Aska Lokal

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New word-of-mouth referral app

Gillian Hill
Emma Thompson

Boise is renowned for its friendly atmosphere and locals who are happy to share their love of this community. When tourists or business travelers are in town, all they need to do is ask a local, and they’ll find out about a great restaurant, a fun bar, or the best place to go for a run the next morning.

Mike Gibson has watched these strong community links and been frustrated that businesses don’t know who their Unknown VIPs are. “If a hotel front desk clerk is recommending Bodovino a handful of times each shift, those recommendations really add up. If you are the Bodovino manager, wouldn’t you love to know who is providing the value to your business, and thank them?”

And so Gibson set out to do just that. Aska, the word of mouth referral app, has just launched and Boise businesses are looking forward to thanking those Unknown VIPS. Aska connects users who want to recommend their favorite businesses, with customers who are looking to try somewhere new. The customer will be given a special offer and the user will reap the reward too, with discounts or benefits after a number of referrals have been made, similar to a punch card you might get at a coffee shop to reward your loyalty after you’ve bought your 5th brew.

Gibson told me that when he was interviewing local businesses to get a feel for how he could strengthen these community ties between businesses and their loyal followers, he spoke to a restaurant manager downtown who immediately got it. The manager told Gibson that over the period of 3 or 4 months, at least 70 people had come in who had been told about the place by ‘the car rental guy at the airport’. The manager would have loved to show some appreciation for all those referrals, but never found out who had been providing them.

Unlike other national review websites, Aska’s number one priority is the community, and if he can find ways to strengthen the businesses within that community, and their links with their customers, then everyone in the community wins. Aska’s focus is on locally owned businesses in the Treasure Valley. Research suggests that for every $100 spent, $68 will stay in the community if it’s spent in a locally owned business, as opposed to $43 spent at a national chain. For Gibson, that’s reason enough to develop ways to encourage a community to support its local businesses.

The app allows you to recommend almost any business or other type of service in the Treasure Valley. As well as the more common options like bars and restaurants, Gibson has added categories for places of interest and local non-profits. “After talking to not-for-profit owners, I can really see the value they provide to our community. So we’re not charging to add non-profits to the app.”

One of the many bonuses of referring through the app is the safety of not having to pass on your information by texting details to someone you’ve just met. The app will send a link to the customer directly, and the user who refers can add a note if they wish. “My wife loves an off-menu drink at a bar downtown and is always telling people about it. Now she can send a note with the referral, with the name of the drink so they can order it if they go in.”

Local businesses can find paid advertising frustrating, not knowing what local ads might be working  and what one’s aren’t. “As the app is used over time, we’ll be able to provide data to businesses on where their referrals are coming from, and when. This could be amazing business intelligence to help them identify their most common sources of referrals, and focus advertising on the places that really provide value. “Aska is like an online version of the bundle of business cards you pick up at an in-person networking event, be that a regular breakfast or a one off event. With the app, they are all available digitally in one place, which makes it easy to find them or to refer them on to someone else.”

If you are a local business supporter, download the Aska app for free, select your favorite local businesses and start referring today. If you’re a local business owner, go to https://www.askalokal.com/business and create your customer referral program. If you’re a local non-profit, reach out to info@askalokal.com to be included on the app for free.

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