HarperCollins Canada has started testing a digital and print geo-targeted marketing campaign that will reach consumers in cities and small towns across Canada with messages specific to their location.

John Catucci’s You Gotta Eat Here!—a guide to local eatery gems across Canada—is the perfect book for this kind of campaign, said Cory Beatty, director of marketing for HarperCollins Canada. The title features 74 restaurants across the country, many of which are in smaller towns, not just the big urban centers of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. “Our challenge wasn’t just getting media, but [figuring out] how to market to the people who can make that connection to the restaurants featured in the book,” Beatty explained.

Social media is central in the campaign, which coincides with HarperCollins Canada’s announcement that it now has 100,000 Facebook fans. “Our social media profile has grown to the point where we could really make a lot of noise about [the campaign],” said Beatty, who adds that the house had been looking for the right opportunity to try geo-targeted marketing.

HarperCollins’s Facebook fans will get messages, photos, and links specific to their region only, and the digital marketing team is using Foursquare to send even more geographically specific messages to smartphone users. About 20 of the restaurants featured in the book have partnered with HarperCollins, and when Foursquare users “check in,” or input their location, a GPS system will allow the publisher to send a message about any of the featured restaurants nearby. “If you have a smartphone and you go into the Armview Restaurant in Halifax and check in, you’ll get a note from HarperCollins that says, ‘Hi, try the milkshake at the Armview and you could receive a free one with your meal,’ ” Beatty said. Those users will receive a note about the book as well.

All of the restaurants supporting the campaign will be using Twitter and Instagram to promote the book, using the hashtag #YGEHbook, Beatty added. In addition to promoting the book, messages will feature dining recommendations and special offers at specific restaurants. “Readers or patrons of those restaurants who contribute to that hashtag will be getting messages back from us, getting messages from the restaurant, even being eligible to win free copies of the book,” Beatty said.

Back in the physical realm, there is more promotion. HarperCollins has booked ads in newspapers in several cities. All of the featured restaurants have received a few copies of the book to give away, and some of them will be selling the book. The entire campaign is running through mid-December.

Catucci is also an ideal type of author for this kind of project. The actor and comedian is the host of the television show You Gotta Eat Here! on the Food Network Canada. Senior publicist Maylene Loveland said Catucci is now filming the show’s second season and will be stopping in at some of the featured restaurants. “He’s so active on Twitter, he’s responding to everybody all the time,” she said. “One of the things that is most interesting about his TV show and John himself is that they continually ask their viewers where to go, so it is already a really collaborative TV show with the fans.... They’ll say, ‘Hey, we’re going to Calgary on this date, where should we eat?’ ”

Beatty explained why HarperCollins wanted to do this experiment. “Most publishers will take out a full-page ad that they hope will reach the national audience, and they’re kind of generic in their messaging because you can’t really write something specific for Vancouver and have it play well in Halifax. But with this, we’re able to take the same book and make the messages specific so each potential reader feels that they can own a piece of it and it speaks to them directly.”