Is It Time to Use Foursquare for Local Business?

Lots of people talk about how to use foursquare from the consumer’s perspective, but what advantage does foursquare for local businesses provide? First of all, foursquare is a social network with over 10M users. Like most social networks, the strength of this platform is that people share information with their friends and thus a simple check-in can get broadcast across Facebook, Twitter, and to the person’s foursquare friends. While not all these people will be local to your business, it’s a good bet some are, so it’s a form of advertising. Read on to learn how to set up foursquare and take advantage of it for your business.

If you aren’t familiar at all with foursquare, here’s a very quick overview. Essentially people download the free foursquare app to their smart phone and when they arrive at a destination, they check-in. They accumulate points for checking in, bringing friends, repeat business, etc and cash in on specials. They also earn badges which are created by foursquare and kept a bit of mystery as to exactly how you get them.

Getting started with foursquare for local business can be done in 4 simple steps done on the foursquare website:

  1. Set up a foursquare account if you don’t already have one
  2. Find your venue using their search form
  3. Claim the location of your venue
  4. Verify that you have the authority to manage the venue (by phone or email)

Once you are set up, foursquare provides you with free tools to promote and manage your presence. One of the best ways to encourage people to check in and bring their friends is with specials. Specials are simply offers that you give to new, frequent, or loyal customers when they check in at your establishment (called “unlocking” a special).

Here are the categories specials fall into and some examples:

  • Discount: Get 20% off on the purchase of one item, get $10 off when you spend $50
  • Free offer: Get a free silk tie with the purchase of a suit, get a free water bottle when you sign up for 3 months at Joe’s Gym
  • Special treatment: Check-in on foursquare to get a behind the scenes tour of (kitchen, wine cellar, special exhibit)
  • Reward: Free cupcake on 5th visit, free movie rental after 5th visit

Specials provide a range of rewards for new business, repeat business, and for bringing their friends. When you are starting out, consider offering different types of specials across the range to see what works best for your business. People will compete to be the major to get special perks.

Types of specials on foursquare for local business and some examples:

  • Newbie: First time someone visits, offer a discount, free item, etc.
  • Friends: Bring a friend (or 2 or 3, you choose) and get xxx
  • Flash: Similar to a door buster – first 20 people to check-in get xxx, everyone who checks in within 30 minutes gets xxx
  • Swarm: Determine a number of friends it takes to qualify and offer a deal – Bring 20 friends to Sally’s Kitchen and get one free cocktail or beverage with meal purchase
  • Check-in: Just for showing up – get a 10% discount off the purchase of a blouse or shirt
  • Loyalty: Offer something free on the 5th (or any number) visit
  • Mayor: This is the person with the most check-ins at your place in the last 60 days. Only one check-in per day is allowed. This is one of your most loyal customers, so be creative – a special table, no standing in line, private tasting, whatever you think will make that person feel special. You want people to compete to be the mayor because every check-in adds to the popularity of your business.

Part of the social appeal is that people can see what their friends are up to when they launch the foursquare app on their mobile phone. What badges they have, how many points they have, and if they are the mayor of anything. Also by using the Explore capability on the app, users can see what is close to them and what tips have been provided about the place. Tips are things that people who have checked-in at your business have to say about it, for example: “Great place for lunch” or “Always find something new here”.

There are many advantages of using foursquare. It’s free to sign up, you create specials for free, your business shows up in Facebook and Twitter timelines, and more. The cost? The only cost is your time to create the specials and the discounts or free items that you provide. Not a bad tradeoff. Is it time you join the over 250,000 merchants and start using foursquare for local business as part of your mobile marketing?

Mind Freedom Exercise – The Whine Cellar

Do you catch yourself whining and complaining needlessly about what ails you and what you don’t like? Do you notice your lover doing the same? Whining and complaining rarely elicit compassion from those around us but rather tend to annoy everyone. Certainly it is necessary to deal with real problems, remove blockages, overcome difficulties, and find solutions, but whining does not help the process. The Whine Cellar technique is a simple, elegant, tactful, and respectful way to get rid of whining every time it rears its annoying head.

Set the stage for using this technique by agreeing to give each other permission to identify when the other is whining and to catch your own whining as much as possible and to stop.

Time for Exercise: one minute

Properties Required: none

Steps:

  1. When you realize you have been whining, own up to it by naming what you were doing. For example, say to your partner: “I just listened to myself and realized that I have been whining.”
  2. Banish your whining to the Whine Cellar, never to be heard or seen again. Say to your lover: “I am just going to drop this whole business into the Whine Cellar.”
  3. If you catch your partner whining, say as tactfully as you can, “It sounds like whining and complaining to me. Can we just drop this into the Whine Cellar?”

Comments:

Sometimes the thing you or your lover are complaining about is a very real issue that needs to be addressed. If that is the case, after you have dispensed with whining about it, get down to finding a real solution to a real problem. The Whine Cellar is not intended to be an escape from the responsibility you have to become fit for your relationship and to deal honestly with real problems. There is an important difference between problem-solving and whining about problems. Both of you will know the difference when you hear it.

Does Workplace Safety Also Include a Bomb Shelter or Tornado Proof Room for Your Business?

Do you remember in 2001 when someone claimed that the end of the world was going to happen on some given Saturday? Most people laughed it off, but many folks actually believed it, and even those who didn’t believe it, seemed to prepare themselves just in case. They may have called a loved one, or done something they wanted to get done just in case it was be in the world. It’s funny how people are when you think about it, and yet that same month there were giant Tornadoes in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and that deadly Tornado in Joplin Missouri.

Okay so this brings up another question; is your business prepared for a major event like that? Is your business prepared to protect your customers, employees, and even your own life in the event that a Tornado is coming? Many people have storm cellars in areas that are known for the occasional tornadic cells in their homes, but very few businesses have storm cellars. Many food businesses have walk-in refrigerators, and your employees could get inside of those. In fact there was a story about some folks that were able to seek refuge in one during the Joplin Missouri Tornado and six people got into a cooler.

There was an interesting article in Homeland Security Newswire published on May 27, 2011 under the heading of “Disasters” and titled; “Deadly Storms Spark Rush for Storm Shelters” which made a very good point in explaining why folks are out buying bomb-shelter type emergency habitats. The article first reminds the reader of the intense devastating tornadoes in Spring of 2011. The piece stated:

“One company is installing more than forty shelters a day around the country; storm shelters can cost anywhere from $3,000 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the quality of construction; the FEMA has been encouraging states to use federal disaster aid money to encourage homeowners to purchase storm shelters by offering subsidies.”

It’s hard to say if it is true your responsibility to have a Tornado proof room in your business. There is no law making you must put one in. Maybe some of the cities which have been totally destroyed will in the future put that into the building codes, but it would seem to me that it is common sense for those rebuilding. And speaking of common sense, why don’t you ask yourself;

“Should my workplace safety policy include protecting my customers, workers, and even myself from a tornado?”

The reason you need to ask yourself this now, is there won’t be time once a Tornado is already on its way. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.