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I’ve been mulling this around for a few days since posting the last Foursquare article and thought that there was more that could be added that you would find valuable.

I think Foursquare is a hugely untapped and powerful little tool for small business marketing. Especially if you own a business that requires customers to physically visit your location to make a purchase.  Unfortunately most businesses don’t understand just exactly how they can use Foursquare and are missing out on a fantastic and inexpensive marketing powerhouse!

So here are five very practical tips on how to use Foursquare to market your business.

1.            Use Foursquare like a customer loyalty card: The cool thing about Foursquare is it shows the user how many times they have been at each location, so you could offer customers a freebie after so many check ins.  Make sure you set clear rules about how to redeem the offer including: check ins more than once per day do not count towards redemption of the free offer; or free offer value at $5.00, may not be accumulated or transferred, may not be redeemed for cash, etc.

The women’s clothing store Ann Taylor recently launched a Foursquare promotion like this in New York City giving shoppers 15% off at the store after their 5th check in and giving the person with the most check ins at one location (called the Mayor) 25% off their purchase at that visit.

Another company, Tasti D-Lite, offers frequent shoppers a branded Foursquare badge, as well as additional loyalty points on their physical loyalty card, plus freebies and other perks.

2.            Organize a real-time treasure hunt: Now this could get really fun.  Leave a clue of the day on the “Tips” section of your Foursquare page with the answer to each clue being a different special of the day.  The customers who come in and guess the special, get the special, plus they are eligible to win a bigger prize at the end of the contest.

Another company, Jimmy Choo, a high-end designer footwear brand, runs this contest by having a pair of Jimmy Choo sneakers check in at various hot spots around town.  The person who is able to guess the next hot spot and arrive there before the Jimmy Choo shoes arrive will win a pair of very expensive shoes.

3.            Use Foursquare to entice new customers to come into your store by offering a 1st Timers check in discount or freebie.  “Show us your check-in and your dessert is on us!”  Again, make sure you communicate clearly in your offer what the rules are; i.e., free dessert is only for first check in, and must be redeemed with purchase of a meal; etc.”

4.            Leverage word of mouth marketing: One of the benefits of Foursquare is that friends can “follow” each other and thus can see each other’s check in’s on Foursquare.  Note:  The check in’s are also posted on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp, if they’ve enabled the function.   This is huge for your business because every check in at your location is a tacit recommendation from the person checking in there.    Leverage this exposure by inviting people to check in via Foursquare.  Providing special offers for those who check in via Foursquare will invite people to check in more often.

Also, make sure you pay attention to what people are saying on Foursquare about your business, because whether you use it or not, people are using it, and chance are, they are talking about your business.  Personally reply back to people who leave tips or make positive comments and thank them.  Likewise, it’s just as important to respond to negative comments as well and to remedy the issue as soon as possible.    Don’t be negative; just say something like, “I’m sorry that you had a bad experience.  Let’s get it touch and discuss how we can make it up to you.”

5.            Tie in text message marketing with Foursquare. Invite people to take photos of them having fun or otherwise enjoying your location and text the photos to a special text message phone number.  Once they do this they will have opted into your text message marketing program and you will be able to send them additional specials and discounts via text.

What other ways can you use Foursquare to market your high traffic location based business?    I would love to hear your comments.  Next post, how to market your non-location based business on Foursquare.