I’ve been tweeting and blogging about Foursquare quite a bit, lately, and with all of the buzz that the popular location-based platform has been getting this year, I shouldn’t be surprised that more and more brands and local businesses are jumping onboard. But I have to admit that I was extremely surprised (and delighted) when I had a Foursquare encounter this past week with a company I’ve been doing business with. Here’s the story:
On my way up to New Hampshire last Sunday for Easter, I stopped in at Newburyport’s Advantage Yacht Sales. Being (increasingly) Foursquare-obsessed, I’d planned to have to enter the company into Foursquare’s database myself but was surprised to see that they were already in there, so I was able to simply “check-in."
On Tuesday morning, (less than 2 days after I checked-in), I received this email from one of the company’s owners:
From: Douglyss Giuliana
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 11:03 AM
To: 'Mike Proulx'
You are the first customer to check-in with AYS on Foursquare! Thanks! We have a special gift for you for being such a trailblazer.
You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/advantageyachtsales
Advantage Yacht Sales
Doug and I traded a few emails back-and-forth as I was intensely curious as to how he’d heard about Foursquare and why he decided to set up his own company. Since the business model of a boat dealership, inherently, yields very low frequency and consistency of visits AND customers tend to skew older (and therefore are likely NOT heavy users of emerging media), I wondered about Doug’s expectations and business objectives on Foursquare:
This was his response:
“Yes, for us things like Foursquare and even Facebook are not home runs given our demo and volume. But, it is inexpensive in dollar cost and we need to be primed as the current social media crowd ages INTO our key demo. And boating is one of those things where we are always selling the lifestyle more than the product. This gives another vehicle for promoting the lifestyle and making the lifestyle a larger part of our buyers’ lives.”
Smart (and strategic thinking) on Doug’s part on behalf of Advantage Yacht Sales (AYS) for a few key reasons:
1. AYS is establishing a footprint:
They are seeding Foursquare early while the barrier to entry is extremely low and new user growth rates are extremely high. As more AYS customers and prospects eventually sign-on to Foursquare, they will be met with an established presence and core (albeit nimble) user-base. And with the exception of a little bit of personnel time for relationship management (which they should be doing constantly anyway), being on Foursquare costs the company NOTHING.
2. AYS is NOT taking a “one size fits all” marketing approach:
The company recognizes that, while their core demo skews older, they cannot use the same marketing tactics to reach their younger demographic – and that this “younger” demographic will eventually become the older demographic so it’s important to engage them, now, in the spaces where their younger demographic is engaging, today.
3. AYS is thinking beyond just the dealership “check-in”:
This is the more brilliant part of Advantage Yacht Sales’ Foursquare strategy. Although “check-ins” to the dealership (once a customer has commissioned their boat) will be very far and few between, the places that the, now, boat owner goes with and/or because of their boat tie back to potential WOM for where they purchased their boat in the first place. This includes check-ins to marinas, ports, restaurants, yacht clubs, supply shops, gear stores, etc. all as part of the “lifestyle” of the boat owner. It alerts the boat owner’s Foursquare friends (and, if configured, Twitter followers and Facebook friends) a constant reminder of their boat. And when the boat-owner’s web-savvy friends are in the consideration set to buy one themselves, they will most likely be approached about a dealer recommendation resulting in a qualified lead for AYS.
It will take a while for Advantage Yacht Sales to see any tangible benefit from their early social media marketing footprint but kudos to them for their forward-thinking “test and learn” attitude that serves as a great example from which other businesses can learn.