Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing?

The year: 2016

The scene: a busy tradeshow floor in Chicago


The situation: almost half of the exhibitors at the show are welcoming visitors to the show, who are ‘checking in’ via Foursquare (or some similar app – who’s to know what will survive that long). After then check in at the booth, they’re rewarded with a couple of spiffs. Maybe a free download just for show visitors, a store discount, or a chance to win something cool. Maybe they get a free one-on-one with the CEO. Doesn’t matter, could be anything of value. By checking in, they also automatically are asked if they want to opt-in to receiving special offers via text message or old-fashioned e-mail.

When visitors check the stats in Foursquare they see that hundreds of visitors have also checked in at the booth, as well as many others. There’s a thriving online community of people who are also connecting face-to-face thanks to location-based-marketing apps. It could be Facebook, could be Foursquare or any other of the LBS (location based services) apps that are thriving in the new, increasingly connected world. With the deep personal profiling that has grown in the past few years, it’s easy to connect with people who are interested in the same things, or have certain characteristics in common, such as location, similar job titles, or even off-job interests like golf or skiing. Meetings are arranged either by users or companies who have an interest in bringing these small groups together. Kind of like a Tweetup on steroids.

The scene is not that far from reality. Location based marketing is exploding. Mobile marketing is right behind. Some people are already starting to use the mobile and GPS tools to great effect. Sarah Perez writes on Read Write Web that the key to success for your location-base app is to find a way to reward people for their activities. So what’s your reward?

Indeed. Give something of value to a group of people that are hungry for that item and you’ve started opening the door to a new client-customer relationship.

While Lopez refers to a recent study by Forrester Research that shows ‘only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based apps such as these, and only 1% out of those that use them do so more than once per week’ – just think back to the middle part of the last decade where people were just getting excited about podcasting and blogging, both of which are now well established. Web 2.0 was the new buzz. Since 2005, the incredible growth of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has been the focus of countless media spotlights.

The world is going mobile, and GPS-related services and location-based marketing is poised to take off big time. There’s huge potential there for the masses. And even now, as the Forrester research points out, the current small group of users of Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, MyTown, Brightkite are all very influential. People look to them for opinions and leadership. Friend ask what they’re up to and who’d they buy from.

It may not be the time to jump into location-based marketing quite yet for a tradeshow, but if you did you would not be too far ahead of anyone.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: abulhussain

  • Heidi Thorne ,

    Great article, Tim! I do think Foursquare and other location-based apps are going to be the killer apps of the future.

    Have you checked out WeReward? It’s developed by the folks who do Sponsored Tweets. Pays cash for checking in. I’m using it on my iPhone. I’ve had it crash a number of times when using. But it is awesome! Check it out at

    • Tweets that mention Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing? | Tradeshow Guy Blog -- ,

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      • MeetingsIn ,

        I agree that Foursquare and similar apps will be the future of tradeshow marketing. I think it’s already making appearances in breakout sessions and will carry over into the main show!

        Keep up the good articles!

        • Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing? « Expopedia ,

          […] the show, who are ‘checking in’ via Foursquare (or some similar app – who’s to know … Continue reading … Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)How to Find the Right Tradeshow for Your […]

          • Drew Hawkins ,

            Good article. I’ve actually mentioned the same thing before on my blog about using check-ins for tradeshows. One thing that will help this actually take off and have “stickiness” is the interactive and incentive element. Give people a reason to check in and do more than just get the incentive. There has to be an extra level of participation.

            One location service that has good interactivity is SCVNGR. One could set up tasks at a booth to complete. Once the tasks are all done (say talk to this person, take a pic with this sample product etc) they would get an incentive. Would make for more genuine lead generation than just swiping a badge
            .-= Drew Hawkins´s last blog ..Social Gaming and Employee Incentives =-.

            • EFilmStudio ,

              I also agree. We registered our activation at Comic Con and had more event pictures taken than ever before. People check-in saying how much they loved getting their picture taken with Optimus Prime and HubTv booth.

              I think when Foursquare allows brands to design their own badges in an easier format, the amount of traffic will only increase. One of the reasons that Facebook works so well is that their social media works hand in hand with third party developers and game applications.

              Lets face it, people like receiving free stuff. Whether its a simple graphic symbol that they call a badge, a discount coupon offer, or just a shout out – it draws people and crowds. Make it viral and you can almost program an entire event around a LBS. Nike ran a great campaign with the Koi Fusion food truck in LA where people who check-in with Facebook Places and used the key phrase got a custom free Nike Jacket.

              • Tim Patterson ,

                Thanks Drew – I’ll make a point to check out SCVNGR. To me, the whole LBS marketing thing is in its infancy and will at some point explode – like so many other social media platforms the past few years.

                • Gamify Your Next Virtual Event « INXPO ,

                  […] Tim Patterson wrote a posting on his Tradeshow Guy Blog titled “Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing?” I believe that Foursquare, along with other location based applications (e.g. Gowalla, […]

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