Caffeine Promotions has perks for small business

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Interactive promotions agency ePrize Jan. 16 launched a Web-based service that lets marketers deploy customized online sweepstakes, instant-win and coupon-based promotions on a pay-per-lead basis.

In an effort to attract small- and medium-sized businesses, the agency's Caffeine Promotions Platform uses design templates for customizable banner ads and printable coupons to allow businesses to develop interactive promotions at the starting price of $1 per lead generated.

"We really feel like this is a game changer for promotions," said ePrize founder and CEO Josh Linkner.

He compared the business model to that of search advertising in that it democratizes the technology by lowering the costs and linking them directly to customer action.

"This is really a complement to search and not a competitor," Mr. Linkner said.

He said that Caffeine helps marketers complete a three-step prospect mining process that search marketing or banner ads begin. After getting a prospect's attention, marketers can acquire an interested prospect's information and then put forth an ongoing communication strategy.

That communication strategy can be implemented via a Caffeine pay-per-e-mail engine or other e-mail providers after lead information is exported.

Caffeine sweepstakes are valid throughout in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Britain. However, companies can choose to purchase customer data only from their local area, eliminating out-of-market leads.

"We've taken lessons learned from the most reputable brands in the world," Mr. Linkner said.

EPrize, Pleasant Ridge, MI, boasts working with 73 of the world's top 100 brands including clients such as Coca-Cola, Ford and Dell.

The company has already brokered several distribution deals with large search engines, e-mail advertising firms and other companies.

"Our strategy [for getting clients to use Caffeine] is to partner with companies that already work with small business on online marketing and acquisition," Mr. Linkner said.

Before launching for general use the company ran a Beta test beginning in November 2006. One participant was Fathead, a retailer that sells customized wallpaper adhesives to sports fans.

"The strength of Caffeine is how quickly you can get a promotion or a sweepstakes up and running," said Aaron Chestnut, vice president of marketing for Fathead, Livonia, MI.

He said by adjusting prizing, style, information to be collected and inserting a logo, it took him less than 10 minutes to launch a sweepstakes for the company.

Fathead has run several promotions using the Caffeine system since November including a grand prize drawing for four tickets to a major sporting event. The response, according to Mr. Chestnut, has been significant in proportion to the amount of overall traffic the Web site gets.

Grand prize drawings done through Caffeine use a patent-pending Prize Pool . A chance to win the same prize is available to prospects of several small business participating. There are 39 different Prize Pools with more than half a million dollars in prizes.

"Caffeine without the Prize Pool would not be as spectacular," Mr. Linkner said.

The pooling system lowers the economic risk for marketers looking to do grand prize sweepstakes removing the burden and risk of development, security and compliance.

"It comes down to what level of customization do you need from a program," Mr. Chestnut said. "As a marketer you've got to find ways to learn, learn, learn. Then you can use those learning to blow out a larger customized push. Caffeine lets us stick a toe in the water without investing massive amounts up front."

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