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A very interesting location based marketing discussion popped up online recently. A screen shot of a Mercedes Benz dealership's foursquare venue was posted online by DrivingSales community friend Aaron Strout. (Two-time DSES keynote speaker & Location Based Marketing for Dummies co-author)
Joe Webb and I share some of our thoughts below.
EM: Aaron posted this picture to highlight the creative tip usage by a large brand. Tips are an extremely important element of the foursquare platform as this is where deeper levels of consumer value can be found. As more brands get involved, even more value can be passed along. However, in this situation, a tip left by Edmunds.com may not be viewed as being helpful for the dealership.
The tip reads: "Think twice about trading in your car. You'll get more for it by selling it yourself." Aaron called out the unique usage of this element and it's ability to help consumers - exactly what foursquare wants to deliver. Yes, it's a commonly known fact and one that many dealerships clearly share with their consumers. It gets sticky because Edmunds' relationship with the retail community as a vendor, a lead provider and also one who makes a lot of money advertising dealership inventory.
JW: While badges, Mayorships and general notoriety may be some of the driving forces behind the usage of location based apps like foursquare; taking advantage of Tips and Specials is when the VALUE really kicks in for consumers. Much like Twitter, people enjoy seeing the businesses they frequent join in on the location-based communities they visit. For businesses, adding Tips and Specials shows the customer that you are listening and valuing their business as an online consumer.
Let’s face it, Eric. We live in a very ME-centric world and everyone (of our customers) feel as if they deserve something special… just for being them. Creating a simple tip or special on foursquare for your customer base is just one small way of offering them an added bonus for participating in that social forum. They feel as if they’re in the In Crowd… and your dealership is too. The goal of every dealership should be to serve and retain their loyal customers. Location-based services provide a newer (and more quantitative) medium in which to open up a relationship with them.
EM: The solution? More education and awareness. Individuals and brands need to learn more about how the platform works how it can improve a consumer's experience and also help a brand's online presence. This also presents a wonderful opportunity for brands like Edmunds to work with the retail automotive segment to provide deeper transparency and greater consumer value while not appearing to create any potentially competitive activity.
Imagine if this tip said: "Trading in your car? Sellers checking their trade-in value on Edmunds.com http://www.edmunds.com/sell-car/ get 15% more on avg!” - That's a bit more helpful, drives some traffic and builds awareness.
JW: Exactly! Edmunds is one of the primary automotive resource sites for the public and they are a valuable source for both dealers and consumers. However, these tips only serve one the parties. If Edmunds is to continue on with leaving tips within location-based services, I recommend that they try to champion the dealer and the research rather than the transaction process. For example, I believe they would be serving both parties (dealer and consumer) if they offered more positive tips such as…
Those are just a few I thought up, but they are certainly less antagonistic than the others we’ve shared here. These types of tips are supporting the importance of research while also backing the dealership and brand. Best of all, these tips would serve their initial intent, which was to keep the name of Edmunds.com in front of customers during a critical time.
JW: The whole issue gets cloudy when tips are left by outside parties that can interfere with the goodwill you the dealership is trying to create. In Aaron’s example, we see a situation where a third-party vendor is attempting to be a champion for the consumer. While I’m all for transparency with the public, tips like this are positioning consumer vs. dealer. That relationship isn’t good for anyone. When we understand that trade-ins are of critical importance to a dealership’s profit, why would a vendor attempt to cut off a profit-center? Moreover, considering that the dealer is also likely a customer of Edmunds, tips such as these seem antagonistic. If you, as a dealer, are dedicating advertising budget toward a third-party provider and they, in turn, attempt to cause friction in the purchase process, then you will want to rethink your partnership.
EM: Another example of the Wild West activity that can occur on foursquare is between local competitors. Two years ago, I became the Mayor of a local dealership and added a tip to their venue page saying: "Do your research & check the prices at Auction Direct!" I added this tip back when check-ins at this venue, and in the area, were nearly non-existent; I was simply testing the app's functionality and assumed it would be removed eventually. (I thought wrong - it's still there & nobody has ever said anything to me about it) I don't recommend doing this now; it's tantamount to bidding for competitor names in PPC campaigns - not needed.
JW: Here’s another example below that I was alerted to where Edmunds positions themselves as a friend to the consumer, but enemy of the dealership process. I believe we can all agree that this is even less of a tip for the customer and more like an attempt to cause anxiety in the negotiation process. Simply put, it is too vague of a tip to have value for the consumer and is only meant to make a customer question the dealer’s pricing and intent.
Dealers using Tips and Specials are leading the charge in connecting with a more online-loyal and influential clientele. With the ability to track data and usage, the positives far outweigh any negatives. Either way, whether you take advantage of this medium or not, it is crucial that you are cognizant of your dealership’s activity on these forums. You need to know if you are being represented fairly, both by your customers and the vendors you’ve aligned with. Don’t allow your vendor partners to play both sides when it is your profit and reputation at stake.
Aaron - Thank you for sharing the original image and highlighting this usage example. Between your advocacy of location based strategies and our voice(s) within the industry, together we have the ability to provide valuable guidance for everyone involved.
Joe - Thanks for adding your thoughts and recommendations, I'm sure you're having more of these conversations with your clients these days. Keep pushing the needle and provding the value you're known for.
I’ll continue to pound the table for greater mobile understanding and the inclusion of location based marketing solutions among dealership's digital footprint. Discussions like these will continue to help consumers, dealers and vendors.
Also important to note, Edmunds and their social media team has responded swiftly by starting to remove tips like these and is already exploring other alternatives. The goal of this post is to provide the education and understanding needed for your venues, not to throw Edmunds under the bus.
Take-away: Claim your venue, manage the page activity using foursquare's free analytics, encourage helpful tips from your customers and explore mutually beneficial venue page alliances with industry brands. Haven’t claimed your venue yet? Get started here in three easy steps: http://Join.4sq.com/emiltsch
How are you leveraging venue tips at your dealership?
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