The Crickets Are Chirping At The Local Publix…

What prompted this post? I am the Mayor of my local Publix on Foursquare. Last night was my 30th check-in. 30th. Yes, 30 of them. But have I heard from them? No. In fact, it is so silent, you can hear the crickets chirping.

If you had a customer walk in the doors of your joint 30 times, wouldn’t you want to at least acknowledge them? [Answer: you better.] Hell, at this point, I’d love a message from the Publix manager saying, well, how about “thanks for your business – we appreciate you!”

I am spending time exploring Foursquare. I see value in it for my clients. And that’s largely why I spend time on the app, so that I can learn how to execute a geolocation strategy on their behalf.

For those still unsure about the personal value of this technology? Here is Todd’s preliminary list:

1. You can see what others have said about a place you are about to check-in to. Is the restaurant good? Is the service good? What should you buy? What should you avoid? What staffer should you ask for?

2. And obviously, more and more places are offering discounts and specials for their foursquared fans…

3. If you are lost in the middle of nowhere, or a visitor to a new town, you can initiate the check-in process on your smart phone, and see what’s nearby (then use #1 above and see what the locals are saying about it).

4. For me, the most important use of Foursquare is that it serves as an easy conversation starter. For instance, I also checked-in last night at the non-profit where I serve on the Board of Directors. Now, if someone wants to do business with me, they would go a long way towards establishing trust with me if they inquired and asked about my non-profit.

5. And lastly? I will admit, I like knowing what the people in my network are doing. It helps me keep a pulse on what’s happening in my community. And I like knowing what my friends are doing, and what they are interested in.

I say this is my preliminary list. Because I am sure I will uncover others.

But let’s get back to my local Publix. It boggles my mind that they wouldn’t acknowledge someone who has checked-in 30 times. And, honestly, I am not looking for some special or discount [hint: wine specials please!]

What I do think is important is some outreach –> “Thanks for your business! How can we serve you better? What are other ways to make this store more valuable to you? How can we win people over who are currently shopping at the Kroger across the street?”

That said, I do think rewarding loyal customers is important. Stripped down, Foursquare is a game. You compete for points, for badges, and for the title of Mayor. This spirit of competition could and should be fun. And memorable. And something to talk about…

And also, an important driver of business.

But you may ask, “well, since you have been there 30 times recently, do they really need to work to keep you coming back? You have already proven to be a good customer.” If I have to really answer that question…

“But there are only a million people on Foursquare…” Yes, and it is growing much faster than Twitter was at this stage of their development…so like Twitter, this geolocation concept is going to change the game.

“But not everyone has a smartphone…” Yeah, and nobody thought cars would sell, or motion pictures, or planes (who would want to fly across the country?), or televisions (and who on earth would ever have more than one television), or websites would be for everyone, or that email would be used as THE communication tool, and thank God I have all those long-playing records, cassettes, and compact discs in a box in my basement…

The point is, technology like geolocation is changing the game. Slowly perhaps, but surely. It is time to get in the game and figure out how to use it…

…or those crickets will be chirping permanently at your place of business.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

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  • Robyn

    I have to be honest with you, it boggles my mind that a man has checked in at the grocery store 30 times. That said, I would think that alone would spark the attention of Publix.
    On a serious note, I agree with you and I think the geolocation apps open up a incredible opportunity for businesses to honor loyalty. I believe these geo apps are the easiest way to spot an evangelist. The sooner businesses can understand and embrace that I think they will be surprised at the goodness they can tap.

  • tschnick

    Yeah, should be national news, right?

    Your mention of “incredible opportunity” is what strikes a chord. This is a chance for businesses to do something extraordinary with this…

    What a shame that most are ignoring it…

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