Small business local marketing caution

You may have heard about the center of one of the latest marketing feeding-frenzies. It’s called the location-based social network (LBSN).

Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and Brightkite are among the most well-known LBSNs.

Simply put, “Location-based social networks (LBSNs)…offer interactive marketers the promise of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media,” explains Melissa Parrish, an analyst at Forrester Research.

And while reaching the customer when he or she is at or near your place of business sounds like the pinnacle of small business local marketing success, you probably shouldn’t rush to join the frenzy. Here’s why. According to the research:

  • Only 4% of  U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.
  • Only 1% use these services more than once per week.
  • Fully 84% of respondents said they are not familiar with such apps, “leaving the vast majority of Americans online still in the dark about location-based apps, which have had the marketing world obsessing over them in recent months.”

For now, checking out LBSN’s may be a good idea if your business targets young men. Almost “80% of location-based service users are male. Close to 70% of them are between the ages of 19 and 35,” reports Forrester.

Stay tuned, however. Mobile marketing may soon catch up to its hype. And when it does, it will be good news for owners of small businesses.

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