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I touched on geolocation and LBS (location-based services) earlier this year just as it was breaking into the mainstream.

Gowalla, Foursquare, BrightKite, Whrrl, Scvngr and now even Facebook’s Places (see my less than stellar impression of this) are among the tech companies driving this wildly popular bandwagon.

There have been clear and useful leverage of LBS for B2C strategies both for large, enterprise-driven brands as well as small businesses as covered by a story in the New York Times.

To date, successful B2C efforts focus on reinforcing brand loyalty and increasing client base through active, frequent participation via check-ins and obtaining rewards in the form of discounts, give-aways, coupon redemptions etc.

As Foursquare demonstates adeptly, a game-oriented element is characteristic of LBS apps. This automatically serves as incentive for users (customers/prospects) imprinting a behaviour that becomes a natural day-to-day activity.

Smart, huh?

But how might one imagine applying these principles to a B2B model? Below are some thoughts that may give you reason to try it out—all of which involve embedding an LBS layer to events.

  1. Improve attendance / enhance participation: In addition to confirming attendance (typical email invite), have them check-in to the venue (your corporate office, a conference hall etc) and award swag or a complimentary product or 1/2-hour consultation service to the company with most check-ins (i.e., most number of attendees).

    Granted, the numbers may not necessarily be in the thousands. But this is why I think LBS use for B2B will need to be very targeted (i.e., done thoughtfully to events where active client participation is a key component such as an unconference, trade show or special event where there is more emphasis on networking than talking heads blasting content at participants).

  2. Extend brand visibility – complement your corporate blogging initiatives by posting a special event that centers around promoting a book launch by one of your authors or a product launch/refresh.

    Wanna get really creative? Announce a photo essay contest around the book/product launch on your blog and have attendees capture photos, provide commentary on their experience of the event itself (yes, this would be an indirect plug for @Gowalla and yes, it’s my preferred LBS app). And then do a follow-up post on the winner along with all other entries and feedback you received.

  3. Showcase CSR campaigns – in a similar vein as #2, imagine a community outreach campaign where you’d rally up volunteers—both from your internal employee community and the external public community—and get them to check-in at the event and have a scavenger hunt, photo contest, etc. Again, using a similar follow up process as #2.
  4. Internal employee engagement see #3 but use within the context of an internal culture shaping activity or morale-boosting exercise like a day long company-wide summer event or even regular get-togethers that encourage interaction, socializing and team-building.
  5. Brand distinction (AR component) if your org is really keen and want to push the envelope, why not consider making available an augmented reality (AR) element to an event (see Exhibitor Booths section – it’s an old post but one of the few that comes close to B2B application). But imagine if attendees had the advantage of knowing your booth is AR-ready: Innovate. Differentiate. Leave a lasting impression.

There’s only one thing: so far, most LBS apps appear to be mainly developed for (and the user experience conducive to) touch screen devices like iPhone, Android. A February post from ReadWriteWeb confirms this.

But perhaps these figures have since changed. And while RIM is the dominant enterprise tool, perhaps the majority of your B2B target audience prefer the “best of both worlds” and are looking for opportunities to explore and learn from location-based technology as well.

What do you think? Is LBS purely consumer-based and oriented to enhance the brand power of physical products?

Earlier in March another ReadWriteWeb article suggests LBS usage to penetrate enterprise within two years.

So I tweeted the question today and asked if anyone else has had specific success in this area. All I got: crickets.

Have you tried any of the above? What has your experience been? What else would you add to this list? How straightforward would it be to execute and measure? Lemme know.

images sourced from justanotherapp.com and fastcompany.com respectively

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