These days, I’m hearing more and more about Location-Based Services (LBS) as the next big opportunity for startups. So far, it’s just another mobile phone app that tells people where there friends are (Foursquare and Facebook Places), but it’s poised to be a lot more. Internet marketers see it as a better way to target consumers, and even retarget them to close a sale.
But entrepreneurs need to look more broadly than this to tracking, navigation solutions, safety, security, local business search, and payments. Beyond mobile phones, the same concepts can be applied to embedded systems, portable navigation devices, and laptops. Before long, the opportunities will be even greater from mining this data to reveal further insights.
As outlined by Adam Holden-Bache recently on Social Media B2B, I’m convinced that business-to-business has more money and more untapped opportunities, along the following lines:
- Strategic partnerships. If your B2B contacts are frequenting other non-competitive local businesses, LBS data could point you to more lucrative business partnerships. “Coopetition,” or strategic cooperation with a competitor is another angle.
- Sponsorships and advertising. If your B2B contacts check-in regularly at certain types of locations (entertainment venues, stores, etc.) then you may want to consider potential sponsorships or advertising opportunities with that business or venue.
- Incentives or rewards. Knowing what your contacts like to do will give you insight on ways you can reward them. If you see a large percentage of your contacts checking into coffee shops each morning, you may want to consider gift cards as a possible reward for an upcoming incentive program.
- Event marketing. Are you seeing a lot of your contacts attending certain business events? Whether it’s a local tweet-up or a major conference, this knowledge could be useful to help you plan what events you should sponsor or where you should set up your next booth.
- Lead generation. Identify potential new relationships. See who is checking into your business. See who checks into your competition. See who checks in to the business events that your existing contacts attend.
- Thought leadership. If you know your contacts’ real-life interests, you could use that information in your marketing efforts. Here we tread on that fine line between value delivery and individual worry about privacy invasion.
- Branded entertainment. Leave tips where your contacts go (maybe similar to what History Channel does on Foursquare). Create a trip in Gowalla (see what Whole Foods or Toms Shoes is doing) or create a society in Whrrl (check out USA Today’s society).
- Understand the competition. Understand how users are physically interacting with your competition, and if so, what they are doing before and after those visits. If you notice any trends, you may be able to position your brand to cut-off a potential visit before it happens.
- Stronger nurturing and relationship building. During lead nurturing, you could use LBS data to better understanding your contacts’ interests and use that to your advantage. LBS data can not only give you information to drive the relationship, but you can also use it to identify your sales reps with similar interests and partner them with the prospect.
If you think location-based services are a long way from mainstream, take a look at the new research from a Microsoft survey that LBS may be poised to follow in the footsteps of the ATM, which took some time to dispel safety and privacy concerns on its way to being universally accepted. They claim 51% of the people surveyed around the world have already used LBS.
Juniper forecasts that by 2014 the global opportunity for LBS will reach $13 billion, and Global Industry Analysts projects that by 2015 the global LBS market could be $21 billion. These numbers and the B2B applications are more than enough to catch the attention of venture capitalists and angel investors. All you need to add is an innovative idea and viable business model.
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