IBJOpinion

SURF THIS: Foursquare attempts to corner walk-in business market

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Jim Cota

It used to be that engineers developed a product based on some perceived need, marketers sold it, and customers bought it.

In some forward-thinking companies, the marketing department might help drive product development based on user feedback, but the experience was almost wholly internal. Those days are gone.

Now products are often developed by someone either seeing an opportunity or, perhaps just as often, having an idea they think might be interesting. A product is developed and released and people use it.

Then an interesting thing happens ... the product-development cycle responds to the way people are using the product. Engineering might have a few tweaks they’d like to make, but much of the innovation comes from how people are using (or want to be using) the product.

Which brings me to Foursquare (foursquare.com). At heart, it’s simply an application that runs on your smart phone allowing you to “check in” at various locations throughout your day. Let’s say you stop at Starbucks in the morning. You open the application on your phone, select the Starbucks, and hit a “check in” button. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even write a short message: “Getting my morning pick-me-up.”

Each time you check in, you earn points based on a system of Foursquare’s devising, and you can unlock badges for certain aspects of your movements. Check in at several venues and earn an “Explorer” badge. Visit one location more than anyone else and become “Mayor.”

Now, at least a few of you are asking yourselves why you would want to do that. Who really cares where you are and where you go throughout the day?

The answer is, your friends might (with emphasis on the might), but the businesses you frequent most certainly do (or should.)

Foursquare began as a way for friends to check in wherever they are and notify one another about what they’re up to, much the same way Twitter was originally intended for friends to tell one another what they’re doing. But just as Twitter dramatically evolved based on how people actually used it, Foursquare stands at a similar threshold.

Businesses are now realizing that some of their most loyal customers are checking in at their stores, bars, restaurants, etc. And Foursquare sees an opportunity here, adapting into a way for businesses to communicate with these people. If you check in at a business enough to become the mayor, you might earn yourself a special perk. If you simply check in and tell other people about it, you might be rewarded with a discount.

Because the application is location-aware (meaning it knows where you are), business owners also can add tips to help people find things nearby. If you’re standing outside a coffee shop, you might see that a competitor up the street is offering free pastries with a cup of coffee this morning and adjust your habits accordingly. As the owner of a business, you can add these tips to your location to help bring people in the door.

Much of the new development of Foursquare seems to be related to finding ways to better serve both the customers and the business owners using it, and I suspect we’ll see more robust tools to help you track and analyze what’s happening. But if you own a business that relies on walk-in traffic, this is a creative way to potentially increase that traffic.

And as the user base grows (100,000 new people joined in the last 10 days!), you might find it too useful to resist.•

__________

Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT