I’ve always been a fan of location-based cause marketing, which means you target supporters (and potential ones) where they are and where they care. The key to growth in this area are smartphones and tablets, which are changing the way causes connect with stakeholders.
Just this month I wrote on how one mobile payment provider is allowing users to donate to causes when they pay with the app. I’m bullish on the intersection of cause, mobile and business. And that won’t change!
However, my affection for a link between location-based services (e.g. Foursquare, SCVNGR, Yelp) and cause marketing has waned. I haven’t written about any of them in nearly a year and haven’t checked-in to Foursquare for at least as long. With just 25 million Foursquare users worldwide (compare that to nearly a billion Facebook users) investing my time in the service didn’t seem worth it.
But a new location based service, Check-in for Good, has me reconsidering my position. Here’s why:
The premise behind Check-in for Good is a good one. When consumers check in with the app the business makes a donation to a cause. Nonprofits can help themselves by petitioning local businesses to designate them as a check-in beneficiary.
It’s a good option for businesses since the giving only happens when shoppers check-in at the physical location of the business. An added bonus is that businesses can add a special or discount to further drive visits and donations.
This video does a good job of explaining how Check-in for Good works.
The challenge for Check-in for Good is the same as for any location-based service – or for any social media network for that matter: how do you get people to use it? If only small percentage of social media users are checking-in on services such as Foursquare, the potential audience for Check-in for Good must be small.
Still, there is a rough road map on how this location-based app might succeed. It comes from none other than Radio Shack, which is a Foursquare ninja thanks to a focused strategy from which the team at Check-in for Good and its supporters could learn.
First, Radio Shack doesn’t care if you’ve ever heard of Foursquare. It’s a tool to deliver deals and discounts, which is one of the goals of Check-in for a Cause. Like The Shack, this app for a cause needs to focus on the value it delivers: supporting great causes and sharing specials with shoppers. Forget about the technology. It’s just a hammer.
Second, Check-in for a Cause should target businesses that cater to the young people who are more apt to check-in to a business. Radio Shack wasn’t trying to target grandmothers. The Shack tapped into a natural, existing audience for the service: smartphone-toting Millennials that know more about apps than algebra.
Third, Radio Shack prides itself on a knowledgeable sales force. Their sales team will show you how to download the Foursquare app to check-in and get your deal. Check-in for a Cause needs to commit itself to the same level of training. Maybe motivated nonprofits can be helpful in recruiting and training businesses so they can raise more money from consumers.
I’m rooting for Check-in for Good. Mobile is the future and this app makes it easy for businesses and nonprofits to help each other and change the world.