American Express and Foursquare Join Forces

Originally posted on Aaron’s WCG work blog on June 24.


Some things just go together like chocolate and peanut butter. I’d categorize the latest announcement by American Express and location-based services leader, foursquare as one of those combinations. If you follow the location-based services space at all, you might remember that Amex and foursquare partnered up for a trial run during South by Southwest (SXSW) back in March. The three day trial was an overwhelming success and obviously set the stage for the two companies’ latest announcement.

So what does this mean? Personally, I see this as a win/win/win for the location-based services space, both companies and in particular, their customers. Here’s how I see each stakeholder benefiting:

  • Location-based services – the fact that 161 year old American Express (also number 91 on Fortune’s most recent “500” list) is partnering with foursquare is a major validation to the whole location-based industry. In particular, it says that a company as big, old and well-known as Amex sees value in LBS.
  • Amex/foursquare – this makes Amex look younger and hipper and creates a loyalty 2.0-style program that is a key differentiator between them and the other credit card/FiServ companies. For foursquare, this further solidifies their positioning as the de facto leader in LBS.
  • The customer – where’s the downside of getting money back and additional rewards as a result of checking in? None that I can see. And I’ve talked to David Wolf at Amex, the man responsible for making this program happen, and he has assured me that there is next to zero security risk based on the way they’ve set up the program.

Being a realist, we still have a ways to go with the lead location-based provider boasting a mere 10 million members. But this is a start. Most importantly, it shows other companies that they can benefit from location-based services as well. What other companies need to jump into the LBS game before you’re a believer?

10 Keys to a Good Location Based Marketing Campaign

Originally posted on my work blog at on April 7, 2011

If you aren’t familiar with location based services, some of the top providers are foursquare, Gowalla, YelpFacebook Places and SCVNGR. These services help companies engage with their customers and create loyalty 2.0 programs by exchanging value (offers, coupons, badges, mayorships) for tips, check-ins and spreading the word. In this particular post, I’m going to share 10 basic tips that any company can use to help build a successful location based marketing program:

  1. Be sure to claim your location across each of the top 5-6 location based providers, even if you don’t plan on regularly monitoring/engaging in all of them.
  2. Pick 1-2 services to use (hint: if you’re in the travel and entertainment industry, Gowalla is a great choice). One way to decide which service(s) are right for you is to see how active your customers are across each service.
  3. Find out who your influencers are (the mayor, ambassador or the person at the top of your leader board is usually a good place to start) and get to know them. Heck, invite them in for coffee, lunch, a wine tasting.
  4. Set some goals. Are looking to drive foot traffic? Loyalty? Sales? Engagement? Think about how to measure this.
  5. Pick a great offer. Note that “great” doesn’t equal “expensive.” Sometimes, a sign in your store/venue honoring the “mayor” might be enough. My co-author, Mike Schneider, and I have what we call the “Ben & Jerry’s Rule” named after one of the first successful campaigns ever to roll out on foursquare. They offered 3 scoops of ice cream for $3 for everyone that checked in (cost for 3 scoops is normally $5.50). And even better, the mayor got a free extra scoop.
  6. Measure, refine and optimize.
  7. Don’t be afraid to leverage the “game dynamics” of some of these platforms as appropriate. For instance, on SCVNGR, you might give extra points for a picture with the store manager. Or if you sell coffee, a bonus for the best drink recommendation.
  8. Remember to let people know about your program by putting up signs, telling them in your newsletter, including a mention on your “on hold” music, etc.
  9. Operationalize, operationalize, operationalize. This means that if you are going to run a location based marketing campaign, train your employees. Train yourself. And make sure you have whatever it is that you’re promising. Not operationalizing is where many companies fall down.
  10. If you are tech savvy (or have some tech savvy developers), try experimenting with some of the APIs these location based platform providers make available for free. You can jazz up your website or your mobile app.

Has your company launched a location based marketing campaign? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.