Saturday, November 20, 2010

Converting those who say: Foursquare's NOT for Me!

As some may be aware,  I religiously follow the tweets of my virtual mentor Olivier Blanchard (aka @thebrandbuilder).  He recently got into a feisty discussion about Foursquare. Some good points were made about the platform, but clearly he explained that there are numerous opportunities within their business model to be improved upon to make it a stand-out leader & to grow among their competitors.

"For Foursquare to scale, adoption has to accelerate. How do I do that? I focus on businesses AND users/players." - Olivier Blanchard
Image from
That conversation got me thinking about if & why or why not the people I converse with on a regular basis have adopted this mobile app since I've rarely seen any of them "checking in" via fb or twitter. Or perhaps they have & I missed it since it's a declaration of a particular time, place & event.

So, I did a rather informal & non-statistical survey among a few Twitter & Facebook friends.  Out of the 15 women that responded:
  • 2 had no idea what Foursquare was
  • 3 deliberately don't use it, citing privacy concerns
  • 6 are more active users
  • & 4 are either non-recent or infrequent users.
I personally fall into the never been interested for privacy bucket, so with me, there are 4 in that category and 16 total, however I am curious to understand what all the fuss is about.  When I compare it to other reward vehicles like a debit or credit card that pays me cash back every time I use it and loyalty programs who utilize something as simple as a punch card, the value proposition just doesn't measure up fast enough to make it worth my time.

Trophy Case & badges ~ From
One major consideration would be that I am NOT a gamer. Although I've been very competitive over the years from an athletic perspective, video games will never hook me. I'm also not interested in the status of a hypothetical political title, so being proclaimed a "Mayor" doesn't cut it either.

So what would Foursquare need to do to convert me, the value-conscious, but curious segment, in order to attract & retain me as a user? The Utilization & Retention challenge certainly isn't a new one, but good marketing plans that understand & build programs to proactively manage them supports every good revenue model.When you're talking about a free service, there's little value in a database of inactive users.

So for those of us that find no status in badges & titles, what rewards will get & keep us engaged? Take a lesson from retailers like @Target, who has introduced a new 5% immediate discount on every purchase. Kids Hair just convinced me to buy a coupon book which essentially gives me a free hair cut for my munchkin when I buy a bunch up front. They already see me & my wallet every 6 weeks.  Once Upon A Child hooks me with stamp incentives for paying with cash & bringing my own bag.  Those stamps add up to 15% of my purchase total, a discount which I can really use. Caribou hands out $2.00 off coupons that are valid if you come back & order another drink after 2:00pm when I'm in need of a boost, but feel guilty about spending the extra cash. Get the idea? Foursquare do you care about connecting with me or not?

Reward us where we already live & breathe versus trying to get people to always have to "try some new spot" in order to "play the game". That may have worked on me in my 20's, but not so much now in this stage of life. Watch my behaviors & then approach those businesses I frequent & say "here's your customer, what can we do for them to add value to your relationship & save them money instantly." Don't just say "here businesses come & figure this out for yourselves", or "here, go ahead & build an app".  Own the relationships, grow them & be a real partner.

 "I think use is across the board re: generation, social identity groups, etc." - @cindyelizabeth

That may be true but this is not a one size fits all kind of world we live in.  As a consumer I care about businesses that put me first & care about me & my personal shopping, or the rare entertainment/dining experiences. After all it's my time, my loyalty & my dollars to spend. In this economy, none of us can afford to just give that away.  Foursquare needs to earn my trust, loyalty & respect. 

Should Foursquare just be left to flounder in it's present manifestation? Or perhaps I shouldn't even be curious.  Share your thoughts here.

You might also be interested in this study from @emarketer  ~ Still Waiting on that Mobile Couponing Explosion

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Feeling the Holiday Spirit

There's nothing like a little snow to put you in the holiday spirit. My munchkin has a long list for Santa, but then again, don't we all?!

I've already put a nice dent in my shopping list... usually spotting bargains for gifts already in the Spring. Are you getting prepared now? Or are you of the last minute variety?

 Share your thoughts here.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Starting my Christmas Wish List Now

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finally Friday - The calm before #Snowmageddon in MN

It's Finally Friday & I'm thankful for the strength that I've been blessed with ~ allowing me to get through even the most the difficult of days & nights.  Once again I was drawn into the same early morning sunrise view as was in the Wordless Wednesday - MN November Sunrise post earlier in the month, however it seemed much more vibrant, yet peaceful & calm amid this craziness of the past week dealing with an "under-the-weather" munchkin. We're all surviving.

Soon enough all the die hard Minnesotans will rejoice as we settle into the reality of what November & the Winter months to follow should really look & feel like... no more short sleeves & bare legs, no more Minneapolis Farmer's Market every Thursday on the Nicollet Mall - no more 60 degree surprises, just lots of pure & simple Snowmageddon. 

Careful drivers navigating down slick ice covered streets, guaranteed long commutes, stalled cars, unfortunate drivers who go sliding off into the ditches, early darkness, snow blowers, de-icers & shoveling.  

On the flip side, kids bundled up tight, playing "King of the Hill" on gigantic mountains of plowed snow, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating, plus lots of backyard & neighborhood park pick-up games of hockey, the smells of hot cider and hot chocolate waiting for the kids to come inside & get warmed up.

What's your favorite part of our Minnesota winters?

Saturday #Snowmageddon Update:The snow has arrived!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walking the Fine Line

Today marks the start of my annual stint as a deer hunter's widow.  All though I've been through this drill, for a decade now, every year it sneaks up on me. It's a family tradition that will continue until my husband is too frail to be trusted with a weapon & I anticipate that to be many decades away from now. Pre-marriage & after marriage, but pre-munchkin, I looked forward to this time of year because it always meant a certain opportunity for a girls night out.

Not so much anymore. Our lives have progressed & the majority of my girlfriends are wives & moms.  Sometimes relationships are about compromises between giving your all & giving too much. Were walking a fine line. My hubby's trips up North bring about the same feelings that come when he's away from home on a business trip.  The stress of the day-to-day responsibilities fall squarely on my shoulders.

I become a single parent & hope, perhaps unnecessarily so,  that my normally "reliable" 13 year old vehicle doesn't decide to break down. Honestly, knock on wood, it rarely has.  My needs move to the back burner & all is focused on getting through the work day, then tending to the minute by minute needs of my child with little rest. It's times like these that I shift into a higher gear & find more stamina. "Mommy, play with me" becomes my main agenda item for each day & evening.

Perhaps it's the anticipation of the unknown. I always get through it. My heart goes out to all the truly single parents for whom a whole different level of pressures are navigated.  I'm not sure I could ever do it & yet they do it because it's their only option - there is no other choice at the given point in time. They dig deep & find that extra strength from within and on their own...every day - not just on occasion.

On the one hand, munchkin gets lots of "Mommy & Me" time, but on the other hand, I feel a bit neglected in the process.  As a parent you always want to put your best foot forward, be energized & 100% available for your child.  Every parent also needs a few minutes a day where they can just "time out" & for me that is when my munchkin's finally lights go out.

It's no last few fortune cookies have read:
"Don't lose track of your feelings." - Unknown
"The person closest to you is more important than you realize." - Unknown
"You stand in your own light. make it shine." - Unknown

Life is a constant exercise of juggling priorities. We know that in the end, we'll just find a way to make it all work.  It may mean unplugging for a while & forgetting about what we could be accomplishing if we just has more time. The bright side?! It's daylight savings weekend. We get to roll those clocks back, so this mom will get an extra hour of sleep for sure & that's positively priceless.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:Life On Both Sides of the Working/SAHM Mom Continuum or No Kidding Sherlock?!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - MN November Sunrise

This was the glorious view out of our kitchen area picture window Monday morning - the 1st day of November.  Was afraid the lens wouldn't capture the depth of of the colors or the texture in the clouds, but it did. 

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Not So Wordless Wednesday: Sample the Beauty - Mpls Farmers Market