People say tech startups have to eat their own dog food (meaning use their own services) but the widespread confusion concerning the value of location check-in apps like Foursquare could be eliminated by dog food as well. Specifically, by dogs eating dog food when their owners check-in at food dispensing marketing displays. It's just an example, but it's a really good one!

Check out the video below of a German pet food company's marketing idea. Dog owners who check in on Foursquare at a dog food display in their town will see the display release a free sample of the food. Then their dog will eat it, their social network contacts will see that they have engaged with said brand and the dog will pull on its leash when anywhere within blocks of the display in the future. "Please go check in at that dog food place!" your dog will say. Minus (or not) the dog, I can imagine a relatively simple system like this being applied to humans as well. Check in and a free sample is automatically dispensed. It's a great idea.

Personally, I don't need beef kibbles to check in but it's clear that many people do need some immediate reward to motivate them to participate. Give me "check in and we'll educate you about the history of the place you're at" and I'd be happy. I might even sit up on my back legs and shake hands.

To tell the truth, my dogs are so food obsessed that I'd never be foolish enough to let them learn they could get food dispensed from a place like this. They would never be willing to walk anywhere else. I do like the idea though.

Video found via PSFK via Mashable via Creativity Online.