After talking with ‘anything local’ expert Greg Sterling in November of last year, our 2012 got off to a great start with Signpost being featured on his blog Screenwerk earlier this month. As we have been innovating how we reach local businesses nationwide as well as help them market and sell their service online, Greg recognized our accomplishments.
2011 was the year in which we’ve started to recruit a large local sales force to both leverage knowledge of the areas we are working with merchants and the ability to scale exponentially. Another important decision we made was focusing all our attention to merchants, providing them with the tools and local exposure they need to grow their business in a sustainable way. While we are continuously improving the product, we are happy to hear from local businesses such as restaurants, spas and gyms that Signpost provides them a cost-effective marketing and sales service with instant access to consumers.
From Greg Sterling’s blog post “Deals Site Signpost Builds Large Freelance Salesforce“:
…. roughly a month ago I spoke with Signpost’s Jacco de Bruijn and got a very different impression of the company, mainly because it seems to have figured out a way to build and leverage a distributed salesforce of feet on the street. It has also done some interesting things with its model that translates daily deals into a broader SMB marketing program.
As of my late November conversation with Signpost there were roughly 5,000 Deal Scouts in the system. AT&T has 5,000 directory sales reps by comparison. Of course not all Signpost outside salespeople are going to be equally productive but (if accurate) the numbers are impressive.
Signpost believes it can scale the Deal Scout program to 10,000 reps, without the costs incurred in building an inside sales capability (see Groupon or LivingSocial). In the beginning, an early coupon company called Zixxo tried to work with freelance sales reps unsuccessfully. ReachLocal started this way too and decided it needed a more professional on-staff salesforce.
Signpost charges a flat $99 monthly fee and allows the SMB-merchant to run as many deals as she or he wants. This is fundamentally different than the 40% to 50% margin that is normally charged by deal vendors. There is a 15% commission on sales that is split with the syndication partner if any.
Signpost explicitly refers to itself as “Google AdSense of local commerce.” There are several others using this analogy as well. The company currently syndicates its deals to “over 1,200 publishers, ranging from mobile apps, directory services, niche content platforms, local newspapers, WordPress plugins, as well as known national daily deal sites.”
And this year Signpost plans to add more tools and services to offer a more complete range of services to SMBs. Lots of interesting innovation going on here.