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The Foursquare ROI Challenge is in full swing and we are now talking to various businesses about their Foursquare plans and how they can use location-based marketing to “steal” customers.

One of the more common questions that we get from businesses is:

How do I know which Foursquare special to run?

And right off the bat, we respond with:

It depends.

When thinking about marketing services to people, there are three basic questions we try to answer before developing any strategy:

  1. What makes people buy.
  2. What makes people buy more.
  3. What makes people come back and buy again.

What Makes People Buy

There is a wide number of reasons people buy, but experience tells me that one stimulus that can trigger a buying event is location. Location — as in the item you want to buy is in direct proximity to your physical location. It can be as simple as the shelves that are set up next to the cash register at the grocery store or it can be as complex as cross selling items to fans at a sporting event. Without people in a location, buying is still possible — but geographic location significantly increases the chances of buying.

If your primary intent is to use Foursquare as a tool to get more people (even steal them away from your competition) to buy from you the first time, use one of the Foursquare specials called a Frequency-based Special and set it to one.

(“Foursquare users get 20% off any entree with your first check-in!”)

What Makes People Buy More

Once someone has made a decision to buy something, what makes them want to buy “more somethings”? And how many somethings can you sell on average to each customer?

Once people check in at your store, you can run specials that encourage people to buy more. Check-in specials are unlocked when someone checks in a certain number of times.

(“Foursquare says you’ve been here 3 times? That means you have earned a buy-2-get-1-free set of earmuffs!”)

What Makes People Come Back And Buy Again

Customer loyalty is important to any business and Foursquare has a special for that too — in the form of a “Mayor Special.” Mayor Specials are unlocked only by the Mayor of your store. Who’s the Mayor? It’s your single most loyal customer! (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days)

(“Foursquare has deemed you the Mayor? Enjoy a free dessert with your order!”)

What makes people buy? What makes them buy more? What makes them come back and buy?

The three most basic questions a business can ask.

And Foursquare specials can help you answer them.