Foursquare and Beyond

Location-based marketing comes into its own
By Tom Thompson

Foursquare_logoOne of the most promising new ways to let people know about books is location-based marketing. Of course location-based marketing has been around as long as there’ve been street teams, billboards and bar coasters, but the field is opening up in exciting new directions thanks to recent innovations.

We share in the excitement for services like Foursquare that we heard from the slew of publishing industry pros who attended the recent SXSWi  conference. We think there’s a lot to explore there, from building plot-based treasure hunts on Gowalla to unlocking book-related badges on Foursquare.

But location-based digital advertising goes beyond these services. Here are some related ideas that we would love to put in action for the right book:

  1. Commission a hand-painted building mural by a street artist based around your book. Capture the 2-3 day-long painting of the mural on video and show a time-lapse version on your website, the author’s blog, or as part of a :30 TV ad. While you’re at it, why not hold an author event at the bar across the street when the mural’s completed?
  2. Run a live text-poll in a bar, showing the results in real-time on a monitor over the bar. “Yankees vs. Mets,” “iPad vs. Kindle,”  “Obama vs. Tea Party” – if your book delves into one of our culture’s pivot points, tap into your audience’s opinions. That’s where the passion gets stirred up.
  3. Display live tweets from your author or about a book (using a Twitter hashtag) in a bar. This could be tied-in with an author event – so the live crowd and the audience watching online through uStream can be truly tied into the same experience.
  4. Reach families at family fun parks with signage, giveaways and more. Capture the day on video and run it online.

Location-based marketing is not new. But the ability to immediately amplify an event’s marketing punch beyond the particular location through social media is suddenly not just possible, it’s also affordable. The more we learn and the more we can do, the clearer it is that once-separate spheres known as advertising, marketing and promotion are merging into one effort. Call it whatever you want, but make sure you get the word out!

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