Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting Business in the Real World #1

“Does a Plumber Need a Web Site?” features “case studies” of hypothetical businesses, but is anyone in the real world pursuing any of the initiatives we write about in the book? Yes.

In the book, one of our case studies is the fictional Jim’s Gym. But there is a fitness center in Saratoga Springs, NY, that is heavily promoting itself via social media. High Rock Sports & Fitness opened in January 2011 (full disclosure: Richard R. has been a member since April; he found it, by the way, via his Yelp! iPhone app) and has been actively involved in social media, in addition to more traditional advertising. The gym heavily uses Facebook to network members and share information. New members are welcomed to the community via Facebook updates, and other related information is shared as well.

The center has also begin availing itself of Foursquare, a location app that lets users find nearby businesses, check in, make recommendations, add comments, etc. (Facebook has similar functionality, as does Yelp!) There is a Merchant Platform whereby businesses can offer specials and other deals via Foursquare. HRSF, for example, offers a free recovery shake after every 10 check-ins.

Foursquare itself sends e-mail notifications when certain check-in milestones have been reached.
Probably not the best recommendation, but there it is.

Location services are evolving quickly and as more and more people are using mobile smartphones to find products, services, and other businesses, they are availing themselves of all these apps. They may not be taking full advantage of all the features available, but basic familiarity is increasing. As a recent eMarketer article pointed out,
While many mobile users have taken advantage of their device’s ability to connect location with useful information, such as maps, directions or recommendations, comparatively few ever caught on to the check-in trend. Pew Internet & American Life Project found in May that while 58% of smartphone users had used some kind of location-based service on their phone, just 12% had checked in somewhere.
As more businesses start offering deals via check-ins, I would expect the number of “checker-ins” to increase. These services will continue to evolve. Stay tuned.

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