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Is digital marketing becoming location, location, location?

Everywhere you turn these days, the news is about location-based services in the online space—and how to get deals as a result of this location craze. It was rather quaint when you needed only to choose between Foursquare and Gowalla and you knew that the only thing at stake was a useless online badge proving you were more vain than the previous mayor of wherever. Now, however, location is a very different game and it’s much more dense. Notice I didn’t say complicated. It really isn’t. You check-in wherever you are but now there are two other layers to cut through.

Sweet! @foursquare now showing mayor offers.

Image by Joshua Kaufman via Flickr

Let’s start with the first layer, which begins with the question, “Who the heck do I check in with?” Like I said, many long for the simpler days of location-based services (all those many months ago) when you could go with the crowd and play the Foursquare game or be one of the dissenters who decided that the in-place was Gowalla (or Loopt if you were a locationista rebel type).
Now, I have to decide whether I want to be old school or whether I check in with Facebook or Yelp. Or should you turn on locations awareness in Twitter, so every tweet is tagged with your location? Or, gee whiz, do I do all of the above just to cover all of my bases? So many options and only two thumbs. What’s a restless narcissist to do?
But even if you get past that layer, you’ve got to ask yourself why you are checking in. Are you checking in so you can collect another badge with which to impress your geek friends? Or are you checking in because you are on the hunt for a bargain?
Perhaps we’ve tackled these layers in the wrong order. Maybe you need to think about what you are looking for from your check-in before you actually check in. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste precious check-in time checking-in where you really didn’t want to check-in at in the first place, right?
So now it appears as if we have entered the “Check-In Zone” which might very well be the Internet age’s equivalent of the Twilight Zone. You can check in but you may not check out. Or even worse, you can check in but you might forget why you checked in. No matter how you slice this one, there is going to be confusion and there might be a lot of hip urban dwellers spinning in check-in circles that could result in…well, nothing of any real importance, honestly.
All joking aside, however, as an Internet marketer or just an SMB (small and medium business) trying to figure out how to capitalize on this growing trend, this location-based marketing field has become quite crowded quite quickly. Once again, it’s not difficult but it is dense.
Decisions need to be made to focus your marketing dollars and efforts. It’s hard enough to keep track of several social media outlets. Now you need to figure out just what you offered to whom and when. This sounds like the makings of a location-based train wreck for the average business person.
Gee, we haven’t even mentioned what might happen if Google starts to throw its weight around in the location-based services bounce house. With all of the attention given to their Place Pages lately, it is pretty fair to speculate that there might be a location-based element coming from Google as part of the mythical Google Me which we hear about but never really see.
So how will this look in a year? Heck, how will this look in the first part of 2011? Your guess is as good as mine, so why not share your guess with me here at Biznology. After all, more often than not, the people providing these services are barely a chapter ahead of the rest of us so what you think may actually give these people their next great idea.
Care to check in with your thoughts?

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