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How to attract new and repeat customers with Foursquare

Utilize Foursquare to draw in new and repeat customers and reward them for their loyalty.

I had the lovely experience of dining at Olea, a new restaurant on Burlingame Avenue.  And while I was there, I used my Foursquare app on my iPhone to check in, as well as my facebook page check in and shared my experience within 140 characters.  Olea is a rather unique restaurant as they offer a variety of dishes that are Meditterean, Italian, and Middle Eastern.  Their dishes are flavorable and HEALTHY.  They have an excellent wine list and a full service bar.  Olea was packed with people so my husband and I decided to dine at the bar, which gave us the view for people watching as well as observing the delicious plates 

As a customer who utilizes my phone for day to day management of emails, social media,calendar, errands, local searches and more, my contribution to the local businesses shows up in forms of "check-in's, writing reviews, and word of mouth using Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and Yelp.  I'm always on the go, so using Foursquare as my main tool to share my favorite hang out places such as restaurants, retail, or events, streamlines my check-in's and tips into my Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter networks.

Foursquare is an app that local businesses can use to connect with current and new customers, offer 1st time specials, and check-in incentives for new and repeat customers.  As a user, I show my loyalty to my brands and favorite places by "checking in". Often I will take photos of the dish, or favorite shoe as I check in, or capture the ambiance of a restaurant.  This gives people who are following me on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter a real time sharing experience with me and my favorite hang out places.

As a local business owners there are some free platforms and tools that you should leverage to get your business on the local map, so you can get found by people using their phones, iPads, or computers who are searching for your products or services.  Restaurant owners should invest their time and resources to set their business up within local listing directories and leverage Foursquare, Gowalla, Google + (Google plus) and Google Plus for business.

Foursquare,local listings, Google Plus are free.  But invest your time to create a rich profile on these sites and ensure that your information is consistent across all platforms.

1. Create a profile on Foursquare, look to the left and click on Claim My venue (or you wil have the option of creating a venue)

  • Claiming a site means that you are the owner of that site, so you may need to connect your profile to an existing listing.
  • As you proceed to claim this listing, you will update the profile with the correct name, address, city, state, and zip code, and the phone number.
  • You will have the opportunity to add a logo or your photo if you prefer
  • If you are a restaurant, organize your photos and videos in one place on your desktop for easy access
    • Add photos of your dishes, the restaurant capturing it's ambiance durng breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
    • Your photos should tell a story (person making an expresso for a waiting customer; a plate of fresh pancakes with melted butter and strawberries on the side and a smiling customer; if outdoor seating is available, upload photos of people dining outside with their family and pets
  • If you are in retail,organize photos and videos and showcase the inside of your store, blouses, dresses, shoes, handbags, feature certain brands

2.  After you update your information, added photos and/or videos, Foursquare will walk you thru a validation section where Foursquare will call and give you a code to verify your ownership, at this point your site will go live.  Sometimes, there is a problem and you will have to choose "mail a post card", and your post card will arrive within 2 weeks.

3.  Once your profile is verfied, your Foursquare listing goes live, and you will be able to create an incentive (special) for  First Time check in, Every 5th check in, etc. Foursquare will offer you ideas depending on your goals.

You want to give people a call to action.  Most people are on their phones, checking into other places, having a special will create a "special" flag on your profile so it will give them attention to your venue, and they will most likely click on your profile to learn what the incentive for check-in is to determine whether they will stop in or come by later.I personally love to check in and get the free appetizor or a discount on my meal just because I dined between 4:00pm - 6:00pm.  I like the first time check-in idea, because it gives me an introduction to the restaurant or retail store.  Who doesn't like a freebie or a discount?

As a mayor of Radioshack, I'm rewarded with a 20% discount, while other check-in's get 10% off.  As a repeat customer who checks in for the 5th time, I'm rewarded with a dessert or a glass of wine.

What would you do to bring back your customer? Isn't it right to reward their loyalty?

Next week I will share what you need to do to get your business listed or "claimed" within Google, Yahoo, Bing, Best of the Web so that you are found above the others. I will share how to handle negative reviews, as well as integrating QR codes and Text messages.

Please comment and share your ideas, concerns, or your own local marketing tips!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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