Discount Club Partners With Charities

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Subscription-based e-mail marketer, New York, will launch its Web site and officially begin building its database of e-mail addresses Jan. 31 with the help of local charities nationwide.

The goal of the site is to unite vendors who offer discounted products and services with Deal Club members who pay $20 a year to receive the offers via e-mail. Half of the membership fee goes to the charity from which the membership was purchased.

The model can be compared to coupon books in the offline world, according to Larry Deverett, GaZoom's president. Once a consumer becomes a member, he can choose to receive offers based on his particular interests.

GaZoom also will send offers for select items the member did not request information about. If there's a deal for a leather couch for $200, for example, the user may want to know about it," said Deverett. "If it's a phenomenal deal, we'll send it to everyone."

The site will send out deals that specific demographic group vendors will pay to reach. The cost to vendors will be 5 cents per e-mail.

This part of the business model could be problematic, according to Judy Andaloro, senior research analyst at AMR Research, Boston.

"If they're just using the information to send them [unwanted vendor offers], they will lose the customer," she said. "There has to be a way for consumers to control what they get."

There's a fine balance, Andaloro said, but consumers "may not know what they want until they see it."

The site has been signing vendors, ranging from local dry cleaners to major retailers, since December. More than 350 are on board.

This month, began its membership drive by partnering with local charities such as school groups and the Boy Scouts. It is also in discussions with the United Way.

To help spur sales and vendor participation, the site will conduct promotions in various cities. These efforts will include print, radio and cable television advertising as well as the hiring of agents to recruit local vendors and charities. Gazoom also plans to target large associations, and it will hold press events in New York on Jan. 31 and in San Francisco on Feb. 10.

To drive membership online, the site partnered with LinkShare to create an affiliate program with 1,000 sites. Affiliate members will receive $5 per club member registered.

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