The concept of geo-location is nothing new. Apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places, and Gowalla have been around for a few years. These location-targeting apps work in two ways. First, they report a specific user’s location to other users, and second, they relate real-world locations (in this case your business) to their location.
In case you’re wondering whether or not your small business should be included in the mix, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are going to take a closer look at the pros and cons of using location-based applications for your small business.
What we like
One of the biggest benefits a small business can receive from using these location-based services is word-of-mouth marketing. When someone “checks-in” to your establishment, it’s likely they are sending a message out to their social circle saying, “Hey everyone, I’m at insert your company’s name”. By allowing your customers to advocate your business to their social circle, you are instantly building brand awareness.
Aside from building a larger following around your business, these apps allow for business owners to form closer relationships with their customers. Many businesses, large and small, offer special promotions and discounts to customers that use a geo-location app to check-in at their site.
Plus, if your business is listed in these geo-location apps, potential customers will see this listing when they are nearby – making it easy for prospects to pop in and check your business out.
What we don’t like
Just like any new technology or social platform for businesses, there are negative elements to consider as well. The biggest downfall for location-based services is that it prevents web-based companies from participating. For a geo-location service to work well, your business must be a brick and mortar store. You can say you’re “on-line”, but where is that, exactly?
Not having a physical location for your customers to check-in is one pitfall, but there are also those who abuse the system. When you offer a discount or promotion for check-ins, some customers may circumvent the rules by checking in frequently to reap the rewards or accumulate points, when it reality, they never stepped foot in the building (Gowalla prevents this by requiring users to be at the check-in site).
So if you’re a new start-up or a seasoned small business with a physical store location, we highly recommend adding geo-location services to your marketing toolbox. These tools will help you get form a stronger relationship with your customers and get a better idea who your customers are. Are you currently using location-based apps for your small business? Tell us what pros and cons you’ve discovered.