Localmind  is a service that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on in real-time at places you care about. If you're wondering if you'll able to get a seat at your favorite restaurant, for instance, or if there's only bar seating left, Localmind can tell you. Wonder how long you'll have to wait in line for a latte? Localmind's your go-to app.
Localmind 1.5 went live today in the app store with three of the app's most-requested features --ones that will only help local businesses reach out to potential customers. Localmind users can now answer questions with a photo (and a picture of, say, a delicious pizza can certainly be more enticing than a description of it). They can also add commentary to past questions that weren't directly sent to them, to more fully round out coverage of locations. And users now have the option of revealing their identity, potentially lending more weight to their answers. Since you are able to remain anonymous on Localmind, though, it lacks the stalkerish feel of many social or location-based apps.
I asked Localmind founder Lenny Ratchitsky how this app can benefit small and local business owners. Here is his discussion with me about what he called "the holy trinity" for business owners--acquiring customers; retaining customers; and understanding the customers you have:
Douglas Crets: Does this app do anything to help businesses to acquire customers?
Lenny Ratchitsky: When users ask a question in Localmind, we are able to target an ad incredibly well, right at the point that a user is deciding where to head to. We know the location that the user is interested in, what sort of venue they are interested in, what time of day they are interesting in going there, and most importantly the intent of what they are looking for (i.e., the question they are asking). With those four variables, we will give [small businesses] an incredibly powerful new way to target potential customers in real-time.
How does this help develop new ways to retain customers?
We know a lot about visitors to your business. We know venues that users ask questions about, venues that users answer questions about, and venues that users check in at. We can connect business owners with customers who are clearly interested in the business--either through answering or asking questions about the business, or simply checking-in--and give the business owner the power to bring customers back. Business owners will be able to offer temporal deals, location-based promotions, and in-store real-time offers.
How can an app like this help a business owner to understand their customers better?
Our data allows us to go far beyond basic demographics. We can give business owners data on what questions are most frequent in and around their venue. We can give business owners information on how far away potential customers are when they consider coming to their venue. Most exciting, we can give business owners information on where their customers come from before they visit their venue, and where they go after. We are in the early stages of experimenting with this kind of service, but there are some very exciting opportunities here.
[Image: Flickr user Brent Weichsel]