Written by: Leroy Jenkins
If you live in, or frequent, the “Red Stick,” chances are you’ve noticed the StreetcarShops.com vibrant billboards on Bluebonnet, or even opened your mailbox to discover a personalized booklet of reward cards for your redeeming pleasure. Custom-painted by award-winning artist Terrance Osborne, the StreetcarShops.com artwork embodies the company’s mantra, “We Take You There,” encouraging you to live locally and support your city’s economy. And there’s no better encouragement than incentive.
StreetcarShops.com is a user-exclusive website that offers unlimited access to reward card offers available in your city; and you can find rewards for just about anything; sweet deals for your favorite restaurants, discounts on vet check-ups for your pet, and even gift cards for taking the time to test drive a new BMW. They’ve got everything, and the site even empowers you to share these rewards with your friends and family through the familiar portals of email and Facebook.
Once StreetcarShops.com has enough offers in a given city, they will start mailing out keepsake reward card booklets to you every three months. And if you’re wondering how to get your hands on one of these babies, it’s simple. Just sign up online, and you’ll be on the list to receive your very own booklet as soon as it’s available.
StreetcarShops.com mails over 25,000 booklets each quarter, and will also send them to nonmembers, based on certain demographic criteria; but if you really want to ensure you receive a book, it’s best to sign up. Whatever you do, don’t wait around your mailbox. All of the current offers are always available online for you to print anytime, as many times as you like, so you can start using your rewards right away.
If you’re bracing yourself for the proverbial “catch,” don’t hold your breath, because there isn’t one. StreetcarShops.com is completely free to consumers; no credit cards, commitments, or fine print-laden contracts to haunt you later on. The intrinsic idea behind StreetcarShops.com revolves around local living; creating and fostering a symbiotic relationship between retailers and consumers. The key for advertisers is to devise an offer that will attract new customers, as well as reward existing patrons for their loyalty, all without haphazardly giving away merchandise simply for a chance to make a sale. This mutually beneficial arrangement is why StreetcarShops.com advertisers allow, and even welcome, repeat redemption of their offers. Everybody wins.
The obvious competitors are the popular “50% off Deals of the Day,” but when comparing StreetcarShops.com to the myriad of these websites, it becomes increasingly clear that local businesses don’t need to sell the farm to attract business. Many of the restaurants and retailers who advertise with StreetcarShops.com have experienced excellent responses and above average redemption rates, all without needing to give a 50 to 90 percent discount to hundreds of customers who may never come back. If you ask founder Roger Smith (and any economics expert), he’ll contend, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
StreetcarShops.com has released several reward card booklets in Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish and currently hosts a slew of online offers for Shreveport, New Orleans, and the Northshore, with plans to mail booklets in these areas later this year. Plans are also in place to build more StreetcarShops.com “tracks” across Louisiana and beyond, as well as unveil some new applications and exciting web updates to help you live locally and reward yourself when you do.
I spoke with Roger Smith, the founder of StreetcarShops.com, to find out more about his “hybrid marketing” methods and plans for the future.
What gave you the idea for StreetcarShops.com?
I knew there was a need. There is a huge, gaping hole for local businesses trying to target their local audience. StreetcarShops.com fills that hole by positioning a business in front of their local audience for pennies per household. It’s a “hybrid marketing” campaign that blends traditional media with the new web and social media campaigns that make this work. There has been a lot of buzz about the web for the last 15 years or so, and the stories of what works keep changing from all of the so-called experts. All of the hype has small business owners confused as to what they need to do to be effective on the web. Most of them believe they need a website, but the problem is that web sites are very expensive to build and maintain. It’s also difficult to build a site that consumers will really engage with. The other problem is that making their target audience aware of their particular site requires a large budget. The one thing that a business does need is a web presence at a local level, and StreetcarShops.com does this better than anything else out there.
What is your favorite thing about the program?
It works. We are receiving great feedback from people that have advertised in the program and also generous support from consumers that are using the reward cards as introductory offers to do business locally.
How are you different from your competitors like Bargain Bee and Living Social, and how do you differentiate yourself in the market?
We are very different from the purchase online coupons in the fact that it costs the consumer nothing to use StreetcarShops.com. It’s a complimentary offer from the local business. It’s a win for the consumer as well as the business. That’s one of the things that makes this work.
How does StreetcarShops.com stay mutually beneficial for both consumers and local businesses?
The offers don’t break the back or the bank of the business making an offer. It’s a financially sound offer for both the consumer and the business. We encourage our advertisers to change their offer monthly, or as often as they like, to keep their customer motivated and engaged.
What are the benefits of going online if you’ve already received a reward card booklet in the mail?
The online component of StreetcarShops.com provides upgraded offers from retailers and also features offers in other cities, which is ideal for those who travel. Going online also enables you to forward offers to friends and family.
What kind of response have you experienced from consumers and advertisers?
The responses have been incredible. The most common question we hear from consumers is, “When are you coming to my city?”
How do you plan to expand StreetcarShops.com, and how do you see it evolving?
I see StreetcarShops.com becoming the local portal for businesses to get their message to consumers at a local level. StreetcarShops.com will continue to evolve, and we will keep putting the BEST product of its kind out there. We will keep doing all of this right here in Louisiana. Right now 100 percent of everything about this product is produced here. I am very proud of that. Everything we do is upscale, chic, and first class, and that will continue.
What cities do you plan to launch StreetcarShops.com in next?
Our plans for expansion into new areas depend on finding the right people. We will grow into other cities around the country as we find qualified candidates. We are looking for people who want to make a much better than average living and who want to keep their independence. It’s a business opportunity for someone with the right skill set and determination to succeed.
Are there any new online features or promotions we should be on the lookout for?
Right now we have a promotional giveaway of limited edition Terrance Osborne prints. He is a two-time jazz fest poster artist. We have commissioned him to work with StreetcarShops.com. All you have to do is send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you love StreetcarShops.com to receive your limited edition print. We also just gave away an iPad 2 to Joann Torres, so keep checking StreetcarShops.com and “Like us” on Facebook. We may do it again.
“We’ve been a member of StreetcarShops.com for nearly a year now, and we are extremely happy with the initial results. Within the first three quarters, we’ve seen over $100,000 in sales associated with the reward cards. The average sale per customer using their StreetcarShops.com Rewards card is actually 50 percent higher than our typical transaction. Clearly, StreetcarShops.com has been a great value to our business, and we will continue to use their services in the future.”
>>> Mitch Mayes, Louisiana Nursery
“StreetcarShops.com has been a GREAT marketing tool for The Londoner Pub & Grill! The redemption rate is fantastic; we have seen immediate results every time it has been published. We have been able to reach a lot of new guests with this product, and the StreetcarShops team has been wonderful to work with. I truly feel this is a partnership. They really work hand in hand with us to promote the business. I highly recommend it for anyone who might be interested!”
>>> Rob Irwin, The Londoner Pub & Grill