Getting started in location-based marketing
Explore the options
If you're not already familiar with them, go online and spend some time exploring:
- Google My Business
- Facebook Places
Some of these services (e.g. Google My Business) will require you to sign up as a personal user in order to explore their sites properly. Signing up doesn't commit you to anything, and it's worth doing so that you can take a look around.
Look at what kind of people, in what locations, are using the various services. Think about which ones might work for your business. This is important market research, so make time to do it properly. You may even want to experience each service as a user for a while before you establish a business presence. Using a service is a great way to learn how it works and what customers like best.
Claim and complete your profile pages
Even if you do no other location-based marketing, you should claim your profile pages on each location-based site so that customers using these pages get accurate, positive, up-to-date information about your business.
Many location-based services may already have generated a profile page for your business, using publicly available information (e.g. from a telephone directory). Where a site doesn't list your business, you should create a page yourself.
Each location-based service is slightly different, but most make it fairly easy to claim and complete your page. Claiming and completing your profile pages doesn't commit you to making any offers or participating in other marketing activities.
Google My Business
The Google My Business home page has an easy-to-use section inviting you to claim your business listing, and takes you through the process step by step. To complete your page, you will only need basic information about your business and, ideally, a photograph.
Facebook's business home page also guides you through the process of creating a business page. A good Facebook page requires considerable thought and effort. Learn more about creating a Facebook page for your business.
Zomato lists only restaurants and other food businesses. To claim your page, go to the Zomato home page and click on your city. Then search for your business by name. If it comes up, you'll see customer reviews on the left-hand side of the page, and a button on the right-hand side that says 'Is this your restaurant?' Click this button and follow the prompts to edit the information provided.
You can also amend information about your business by clicking on 'Edit Restaurant' in your restaurant's listing. However, you will be able to make changes more quickly and have access to more data if you do claim your page.
If your business isn't already on Zomato, click on 'Add a Restaurant' at the bottom of the homepage.
Yelp lists businesses of many kinds. The quickest way to see if your business has a page here is to go to the Yelp home page and search for your business name.
Generally, a listing will appear with your name at the top. Click on your name and your business information will appear. Beneath the opening hours, you'll see a small link that says 'Work here? Unlock this business page'. If you click on this, you'll be guided through the process of creating a business account that allows you to change your page. Alternatively, you can go straight to the Yelp business page and create your account from there.
Decide if you want to make offers
Some location-based marketing services allow you to offer your customers deals or discounts (e.g. Facebook My Business has 'deals', and Yelp has 'deals' and 'check-in offers'). Compare what each service offers you and check the costs involved (some services provide these functions for free, while others charge).
Think about your target group, your business, and what goal you could achieve by making offers. Depending on your budget, you might even like to seek advice from a social media consultant about the best strategy for you.
Decide if you want to use paid advertising
Paid advertising is an option on Facebook, Zomato and Yelp. Google Places does not have paid advertising, but Google AdWords does. When deciding whether to take out paid advertisements on any of these services, look at the different packages available, what they cost, and how many potential customers they will reach.