Looking for an alternative to the Sunday paper for coupons? eCoupons (www.ecoupons.com) in Los Altos, California, runs a site which offers discounts on products and services via coupons that consumers select and print.
"When we built the site, we were looking at it from the perspective of small businesses," says founder and CEO Tom Ball, 32. "The ZIP-code-driven database allows businesses to target customers in specific locations or across the country."
The coupons are scam-proofed using a proprietary coding system, which is explained to advertisers so they can train their staffs. Ball estimates that for as little as $1 per day, a business can have a presence on his site. The redemption rate for eCoupons varies from 10 to 24 percent, compared to 1.8 percent for a traditional print coupon, so the option is working.
eCoupons credits its success to strong relationships with merchant partners and consumers' interest. According to Ball, "[Consumers] are providing more information than we thought, because they want us to help save them money."
Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associates, a public relations and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey. She is currently completing a marketing workbook titled Promote Your Business. E-mail her at email@example.com.