Little Biz, Big Buzz
For smaller operations in which employees are already filling multiple roles and every penny is pretty much spoken for, staying on top of social media can be next to impossible.
That’s a dilemma that Fanminder, based in Los Altos, Calif., hopes to solve. Fanminder, which launched in 2010, allows merchants and other small businesses to send instant promotions to their customers’ mobile phones, social networking pages and e-mail accounts.
“We wanted to build the leading company completely dedicated to helping small businesses win with social and mobile marketing,” says co-founder and CEO Paul Rosenfeld. “Fanminder helps the small business easily and affordably create and publish what we call ‘instant promotions’ that reach their fans anywhere.”
The company currently works with about 1,400 small businesses and has launched some 5,000 campaigns to date, says co-founder and COO Tracy Grover. Fanminder offers a “turnkey” operation that typically takes just a few minutes to set up and costs about $40 to $60 per month, she says, though the cost can rise to $150 monthly for companies with more than 400 mobile fans.
To get started, the merchant heads to the Fanminder homepage and provides basic information like the company name and time zone. The next step is creating an offer — say, “Buy one, get one free if you come in during the next seven days” — that can be published on the retailer’s website or social media page.
Next is letting customers know they can access the offer via their phones. For instance, the offer might say, “Enter your cell phone number here and receive a text message good for a free product.” The merchant also can upload artwork like the company’s logo or a map to the store.
Giordano’s, a pizza chain with more than 50 locations in Illinois and Florida, included a “Grab Coupon to Phone” button within customer e-mails. Readers could click the button and enter their mobile phone numbers into the website. Just seconds later, they received a text message offering a free small pizza with the purchase of an extra large one for the next 30 days. Customers redeemed the coupon by showing the message to the sales associate.
Along with advertising the promotion via the web, merchants can print (or order from Fanminder) paper signs, table tents and posters to market within their physical locations. In addition, once customers have given their okay, the merchant can send them text messages with different offers and promotions.
Worried that only teens are interested in text messages? About 85 percent of adults now have cell phones, and nearly three-quarters of them send or receive text messages, according to the Pew Research Center.
Anyone who has spent much time online should be able to follow the sequence of steps to create promotions and offers. “It’s designed for the lay person,” Rosenfeld says.
No integration to the merchant’s POS system is required, he says. In addition, each coupon has a code that’s unique and good only for a one-time use, greatly reducing the risk of fraudulent transactions.
Fanminder also provides technical tools that allow merchants to track the results of their marketing campaigns. At Giordano’s, more than 500 fans “grabbed” the promotion, and 24 customers had used the offer, within four days. Within four months, Fanminder helped Giordano’s generate more than $15,000 in incremental revenue.