This post is a part of a series celebrating National Small Business Week. If you’re a small business owner using Shoeboxed for your business and would like to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you.

Here at Shoeboxed, we know that small businesses are key to bringing growth and innovation to cities everywhere.  We recognize this impact and choose to celebrate them all of the time (not just during National Small Business Week).  And we’re not the only ones who are noticing small businesses!

Who’s noticing?

Foursquare is a popular mobile app that allows users to check-in at their favorite restaurants, bars and businesses, thus promoting these venues to friends and followers.  You see the appeal to business owners:  easy marketing done by the consumers themselves.  After all, who is more credible to potential customers than their peers who have first-hand experience with these businesses?

foursquare app

While word of mouth marketing is extremely valuable to entrepreneurs, they also want some of their own advertising tactics to reach consumers.  Previously, businesses could only advertise to individuals through discounts offered after users checked-in at a location.  Now, the app is allowing these businesses to promote themselves to potential customers in their vicinity through store listings found within the application.  Businesses can also advertise to individuals with a photo of a drink or entrée, as well as by sharing positive reviews from previous customers.

So where do small businesses fit in?

Up until now, Foursquare only allowed national corporations, such as KFC and RadioShack, to take advantage of these promotional listings.  According to an article in AdAge, the mobile app company has started capitalizing on the impact small businesses can have, however.  Foursquare is currently allowing a small group of New York City merchants to take advantage of this preemptive service and target individuals in their vicinity.  In 2012 alone, Foursquare received $1.2 billion in revenue from small businesses.

Steven Rosenblatt, chief revenue officer at Foursquare, said the service is open to only a limited number of small businesses to ensure the service is as effective as possible, for both Foursquare and the business partners.  The service should be available to more small businesses later in the summer.

How can small businesses use Foursquare advertising to full effect?

Small businesses are targeting individuals based on their locations and Foursquare check-in histories.  Merchants can examine users’ previous check-ins to see whether individuals have checked in at their business before or at similar places.

For example, a frozen yogurt shop owner in Manhattan could target individuals living in Manhattan who have previously checked in at another frozen yogurt shop in the area.  You can see how beneficial this advertising service could be for small business owners looking to attract new customers.

Once businesses have chosen the appropriate Foursquare users to target, their promoted listing can appear in users’ recommendations, on Foursquare’s homepage, or in the “Explore Nearby” section of the app.  Merchants can also choose when to turn their Foursquare promotions on and off  and are only charged on a “per action” basis.  This means that businesses are charged when a user actually clicks on the listing, not when a user merely sees at the advertisement.

Agozar is a Cuban restaurant in New York City that is benefitting from promotional listings with Foursquare.  Co-founder Gerardo Perez said, “I believe it’s giving us more exposure and visibility than before.”

How do you think this new Foursquare advertising is beneficial to your everyday routines, either as a small business owner or a consumer?

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