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Foursquare and Vermont Businesses

Just wanted to include a little Vermont Beauty in this Post!

I recently had the chance to chat with Lynn Monty of the Free Press about my thoughts on Foursquare for Vermonters – both for businesses and for regular old Vermonters. Some of my remarks made it into Lynn’s great article on Foursquare and Local Biz in the Burlington Free Press, but I also figured that I would share the full text with you – as some of the stuff got left on the cutting room floor!

Foursquare is a location-based service which uses “game theory” to prompt people to actually use it. The basic idea is that you “check in” at businesses, stores, and other locations, and, in return for those “check-ins,” you get something – points, badges, discounts, etc (which makes it a little bit like a game). Businesses can also create special offers on Foursquare for participants – enticing people to come eat at their restaurant or check out their store, for example, sometimes in exchange for a discount or special deal.

How can Vermont businesses take advantage of Foursquare? Well there are some solid opportunities to use Foursquare to get and keep new customers, particularly tourists or other people that are visiting Vermont. People can use the Foursquare app to find deals in the area (You can open Foursquare and see all the stores near your location, and the stores which have deals for Foursquare users are highlighted in the app). A common discount may be 10-20% off an order for people that check in on Foursquare and show the person at the register that they checked in. You can also use it to see tips on other people’s experience at the business – sometimes these tips will be things that are noteworthy, experiences that people have had, kind of mini-reviews of how things went at the business. If you are highly reliant on drop-in foot traffic, particularly from tourists, it’s worth investigating how you might use Foursquare to get new people into your place.

Another clear opportunity is to use Foursquare to provide some customer appreciation – For example, you can give a special deal to the “Mayor” for your location (The “Mayor” is the person who has checked into your business the most frequently), you can give a deal to people checking in for the first time, and/or you could do a deal for people after they have checked in a given number of times (Foursquare only lets you check in once a day, so people couldn’t just keep checking in over and over to get the discount). So if you have always wanted to do some sort of customer appreciation but have never given it a shot, Foursquare can be an easy and cheap way for you to do that, it just takes a little time to set up. The decision about whether or not it’s a good tool for you to use in your business is always going to be unique to your situation – maybe it’s not worth it to you to get a new customer by providing a discount, but perhaps that discount is the prompt the customer needed to come into your store, and they will be so happy with the experience that they return again and again.

As a user of Foursquare, I love being able to see if there are any deals around my location while I travel, and also to read up on what people have to say about local stores and restaurants (I can figure out what the best/most popular thing to order may be, where to get the best cup of coffee, etc.). One of my favorite uses for it that I don’t see many people talking about is as a sort of personal travel log/journal. When I visit someplace new, if I remember to take my phone out and check in to the places I visit, I can look back later and see where I went. And then, when I return to that city/place, I can go back to the places that I loved.

What did I miss?