-in’ on the next screen.
Step 3 – This will bring you to the list of places that Facebook Places has around you. In this list, you may see some businesses that have a nice yellow icon next to it. Chances are, you saw this first! That’s a Facebook Deal.
So when your clients, or prospective clients, are checking in on Facebook, they’ll see these deals promoted at local businesses. This is the same gig with the Yelp! mobile application, too.
If they have Groupon, they’ll get a pop-up on their phone notifying them of a deal locally. If they have Foursquare, they have the option of exploring the area and the places with specials get priority in that list by category.
However, this is all based on people actually logging into the social network and checking out the places around them. This is no doubt happening more and more frequently, but it is still a shift from seeing a street sign to staring at your mobile phone.
Visa is now in the game, but through a very different mechanism. Rather than detecting where you on using your mobile phone, it can detect where you are based on where your card gets swiped. It will then send you offers via text message in the local area.
The difference with this service versus the social networks, is that you must sign-up or opt into the text message service, but it also uses your purchase behavior to identify the deals that are most suited to your interests. Bonus for the consumer. On the flip side, it’s also a great thing for the business as it allows you to only offer these specials if the consumer fits certain criteria. For example, certain days or times or even if they just made a certain type of purchase – like clothing. You can sign up with Visa’s first client, Gap to check out how this all works.
Visa’s not the only card in the game, though, as AmEx teamed up with Foursquare to link the Foursquare discounts directly to the card transaction rather than relying on the business to deduct it from the ticket…. Next stop? Swiping your phone rather than your credit card…. Yes, we’re serious…