Q&A with John Vajda of Untappd

John Vajda - LBS and craft beer lover.

In this month’s quest to pull back the covers on Location Based Services, I was lucky enough to score an interview with John Vajda, Product Manager at Untappd, a social network for beer enthusiasts (I’m here on Untappd so friend up!)

What I like about how Untappd uses LBS is location is part of the offering, not the focus. The app serves a specific market segment (craft beer lovers) and lets them discover, rate and share there favorite brews but you don’t have to check into a location if you don’t want to.

10 LBS Questions with John Vajda

1. What is the most important thing Marketers should know about LBS?

Not all platforms are created equal and you really need to understand your users to know what they use. Measure their usage, poll them, engage them  regarding the apps they use.  Don’t assume Foursquare specials will work if you are in the middle of a strip mall where people need to drive to get to your location.

2. What does it take to execute a LBS strategy correctly?

Treat it like any other marketing campaign. Develop a strategy come up with metrics and objectives you wish to meet, and track yourself to validate you’ve made those goals. Adapt where needed. Create – measure – learn.  And PLEASE don’t just throw an intern at it.

[important]Create –> Measure –> Learn[/important]

3. What are the common mistakes LBS early adopters have made?

Not training their staff on the redemption process. I call it point of sale, point of failure. Nothing is worse than earning a reward and walking into a location where a cashier stares at you like you have 2 heads when you show them the redemption screen on an LBS application.

4. What are the best practices for integrating LBS into a multi-channel campaign?

Remember it’s an extension of the overall promotion, it’s not the single source of truth. It’s one of many avenues you should explore on a campaign and should always be tied back to to overall marketing goals of the program. LBS is new so make sure to give it some room to adapt and grow over time, experiment a little and don’t be afraid to fail a few times.

5. Examples of brands using LBS well?

  • Disney and Gowalla
  • 7/11 and Foursquare
  • Universities and SCVNGR
  • SCVNGR and their Diamond dash promo
  • AMEX and Foursquare

6. Daily deal sites or LBS check-in – which do you invest marketing resources in and why?

It depends on your users/customers. What do they use? What do they like? Go where they are. Don’t assume too much on what your users/customers are willing to adapt to.

7. A recent Pew study provided information on LBS usage providing adequate fodder for LBS proponents and nay-sayers. What do you make of it?

As LBS services become more mainstream and technology allow us to use the services more passively we’ll see higher adoption rates. I am not too concerned by the reports of the lower overall usage of LBS apps since it’s still a relatively new space. However, I am concerned about how we will engage users in more suburban areas, LBS seems to be a very city-centric function. The big question to me is how can we engage soccer Moms and Dads in middle America? How do we make it worth their while to use a Foursquare or a SCVNGR or an Untappd LBS app?

8. What’s your go-to app (if you don’t mind sharing)?

Foursquare and Untappd of course!  I check into Foursquare everyday, and Untappd everytime I have a beer. (which is almost everyday)

9. What does the future hold for LBS?
Forecasting and customizable deals! I think it will be all about what you WILL be doing and how you can be enticed to do something else via a customizable offer. What if you Forecasted you’d be going to one bar for a particular beer and bars around you see that, they can then customize a deal for you and offer you the lowest price on that beer. I can see big box retailers creating Wall Mart-esque falling prices real time to meet customer forecasts.  Check out Foreca.st for more on this concept.

10What’s in your Untappd Wish List?

Go see for yourself => http://untappd.com/user/genexerjv/wishlist

John Vajda is Product Manager at Untappd and loves LBS almost as much as he loves craft beer. Untappd is a social network for beer enthusiasts and has an  HTML5 mobile web app, iPhone native App and Android native App that allows you to share what beer you are drinking and where with your friends. You can also upload photos of your brews as well as rate and receive recommendations on what you should try next.

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