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Google Offers, Day 1: Portland Coffee Shop Calls It 'Jaw-dropping'

  |  June 2, 2011   |  Comments

1,700 vouchers sold for two-store business.

floydsOnly 10 minutes after Google Offers went live yesterday, a young man came through the doors of Floyd's Coffee Shop with a printed voucher in hand, and in so many words, said, "I'm here for my deal." Jack Inglis, the Portland, OR shop's owner, said his staffers had to give him the same imperfect news they would deliver countless times throughout Wednesday.

"We had to tell him the offer is redeemable starting tomorrow," Inglis explained. "So there was a little bit of confusion there, and I think Google quickly clarified the Offers page to make that a little clearer that it was redeemable for a year. Some people thought it was only redeemable [yesterday]."

But here's the kicker: The small business owner, worried that mostly regulars would end up buying his $10-for-$3 discount voucher, so far is witnessing new faces coming into his coffee shop that's situated in Portland's tech-and-design business district known as Old Town. Floyd's Coffee has a second location in the City of Roses' Buckman neighborhood that's also participating in the campaign.

"I was initially a little concerned about the staggering number of vouchers we were selling," Inglis said. "But I am encouraged by what I have seen so far."

Speaking with ClickZ News, he said 1,708 vouchers were sold out of a possible 2,000. Marketers have the option of running a discount for 24 hours or capping it on Google Offers. Inglis' company was the first-ever to run a deal via the platform.

Addressing the atmosphere in his Old Town shop yesterday, Inglis said, "Practically everyone coming through my door was talking about it. It was jaw-dropping. I was amazed how quickly the information got around."

Google, he said, selected his company as the first Offers marketer partly because of its numerous positive consumer reviews on the business's Google Places page. Inglis has had regular meetings with the search engine giant's products team, while getting ready for the campaign.

"They convinced me it would work out pretty well," he said. "It didn't take much effort because you could see Google has the power to market it in a way that's practically unmatchable. They showed me that the people I'd want to reach would see the Offer pretty quickly."

While Inglis wouldn't say how much Google would take out of each $3 voucher sold, he said the Mountain View, CA-based company made the campaign "very attractive to us." The business owner said Google also informed him he'd get paid electronically within a few weeks for the vouchers sold. When asked about the potential for losing money on the initiative, he acknowledged seeing reports where some small businesses fared poorly with deals niche leader Groupon.

"It is a little bit of a loss leader," he said. "You have to say, 'If I were to spend my money in advertising, what would my leads be?' I have spent money before in local weeklies that serve my young adult target demographic, and never really felt like there was a direct response to that media buy…It seemed like a bad investment. I love traditional media, but people live online these days. The immediacy of Google Offers and the excitement it is bringing is great. Even if it wasn't the rollout, I think it would be much the same because people would say, 'Well, that's a heckuva good deal.'"

Powell's Readies for a Google Offer

Portland is the launch city for Google Offers, but the service will also premiere in San Francisco and New York City in the coming weeks. Another Portland business, Powell's Books, plans to run a Google Offers campaign sometime this month, according to Mark Pennington, the retailer's e-commerce marketing manager.

Pennington said Google has been running display, print, and outdoor advertising "for the last four or five weeks" in the City of Roses. He explained that Google users in Portland have frequently been served AdSense and AdWords promos that push the opportunity to sign up for the Google Offers email list. Even though his brand had turned down pitches from Groupon and LivingSocial in the past, Pennington said Google's Places-Offers combo helped sell his team on the idea.

"We really like how it will work in Google's ecosystem," Pennington said. "We do really well with reviews on Places…We also liked the extra branding we'd get with Powell's sometimes being mentioned in the ads that Google is running to promote this."

Pennington was a little more forthcoming than Ingles from Floyd's Coffee about how the revenue-sharing would work with Google. "It's about the same as what you see with Groupon and the others," he said.

Meanwhile, the daily deals niche continues to see a ton of activity. LivingSocial on Wednesday acquired French deals site Dealissime.com, while Groupon has extended the pilot for its mobile deals platform, GrouponNow, from Chicago to also include New York City and San Francisco.

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Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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