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Archive for the ‘smart business’ Category

Pop quiz: You own or manage a restaurant. A hotel. A coffee shop. A specialty goods store. A hot dog stand. A bank. A movie theater. A shoe store. A gym. A bodega. A hair salon. A sushi bar. A pub. A public park. A swimming pool. A museum. An art gallery. A city. Do you know who the mayor of your business is?

If you don’t, find out today. Right now. Here’s why: It could help your business grow pretty quickly if you play your cards right. More on that in a minute. First, here’s how to find out who has claimed the title of mayor on Foursquare: (Huh? fourwhat? Hang on. We’ll get to that too.)

The How:

Step 1: Go to www.foursquare.com

Step 2: In the search box (top right) enter your business name.

Step 3: When your business information pops up, look to the right of the screen. You will see an icon labeled “mayor”. That’s who the mayor is.

The Now What:

Find out who they are, and you give them the royal treatment next time they come into your store. Let them know you’re paying attention to a) Foursquare, b) whom is taking the time to check in every time they come into your place of business, and c) who is sharing that information (that recommendation) with their friends on Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook.

Think about giving them a discount or a gift while you’re at it. Set up a “mayor parking” spot outside. Treat them like a VIP inside the store. Address them as “Mister Mayor” or “Your Grace,” when they walk in. It’s up to you. Have fun with it. Give them more reasons to like you. It never hurts to reward kindness with kindness, and remember that it is supposed to be fun and rewarding.

The Why:

If you aren’t familiar with Foursquare yet, here it is in a paragraph: It’s a game played on mobile devices. People “check in” to businesses and other locations, and try to accumulate points. In some instances, they win much coveted “badges” (see some examples below).

In other instances, if they are the most frequent visitor of a location (like your store), they are crowned “mayor” of that location. The game is free, works on a variety of mobile platforms, and players have the option to share their check-ins with their network of family and friends on Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook. It’s a silly game, sure, but it is powerful as well. Here’s why:

1. Frequency – Because checking-in is a game, it is fun. That, in and of itself, is reward enough. Mayorships and badges are also rewards for activity on Foursquare. What it means is this: Foursquare gives people an incentive to visit your store more often, just so they can check in. Especially if you are running a promotion aimed at your store’s mayor. As a business, you can thus easily use Foursquare to increase the frequency of visits to your store(s). That equates to more foot traffic, more mindshare, and potentially more sales. (While they’re in your store, they’ll probably buy something.)

2. Reach – In case you missed it earlier, when someone “checks in” to your location, they broadcast that check-in to their various digital networks. Right now, that is mostly Foursquare itself, Twitter and Facebook. This will probably grow over time. But consider that the average american has what… over 200+ “friends” on Facebook? Think about the power of having a single customer broadcast that they are in your restaurant, in your hair salon, in your pub to 200+ of their friends every time they come in. Now multiply that by ten customers. Now multiply that by 100 customers.

Though not technically “active” word of mouth, Foursquare check-ins are still de-facto endorsement of your business. In other words, it isn’t just a question of exposure. A check-in is an affirmation of endorsement. It might as well say “I am here, and I am proud to tell you all that I am doing business here. Come do the same.” That’s the context of a check-in.

Every time one of your customers checks-in and broadcasts that they are doing business with you, they potentially trigger a visit in an average of 200 other potential customers. (Either existing customers or potential customers.)

3. Yield – Of the three, this one is probably the toughest to achieve, but as a measure of loyalty, yield (average purchase amount) can be impacted by foursquare activity. As frequency of visits increases and loyalty follows suit, it is likely that a portion of your customers will escalate their purchase amounts as well. Loyalty can lead to a higher percentage of wallet share, not just through buy rates (frequency) but also higher price-point purchases.

A word on escalation: Take the example of a bike shop. A casual customer may come in once a month and buy some energy bars, a bike jersey and some socks. As this customer is developed into a regular, they start purchasing all of their energy bars from you instead of buying them from several different places. They may also start jonesing for that new pair of cycling shoes and that new helmet they will soon rationalize they need to replace their “old” ones with. If you treat them well and understand their needs, this escalation may lead to a higher dollar purchase like a race wheel upgrade, a carbon-fiber set of handlebars upgrade, a full bike tune-up, or even a brand new bike to start off the new season in style.

Result: In six months to a year, you could potentially turn a casual customer who only bought low-hanging-fruit items in your store to a loyal customer with a habit of dropping large amounts of cash on premium upgrades with you, instead of blowing them on something else.

Note: You cannot escalate yield if you do not have a relationship with your customer. There is no shortcut here. You have to get to know them. You have to become part of their world. This is not something you can do from a corporate office, or from the back of the store. Someone has to interact with them on a human level – both online and offline.

More thoughts on how to leverage Foursquare:

How your business can use Foursquare is up to you. Use your imagination. Try different things. Be clever. Have fun with it. Perhaps you can work with Foursquare to create badges for your business, the way that Bravo, Starbucks, SxSW, Marc Jacobs and several cities (San Francisco, New York, Brooklyn and Chicago) already have. Here is Starbucks’ very own Barista badge. To obtain it, players only need check in at 5 different Starbucks locations:

Imagine the same thing for your business, or banding with retailers in your area to create a badge players could unlock by visiting 5 of your combined locations. You could work with an organization or with a city even, to help promote your business through Foursquare. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Perhaps you can also create promotions around Foursquare activity, like flashmobs (using your business and a particular sales event to help customers achieve both all-too elusive swarm badges (50 people checking in together and 250 people checking in together.)

Another fun idea: Procure some Foursquare Merit Badges and ceremoniously award them to customers who acquired virtual badges online (see below).

Whatever you choose to do, start at the beginning: Find out who the mayor of your business is, acknowledge that status, and reward it with warmth and gratitude, if not with product.  Next: Create an account and get rolling. It’s your business. Take charge and participate. Welcome to a whole new world of marketing fun. If you’re lucky, you will beat your competitors to it. (Never underestimate first-mover advantage, especially in the age of twitter & facebook real-time word-of-mouth.)

Footnote: I spoke to two retailers yesterday who had never heard of foursquare. One didn’t know that dozens of customers were already checking into their store regularly, and I added the other’s venue because there wasn’t one yet. Guess what: One knows who the mayor of their business is today, and he has a plan now. The other will know as soon as someone becomes the mayor, and is already working on some promotions. We will revisit these two businesses in a few months to see how they fare.

Also check out Gowalla.com while you’re at it. Very much the same thing, and it too is growing.

Additional reading:

Via Mark Van Baale (@markvanbaale on twitter) – “Foursquare sees another big Domino fall

And this great piece via Mashable on Foursquare’s business analytics dashboard.

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Conferences are great. You learn stuff, you meet people, you go back to work all jazzed up and energized… But let’s be honest: There are some things you just can’t get from a conference, like real training and “how to” knowledge.

From my perspective no matter how much clarity I bring to topics like R.O.I. and social media measurement, building and managing social media programs, brand management in the era of the Social web, etc. at conferences, there is only so much I can teach you in an hour, or thirty minutes (and even 10 minutes, in some cases).

Based on feedback from a pretty big number of conference attendees over the last year, it became clear that something was missing from the picture: Think of it as a gap between the short conference format presentations and high-commitment 3-8-month long consulting engagements.

That’s when my mind flashed back to the courses I used to take from the American Management Association (AMA): Full day trainings on just about anything you might need to increase your value to your organization, from Best Practices in to “how to” courses. The format was simple: One day out of the office, learn everything you need to learn from an expert in the field, come back with copious notes, and get back to work with a valuable new skill.

Bonus: The playbook you bring back with you in the form of notes and course content. That’s yours to keep. Forever.

I loved those things. They made me smarter about the world, better at my job, and payed off in major ways – both for me and my employers… which is probably why they didn’t mind paying for them several times per year.

The single-day AMA trainings I was sent to typically used to cost my employers about $2,000 between registration, airfare, hotel and food (about the cost of going to a conference these days), which I always thought was a little steep. (Multi-day trainings went up from there.) Different value than attending a conference, sure, but in the back of my mind, I always knew the model could be streamlined and the costs made more accessible.

Long story short: It’s obvious that business managers increasingly need real social media operational training, not just neat case studies and presentations about social media tools, so I am launching a series of AMA-style trainings to address that need.  If you’re a business manager or social media practitioner and you need to learn how to better develop, integrate, manage and measure social media programs, this is for you. Though the official launch will take place in early 2010, the very first of these trainings will take place in London on December 4th:

Event Number One: Red Chair London

The course I will teach in London is designed for C-level business executives, Marketing and PR directors, Agency honchos and Social Media managers wishing to deepen their operational understanding of Social Media.

The course is designed for decision-makers and managers looking for real training on how to actually plug social media into their organizations and make it work. Not just from a strategic angle, but also from operational, tactical, and analytical standpoint. (Yes, this is what you guys have been asking for. I am finally bringing it to you.)

The day will be divided into four sessions:

  1. 9:00am – 10:30am           Social Media Program Development (Strategy)
  2. 10:45am – noon                 Social Media Program Integration (Operations and Planning)
  3. 12:45 pm – 2:45pm          Social Media Program Management (Execution)
  4. 3:00pm – 4:30pm             Social Media Program Measurement (Data analysis, benchmarking, ROI, etc.)

We will break for morning tea/coffee, lunch, and again for afternoon tea/coffee. (All included with your registration.)

Red Chair London is being kept purposely small (20 seats)  to foster a roundtable-style atmosphere for participants in which all questions will be answered, no matter how technical or complicated. I can handle it.

Registration is only £650 per person (about $999 US), and we have created some pretty awesome group discounts to make it easier for companies to send more than one manager (or client) to the event. (My advice: Pool your resources and buy group tickets instead of just individual ones.)

The best part is that attendees don’t have to fly anywhere or book a hotel. If you work in and around London, you can swing by your office early that morning, spend the rest of the day with us, and go home when we adjourn.  No flying, no hotels, no extra expenses. Simple, painless, convenient.

Although seats should go fast (we’re limited to only 20 seats), I am all about treating my readers well, so here’s a treat for you. (This isn’t on the eventbrite registration page.) The first 6 people to register using the keyword “paddington” will enjoy a special BrandBuilder discount off their ticket price.

Red Chair London will be held at the posh One Alfred Place business Club, which is the perfect venue: centrally located, beautiful meeting rooms, awesome food, providing just the right mix of business focus and comfort. If you aren’t familiar with One Alfred yet, you’re in for a treat.

All that’s left for you to do now is either register or pass the information along to your peers, bosses, colleagues, friends and clients. (Or your marketing, PR and ad agency partners if they don’t seem to know how to take your social media presence to the next level.)

Seriously, if you know someone who should attend, be their hero and send them this post’s hyperlink. Red Chair may not come back to London for quite a while. We have a lot of cities to cover in the next 12 months. Get a jump on the competition.

While we’re still putting the finishing touches on the Red Chair website, you can go register for the London training here.

Event Number 2: Like Minds Immersive

If you can’t make it  to Red Chair London or prefer a lighter version of that type of training, check out December 3rds’ Like Minds Immersive instead. (Hey, not everyone wants or needs to get a Masters in Social Media Operational Management just yet. Baby steps, right?)

Some differences:

  1. It’s in Exeter, not London.
  2. It’s on Thursday December 3rd (the day before Red Chair London)
  3. It only lasts 3 hours
  4. It’s a little easier on the finances (Only £200)
  5. The content is designed to be more accessible to junior managers and folks not yet fluent in Social Media management than Red Chair London.

Who should attend Like Minds Immersive?

  • Devon area business people who can’t make it to London on the 4th.
  • Anyone looking to advance their strategic and operational Social Media management skills but isn’t ready for a full day of advanced training yet.
  • Managers and business owners looking for structured, step-by-step how-to social media training they will be able to apply to their business right away.

You can register for Like Minds Immersive here.

Now spread the world, ye of internet fame, and help me finally bring real Social Media wisdom, best practices and savoir-faire to the world.

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