Monday, July 19, 2010

Foursquare:The Newest & Hottest Kid on the Social Networking Block

You already know the benefits of the now-mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube--all phenomenal tools to engage clients and build a brand. But, if you're like many local businesses, you see the boost in engagement from those sites, but wonder: how do I translate it into actual foot traffic? Enter the newest (and hottest) kid on the social networking block: Foursquare. Why is this new tool growing so quickly? Mostly because it doesn't only drive traffic to your website, but actually drives customers to your doorstep.

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site that allows people to connect with friends and update their location via text message or by Smartphone. Teaming up with Twitter and Facebook (and now quite possibly Google, Microsoft and Yahoo- Creator Dennis Crowley is in talks with these search engine giants), this allows friends of foursquare users to be notified of their friend’s newest location (and in hopes that more friends will come and join). Foursquare not only promotes human interaction but also exploration of their surroundings. After checking in a certain number of times at a location, users earn badges and points for their location frequency or by discovering something new in their city. Users can find locations in the directory or from friends who are also on foursquare.

What separates Foursquare from Facebook, Twitter or Wikitravel, is that users are participating in a marketing game, by earning points and badges for their travels. This is where Foursquare gets interesting… Foursquare not only encourages people to wander through their neighborhoods, but with the help from local businesses they reward people for stopping in at their location. Business owners can use Foursquare to engage their clientele by offering specials, discounts and prizes for those who continue to update their location on Foursquare while at their venue. People who check-in to a particular location quite a bit are dubbed ‘mayors’ and are eligible to receive a discount, prize or special offer. Cool, right? An example: Cuban Revolution, a hip avant grade restaurant with two locations in Providence, R.I., gives a free sandwich and soda to all ‘mayors of Cuban Revolution’. The owners of business owners are not only being current and participating in a trend of pop culture, but they are also using Foursquare to track how their venue is performing over time due to venue analytics that are provided to business owners.
The best part: users who are checking into your location are doing some of the marketing and promotion for you to individuals who may never have even thought of visiting your store or restaurant. Talk about social networking.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Importance of Creative Thinking

In an increasingly competitive economy, it is vital for businesses to think creatively to grow and expand the reach of their brands. This is especially important in marketing efforts. Press releases, social media connections, standard promotions and advertisements are vital; but not enough. What to do? First: start thinking outside of the box.

Case in point, take the perfume company Fresh, who just released a set of fragrances and candles based on the best-selling novel Eat, Pray, Love, now a motion picture starring Julia Roberts which is set to be released next month. Fresh took the three sections of the book and made three scents inspired by three travel destinations in the book. The fragrances are set to release July 15th.

Another interesting method of expanding a brand? Twilight Makeup. Yes, a makeup brand inspired entirely on the blockbuster film series. The premise behind the company’s two Twilight makeup lines: vampires and true love. Luna Twilight is designed to artistically capture the love between Edward and Bella. The mission behind this line is for ‘ everyone from the Twilight enthusiast to women looking to highlight their inner radiance.’ Their Volutri line, is a much more dramatic, darker line highlighting the vampire elements of the movies. The makeup has been featured in eight different magazines, such as Allure, Elle and Lucky between 2009 and 2010.

Both of these companies are perfect examples of expanding a brand beyond their targeted consumers—in both cases by harnessing the power of pup culture. Fresh, whose target consumer is women, really hit the jackpot by using this book as an inspiration for their new line because as a New York Times best-selling novel, the fan-base is enormous--and expanding, with the movie due in a few weeks. Twilight beauty is not just targeting the Twihearts, but also, consumers looking to buy makeup for all ages as seen with its placement in eight nationally read magazines.

The point: remember that inspiration can come from anything and, with creative marketing and good pitch, anything is possible.