Category Archives: Coupons

Word-of-Mouth primary driver of local business

#VT – Need a recommendation for a plumber?  Best burrito in town?  Slate roof repair?  People turn to Front Porch Forum again and again in our coverage area.  Now a new study offers some insight (below).  People use FPF to get a recommendation from a neighbor, to read reviews in the archives, and to see the ads from our local sponsors.  FPF is word-of-mouth accelerator for local businesses.

A new Street Fight poll finds that even with a slew of new locally targeted marketing platforms at local merchants’ disposal, word-of-mouth is still a primary driver of local consumer behavior.

The poll of 500 U.S. consumers found that 43% of consumers are most likely to shop or dine at a local business after a recommendation from a friend or colleague. 30% are primarily motivated by daily deals, 15% after seeing a locally or behaviorally targeted advertisement, and 12% after reading a positive review about the merchant online. The poll was conducted on behalf of Street Fight by third-party opinions platform Toluna QuickSurveys.

Are you more likely to shop at a local business after…

Save Money on Telecom through FPF

We’re proud to announce a new set of telecom specials made available to eligible Burlington Front Porch Forum members via Burlington Telecom.  If you live in Burlington in an area served by Burlington Telecom and are interested in top-of-the-line internet/cable TV/telephone service options, please check this out.  Also, existing BT subscribers can get special discounts via FPF on various upgrades.

As a recent FPF member said… “I can think of no reason not to sign up with Burlington Telecom as soon as possible… and now it’s even cheaper through Front Porch Forum.”

Every person who mentions Front Porch Forum when signing up or upgrading with BT will get their special deal and will earn a referral fee for FPF that will help keep our community-building service free of charge.

Hate online ads? How much?

Mike Vorhaus blogged today at Advertising Age…

Consumers might “hate ads,” but not enough to pay even as little as a few cents a day to avoid them.

He reported on a survey…

When we asked consumers if they would pay $39.99 a year, which comes out to less than $4 a month, for an ad-free version of one of their favorite sites, only 2.4% said definitely yes, they would be likely to do so. And only 3.5% said they’d be very likely. In fact, 84% of the people said they’d be unlikely or not at all likely.

At the lower price of $29.99 a year, or less than $3 a month, only another 1.9% of consumers said they would be very likely to pay for an ad-free version.

Mega Local Sites in the News

CitySquares in Boston and beyond says business is good with advertisers’ coupons being hot.

Citysearch rebuilt its site. “Elements of the revamp include a more intuitive interface, an embrace of social media, a major focus on video, some new twists in mobile, and the development of a full-fledged local ad and content network that offers an alternative to Google’s dominant position.” Local Onliner

Service Magic is doing very well, despite the general economic conditions.  Co-founder Rodney Rice’s “6 Keys to Success in Local Services” via Andrew Shotland:

  1. Build supply before demand
  2. Choose the right vertical focus/right branding
  3. Execute as a service business, not a dot com (too true)
  4. Control customer acquisition costs – apply real business metrics
  5. Utilize technologies that make sense now – not in 3, 5 or 10 years
  6. Focus on yourself, not the competition (the best advice ever)

Angie’s List took in more VC money recently, bringing it’s total raised to about $66 million.  And Shotland reports Angie Hicks saying “The biggest competitor in the space is ‘your next door neighbor.’”  Interesting.  In this light, Angie’s List offers another way to buy your way out of something you just can’t find the time to do… get to know the neighbors and have conversations with them.  Front Porch Forum, on the other hand, is free and uses things like plumber recommendations among clearly identified nearby neighbors as a way to help connect neighbors and lead toward more vital communities.

And again from Shotland

The thing I love the most about both Angie’s and Rodney’s talks is that they are both very much outside the local search/Silicon Valley community in some ways (well Angie did raise a bunch of $ from VCs and Rodney did sell out to IAC, but besides that), but they are both incredibly successful.

Sweet Clover Market and FPF

Thanks to Heather Belcher at Sweet Clover Market in the Essex Shoppes for running this bit in her e-newsletter…

As summer winds down and fall comes blowing down from the hills, people also tend to see more of their neighbors… at least until the snow starts flying. What a great time to sign up for Front Porch Forum. Have you heard of it yet? It’s free, it was invented locally, it’s informative and fun. Clearly identified nearby neighbors connect over lost dogs, plumber recommendations, block parties, car break-ins, firewood sources, and lots more. I live in Westford, and receiving emails through the Front Porch Forum definitely makes me feel more connected and informed about what my neighbors do at work and at home, what they value and how they play! You probably shop at Sweet Clover Market because you value relationships…with your farmer, with your butcher, with your grocer. Front Porch Forum is a terrific way to enhance your relationship with your neighbors…sign up today!

Heather’s grocery store is one of more than 75 local businesses reaching into thousands of Chittenden County inboxes via FPF advertising.

Smalltown.com explains itself

A detailed posting about Smalltown.com‘s status today including its acquisition of Local2me.com… worth a read (comments too for a little fun).

While I’m uncertain if Smalltown’s approach has enough juice to keep people tuned in (it’s a souped up yellow pages with some social networking running through it), I am fascinated by their authentically local approach… town by town growth with real people on the ground.

Smalltown.com Update

Congratulations to Smalltown.com… it launched its seventh small town website today.  Some lessons

Smalltown, San Carlos went live today. This is our seventh Smalltown site; we continue to make our way down the Peninsula from Millbrae to Palo Alto as planned. The most interesting detail regarding San Carlos is that we built the new site and pre-loaded it with content in only two weeks. Our very first town, Burlingame, which is about the same size as San Carlos, took four times as many person-hours to prepare. We’re figuring out how to launch new towns in much less time for much less money.

Our ability to launch a new town efficiently will be very important when we start to expand to hundreds of towns. We’re speeding up the process in three ways.

1. We’re learning that “Halo Towns” are easier to launch than “Virgin Towns”. Burlingame was a virgin town because it was first. There weren’t any adjacent Smalltown Sites. On the other hand, San Carlos borders several towns that already have Smalltown sites.

2. We’re happy if 85% of the content is updated and accurate. The last 15% is just too time consuming to track down and correct… Unlike most directory information databases, the longer a Smalltown site is around, the more accurate its data becomes.

3. Our processes are getting better. We’ve had time to try out several variations of walking down streets with a camera and a clipboard, and the current process is much faster and more accurate.

Hindsight for Judy’s Book

Greg Sterling got more lessons learned by Andy Sack around Judy’s Book demise…

Sack added that if he had to do it over he’d:

  • Launch in a single market and gain critical mass before going national
  • Launch with a narrow content focus: one category or just a few rather than trying to be comprehensive immediately
  • Try to get into the “deal flow” of local (think travel or OpenTable) and local ad spending
  • Have a long time horizon and tempered expectations accordingly

Online Coupons?

Front Porch Forum has a new modest advertising platform for local businesses.  The response is exceeding expectations.  Our ad inventory is sold out for the next several weeks and the response from our members to the sponsor messages has been strong.  Color me cautiously optimistic.

Also, we’ve seen some advertisers offer discounts to Front Porch Forum members and others are considering some kind of coupon option.  So today’s posting by Greg Sterling is of interest…

Even though online coupons have been around for years, there’s really still no leader in the segment — quite mysteriously. Also the overwhelming majority of coupons are still clipped from physical newspapers and direct mail envelopes, such as ValPak’s blue envelope. But one gets the sense that the stars have finally aligned and online (and later some version of mobile) coupons will start to take off.

To that end, I previously forecast that the total face value of online coupons will be just over $16 billion in 2010 and the redeemed value of those coupons will be about $2.4 billion. (That may be too aggressive, but we’ll see; it depends on distribution and consumer awareness.)

And he goes on to write about AskCity’s efforts in this area.