As customers and clients become more tech-savvy and adopt new online networking habits, small business owners have the opportunity to reach out to prospects in fresh new ways. Geolocation services such as Foursquare and Google Places make it easier for potential customers to find your physical location when conducting a search and when networking with their social contacts online. These services have made “checking in” to a location a new trend, and small business owners who rely on foot traffic for a large part of their business can enjoy a number of benefits when they claim their site on these networks.
Dozens of restaurants, cafes, locally-owned stores and even tanning salons in my city have already added their location to Google Places and Foursquare. Some have taken extra steps to attract more customers by offering special discounts and offers through these networks, and giving rewards to people who “check in” regularly. If you’re a small business owner and your target market is beginning to use sites like Foursquare, now is a great time to jump onto the geolocation bandwagon.
Getting Started with Geolocation Services
Whether you own a retail store, restaurant, bar or day spa, there are several ways to establish a presence on geolocation sites and start attracting more customers.
The first step is to claim your site with the major geolocation service providers. Leah Betancourt of Mashable.com emphasizes that your business must already be discoverable on geolocation apps. This goes one step beyond making sure your address and phone number are current on the major search engine listings. You need to manually add your business to sites like Foursquare and verify your listing on Google Places to maximize your reach.
Set some goals so that you can build and maintain solid relationships with your customers. If other businesses in your community are also just starting to use geolocation services, your primary goal will be to establish and build your social network. If you’re entering a market with a lot of active users, you will need to focus on attracting quality prospects with unique offers and incentives.
Using Geolocation Services for Your Small Business
When you’re ready to develop and grow your presence on geolocation sites, you can:
– Extend special offers and discounts to people who check in to your location
– Provide rewards for a set number of check-ins
– Participate in the conversations your customers are having as often as possible
– Participate in in-person community events
– Make sure your geolocation presence is visible on your business’s home page
– Invest in marketing materials that let customers know where you are located online
Some of today’s most popular and widely-used geolocation services offer a wealth of opportunities for small business owners. Use these tips to get started with geolocation service and attract more prospects to your business day in, day out.