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Paid versus Nonpaid Offers in Location-based Marketing

There are several ways that you can reward your customers for checking-in at your business on a location-based service (LBS). Some involve items of monetary value, but sometimes, your most valuable offers can come in the form of customer recognition and experience.

Paid offers

Paid offers have some monetary value, whether they are discounts, free t-shirts, free coffee, or gift cards. In many cases, these rewards are great at driving check-ins. Here are some of the major categories of paid offers you can use in your offers:

  • Free merchandise: You can offer cups of coffee, dessert, photos, picture frames, t-shirts, posters, or tchotchkes.

  • Discounts (fixed): Provide a straight discount for anyone who checks in. Vary the discount by which check-in it is (first, second, and so on) or by the level of engagement.

  • Discounts (sweepstakes-style): If you really want to make things exciting, give away a different level of discount as a variable any time someone checks in.

  • Contests: Anyone who checks in is entered into a contest for valuable prizes.

Nonpaid offers

Sometimes, the best offers you can make are those of the nonpaid variety. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore paid offers, but sometimes simple acknowledgment, a virtual good, or an experience will do the trick. The following lists nonpaid offers that you can incorporate into your LBS marketing campaign:

  • Acknowledgement: When customers check in, comment on their check-in or thank them for coming. Remember, don’t be overly eager. Sometimes letting some time elapse (at least a few hours) is a good idea.

  • Customer recognition: Put a plaque on the wall that lets others know who your mayor, leader, or frequent tip contributor is. Consider posting this information on your website and your Facebook Wall as well.

  • Virtual goods or badges: If your customers engage in the gaming aspect of location-based marketing, offer them virtual goods or badges that they can then show off to others.

  • Experiences: For your most valuable customers, offer them a tour of your establishment. Or invite a number of your most regular check-ins/contributors to a VIP wine tasting. You might even ask them to become part of a formal or informal advisory board.

To get people excited about sharing their check-ins with their networks, offer the same (or a similar type of discount or offer) to anyone within a customer’s network on Twitter or Facebook. To protect yourself, you can bind the offer or discount by location or time frame.

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