Location Services

One type of online or app-based marketing and promotion that may or may not be practical for your home-based business is what are known as “location services,” a catchall term for several different types of mobile device apps that use the geographical location of the device to identify businesses nearby, typically grouped by category. For most home businesses, these kinds of apps are not entirely relevant, but we feel you should have a passing familiarity with at least some of them.

Yelp! is a website and complementary smartphone app that functions as a combination local directory and user review site. Not only does it let users find businesses by ZIP code or by using the location of the mobile device, it also lets users add reviews. Yelp! also lets users check in at locations, tell friends where they are, and add comments. Perhaps most helpful for finding restaurants, bars, drug stores, gas stations, and other such places when traveling, it can also function as the Yellow Pages once did. AroundMe is another app that works in a similar way (actually AroundMe was the first app to use Google’s location-aware API). There is also Google Maps of course, which, if you zoom in close enough, shows local businesses. Again, unless you have a retail location, that may not be entirely relevant.

Foursquare is another app that determines the user’s geographic location and suggests nearby businesses. Users can upload reviews or tips concerning that business. Foursquare used to have a “check-in” feature, but spun that off into a separate app called Swarm. (Facebook has a similar feature.) Some businesses have run Foursquare-centric promotions, and the company offers various options for businesses. Truthfully, through, most individuals and businesses stick to Facebook these days, for better or worse.

If you are a service-based business—like a writer, designer, photographer, etc.—and don’t have a physical location (or at least not one that you want people showing up at) you can still be listed on these services. If you search “freelance designer” on Yelp!, for example, you will get listings (and reviews). So these kinds of location service apps may not be entirely irrelevant.