Location-based applications on mobile devices are all the rage. You might have already seen some hints of what local will do for you by using Google Local, but rest assured that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you realize that more and more people are using smartphones, and that more and more people are searching for your business while mobile, you're going to have to shift some attention into how you show up in the location-aware world.
Get a Smart Phone
If at all possible, pick up an iPhone or a Motorola Droid or a Google Nexus 1 or a Palm Pre, or any of the other smart phones with a robust number of applications available. The applications you're looking to start exploring are Yelp, Layar, Foursquare, Twitter, and BrightKite to start. They each do something different. The point of this article isn't to talk about the apps. You can learn about those. My point is: get in the game. Without a sense of how others use these tools and see your business, you won't know how to prepare, and you won't have a tool to participate. It's part of business.
Start Creating Content
Start at Google Local and make sure you even show up there. If you do, consider writing a review. It's not clear whether these reviews go as far as a service like Yelp, but it doesn't hurt. Use FourSquare to create a location for your place. Check in via BrightKite. Tweet about the location. If you haven't built a Facebook Fan page for the business, decide whether that's a place you want to create and maintain. If so, make sure to include the physical address of the place, plus the name. If you have a blog or simple website, also make sure your street address is clear and obvious on the main page, as well. Part of getting local search to work is to anchor your web presence to your real-world presence.
Use a Listening Station and Comment Back
First, grow bigger ears, and use this to set up a free listening station. Then, when you see people talking about your business, make sure to comment back where appropriate, and mention also the location of your business (again, if it's appropriate). I mention listening a lot. The reason is that it's the most important part of marketing that you're not yet doing. (Well, lots of us, anyhow.) This step lets you be proactive in hearing if people are talking about you and being able to get location-specific in your responses.
Drive Location-Aware Contests
You can use Foursquare or BrightKite or even Twitter to start having more location-aware contests. For example, do something like "the person who checks in five times to your location in the next 10 days will get a free ______." There can be obvious variations, but that's a simple one to get your thoughts going.
What comes next is simply a matter of whether people searching for you on their mobile devices are finding you easily or not. The plus is that all you've done by performing the above efforts will positively affect people's search results, no matter what. The only minus is a matter of how long it takes people to respond more often to location-based marketing than to other forms, and whether they're finding the same results as you've set forth.
In any case, what you've accomplished by performing the above is effort well spent in helping people find your business.