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Getting Creative with Foursquare for Small Business

Marketing podcast with Carmine Gallo (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Foursquare boasts over 10 million users and some 400,000 businesses, and even though it’s not this week’s hot topic anymore, it’s ripe to add to your marketing mix.

foursquareMy guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Carmine Gallo, journalist, communications coach, speaker and author of The Power of foursquare: 7 Innovative Ways to Get Your Customers to Check In Wherever They Are

We discussed the various ways that small businesses can move into the location based marketing game and take advantage of the fact that most of their customers are using mobile devices to locate the places where they shop.

I’m going to skip the introduction and focus mostly on how to use it as a customer magnet. If you don’t really know much about Foursquare yet go here first: Foursquare 101.

Since a lot of folks are using Foursquare, it’s time to break out some creativity and move past the “me too” users that are simply copying what they see other people doing.

It’s okay to play the checkin smorgasbord game. You should consider a special deal for different kinds of checkins, such as a generic checkin and get something special, a special for the first time someone checks in and, of course, treat your mayor to something really special.

If you really want to make Foursquare pay, consider adding one or more of the advanced and slightly more creative offers listed below.

1. Target the hot spots

If there are businesses near you that get lots of checkins—hotels, conference centers, sporting arenas—consider adding tips to these venues that point people to your business or special. Foursquare has a feature that will point to nearby specials, but why not write a great tip (be outrageous to get some attention) and attract even more of those large numbers of people checking in?

2. Make referrals

You can take this last point up a notch by collaborating with strategic partners to make referrals all over town at a multitude of locations. This can take a little time, but if you place checkin tips referring your team of business partners to dozens of sites—and your partners do the same—you’ll gain lots of exposure. Make sure you’re not placing tips on competitors’ sites, as that will likely backfire.

3. Flash specials

Foursquare recently add a few new kinds of specials that offer much potential. A flash special is something you can offer to a certain number of people that act fast—this is a great way to create buzz and get people promoting for you. Let’s say someone checks in and learns that the first 50 people that check in that day get a cool offer…this kind of special really gets people reacting and sharing.

4. Friend specials

Another new special type is the friend special that allows someone to check in and get a great deal only if, say, they get three friends to check in as well. This one is nice because you can limit it and offer something really great for someone that goes to the effort of getting his or her friends into your store. The game and sharing aspect of this one offers lots of fun potential.

5. Create a swarm

In Foursquare terms a swarm is when a lot people check in at one place. This is a great one for events and could even make a neat little fundraiser kind of thing for an organization. Imagine hosting a PTA or club and offering them a special donation for everyone that visits your business and checks in on Foursquare creating a custom swarm of whatever you determine.

One of the things that Foursquare offers small businesses is the technology to track customer behavior. Use your creativity and you may find even more ways to tap this tool to grow your business and community.

You can find out more about various forms of special at the Foursquare for Business support forums.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

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