TheStoreBook Leverages Phone for Deals

The idea behind pay per call and directory assistance substitutes like 800-Free-411 is that the telephone is a natural interface and delivery mechanism for leads and contacts to small businesses. VoiceStar (now part of Marchex) and others have also sought to capture text online and deliver it to a merchant handset for the same reason: to bridge the worlds of conventional business practices and the Internet.

Last week I spoke with Sanjeev Agrawal of TheStoreBook, which is seeking to do something similar. TheStoreBook uses telephone IVR as self-service input mechanism to acquire advertising and small business content (see video below).

There are a range of intriguing possibilities for this capability (think enhanced profiles on local sites). However TheStoreBook has launched as a way to obtain coupons and deals content, which is entered verbally over the phone. That content is then translated into text (by humans offshore) and distributed to various sites, like Google Maps and points beyond.

Here’s an example:

Coupon

The turnaround time can be a few hours or less. So a business could call in a promotion and have that “special” distributed before lunchtime. Alternatively an SMB might have excess “inventory” of some sort (shoes of a certain size or make) and create a promotion that might last until they were sold out.

Another interesting angle here is how the content is solicited. Agrawal knows the challenges of “self-service” for this market. And this is a self-service system obviously. But the solicitation of deals can be generated by automated calling. In other words, a StoreBook registered advertiser (e.g., restaurant) could be conditioned by a scheduled, incoming telephone call in the morning to provide a lunch special on a daily basis. The system has the capacity to reach out to advertisers on an automated basis.

Here’s a demo:

Agrawal is aware of the sales and distribution challenges here. He’s also not the first to try and leverage the phone for promotions; NearbyNow does something similar in a more limited capacity. But he has built a system that could become a valuable tool for near real-time promotional information capture and distribution. He’s also built the beginnings of a system for SMB content acquisition that has broad implications and extends well beyond coupons.

2 Responses to “TheStoreBook Leverages Phone for Deals”

  1. SearchCap: The Day In Search, June 25, 2008 | PAGE PROPELLER NEWS Says:

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  2. SearchCap: The Day In Search, June 25, 2008 | Techno Portal Says:

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