You’re at a tradeshow, it’s time to close up the booth and head out for dinner and drinks. Maybe catch a Tweetup. Or maybe it’s still several weeks to the tradeshow and you want to schedule a Tweetup. How do you find a good place to meet, or to have dinner and drinks?
Try Yelp. They’re quickly building a reputation as an information provider that offers reviews of businesses – from people that have patronized the business. From Yelp’s website: “Yelp allows consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers. Simply put, it’s word of mouth–amplified.”
Word of mouth – amplified.
This works from two directions: if you have a business that’s near a convention center, you’d better be listed on Yelp. If not, it takes a few moments to set up an account.
If you’re a small business, you’d better be looking at building a customer community program this year. Starting building an email (and SMS) list so you can offer specials and promotions to those customers. If you’re at a tradeshow or convention, Yelp is a great resource: on a recent vacation I used Yelp to track down a number of restaurants that I never would have otherwise found. All were worthwhile – some more than others – but each Yelp review gave insight into other customers’ experiences and thoughts.
Of course, Yelp can be a double-edged sword if you’re a small business. Treat a customer badly and you might create a firestorm of negativity – deserved or not. With new location-based and customer-review services popping up, it’s going to be a harder line for businesses to walk.
Besides Yelp, your business should be visible and listed on Google Maps and Facebook. Consider looking at newer and not-so-well-known platforms such as FireEagle, Loopt, Gowalla, or Rummble or any of another hundred or more LBS-services.
With more and more people going mobile, the niche-oriented businesses such as Foursquare and Yelp will become bigger and bigger players. Not only can you use them to connect with people, find a great restaurant or coffee shop or tire store, as a business you’ll find a competitive advantage by being first to be found by that small but growing number of people using the services.