Creative DIY’s for Home Deco

We know how expensive it can be to re-vamp the look of your humble abode. The same window fixtures can begin to harsh your mellow while the color palate embedded throughout your home can use a little “pick-me-up.” Though house refurbishing can cost more than a pocket full of change, there are a few solutions to your problem. Check out Trend Hunter’s 55 ideas for creative home decor DIY’s!From colorful glowing containers to newspaper taxidermy, you can find a wide array of inspiring options to make your home anew.

The True Advertising Costs for Deals of the Day – the devil in the details

When it comes to Deals of the Day, consumers always win, hands down, no questions asked. But when we begin to consider the merchant side of the dynamic, what’s in it for them? A lurking “grey area” is still being debated, with the crux of the issue being how do you calculate the actual advertising cost or for the Deal of the Day Campaign? Given the typical Deal of the Day cost model, there is a gross margin difference which leaves room for ambiguity and much needed research. Some business owners refer to the margin difference as an advertising cost, but others feel differently.

It’s easy math and the way many business owners view it varies on several levels. A business owner can potentially think to themselves, “It doesn’t cost me a single penny to sign up with a Deal of the Day campaign; I pay nothing out of my pocket and receive a check!” Well . . . not quite so. Another prospective approach of the Deal of the Day mentality is “It only costs me 30 – 50% of the selling price of the coupon for advertising; I still don’t have to write a check!” Again, this logic is flawed. Here is the key question. Since most businesses end up selling their product or service at a larger discount than their normal average discounted selling price, how such you calculate the difference in gross margin?

In order to understand this dynamic, take a typical restaurant Deal Offer:
• Deal of the day offer is $5 for $10 in food (50% off)
• Processor takes 40% of the $5, or $2, thus leaving the business with $3 per voucher
• Average ticket is $17, the voucher is worth $10, adding $7 more for the merchant
• Merchant gets $10 total from a $17 food ticket – discount of 41%

Let’s assume as a restaurant owner you average a 10% food discount based on all promotional campaigns throughout the year. The Deal of the Day yields a 41% average (after you upsell and cross sell above the value of the coupon) discount. After a customer redeems the coupon, s/he purchases more than face value. So, a meal worth $17 would bring in $10 (this includes the payment from the deal processer plus the revenue above the coupon value) – that’s a 41% discount –versus $15.30 (10% discount) on average.

Should the difference of $5.30 between these examples also be considered an advertising expense or a promotional discount? We believe it should! The true advertising cost of a deal of the day is not always what it seems. If the restaurant owner had 1000 customers redeem the coupon, then this is an extra $5,300 that should be added to the tab!

We’d like to hear from you; do you think the Deal of the Day cost model is profitable for the merchant end in the long term or are these Deal of the Days’ only breeding benefits on a one-way-street? Share your thoughts and let’s discuss!

Derek Hall is the Founder and CEO of Dartz Media, an Austin based company helping small to medium sized businesses grow more profitably by acquiring and retaining the best customers. He has personally been involved in these types of conversations with thousands of local merchants over the past several years and provides advice and suggestions for them regarding their advertising challenges.

Draw a Stickman

Have you ever toyed around with the idea of becoming an animator? How about a comic-creator? Well, if the answer to either question is yes, then we have the perfect solution for you. Draw a Stickman is not only entertaining, it provides the artistic liberty you dream of and puts your drawings in action for you! Go on adventures with your sketches and venture into the world of creative discovery!

Feel free to take a sneak peak here.

Does Robert Plant Actually Live in Austin?

In case you haven’t heard, Austin Reader, you may live closer to a rock ‘n’ roll legend than you think. Prodigious Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant is suspected to be living in the Texas state Capital, ya’ll. He is rumored to have taken up living quarters with singer-songwriter Patty Griffin and last week, Plant actually confirmed their marital status.

In a new interview with the Independent, Plant said he “eloped and ran off to Texas,” avoiding the subject of the nuptials. “I spend half my time there and half here [in the UK].”

According to Spinner, “the 63-year-old rock legend said that he and his most-likely bride, who is 48, are living in an ‘old crack house’ in Austin that’s infested with termites. ‘I tap my hand on the table and they fly out the walls in this huge cloud, like something from a Disney film,’ he said.”

Keep your eyes peeled and ready to be starstruck, fellow Reader.

Phoenix Trades Depot

The Phoenix Trades Depot is finally official, folks! With a brand new gallery, which will open its doors to the public Saturday, a long lasting relationship with East Austin will begin to flourish. Come show your support and see the works of many Austin artists. All proceeds will go straight to the artists whose works are on display. Feel free to enjoy the new space and partake in our wonderful arts community. Tracks will be brought to you by DJ SiloSix! Also get a discounted drink from gallery neighbors St Roch’s Bar.

Here’s the Phoenix Trade Depot mission statement to give you an idea of what they’re all about:
“The Phoenix Trades Depot is a multipurpose facility focused on use by creative individuals in the arts and trades aiming to become an important part of the east Austin community through the integration of arts based events, a store front and gallery for local artisans, active micro-business space, open air markets, and affordable rental space for outside organizations and events.”
Space is becoming available for artists and small businessses looking to be a part of something greater than profit generation. The dream centers around arts and entertainment, but extends into hosting local vendors, a food market, formal and informal classes, a wood shop, lecture and meeting spaces, and audio/video production and training space.

Deadly Sin No. 1: Deal of the Day Lowers Overall Margins

Like we said before, businesses who participate in the “Deal of the Day” type promotions are still paying for it. The average discount after a campaign (after adding in up-sell and cross-sell) is larger than normal; it lowers their overall margins. All this means is that companies who sign up for one-time promotions are making less money than they would with a normal customer base who isn’t just “in it” for the novelty of a discount.

With Groupon being the fastest growing company in history, it has attracted many competitors including Deal of the Day and LivingSocial. The main issue with these promotional entities is that the businesses themselves are toying around with customer loyalty and trust. Sure, these qualities are (to be straightforward) “priceless,” except in the end, they do count for nickels and dimes. And boy oh boy, does pocket change make a difference!

The Deal of the Day / Groupon model establishes an arrangement with the given business so that the retailer discounts their service or product by 75%. At this point in time, the consumer receives 50% and Deal of the Day or Groupon takes the rest of the 25%. Obviously, and temporarily enough, the retailer appropriates new customers – how can this be a negative thing? They toy around with the risk that these consumers are one-hit wonders, they’ll never see the likes of these clients, or their wallets, again. This is why Deal of the Day and Groupon can be seen as a customer acquisition cost, which is quite similar to advertising.

It can be easy to forget sometimes but it is crucial to keep in mind that customer base is key, and when a company establishes a widespread popular customer base, it becomes extremely tough for competitors to lure these customers in.

Want your pics to be purrfect? Just “Add a Cat”

Have you been keeping it safe with the summertime pics? It’s time to change up your style right meow and download  the “Add a Cat” app for some pzazz. If you’ve always been too allergic to stand next to your feline friends, this is a definite answer to your problems. Watch the  video to see what the buzz is and add a cat to your favorite photos!

12 Most Addictive Sites, Do You Dare?

Perhaps the proper way to introduce an amateur to the most useful tool in the world is by getting them automatically hooked. If there are people who are still “new” to the internet, we have the perfect compilation of habit-forming websites just for you! We came across the list of top The Most Addictive Sites on the Web, 2012 for the naïve internet newbie—except this may as well be a list for all who wish to endeavor upon the occasional brain-less activity. Whether it be a grandma with a twisted sense of humor or the Luddite friend who is hardly familiar with a track pad, this list paints a charming picture of great ways to waste hours on end. Just make sure to clear your schedule before you start perusing, folks. Who ever really uses the internet to do meaningful research anyway, right?

The 7 Deadly Sins of “Deals of the Day” for Advertisers to Consider

The 7 Deadly Sins of “Deals of the Day” for Advertisers to Consider

“Who wins from these coupons and at what cost?” That is a crucial and often overlooked question for businesses rushing to join the emerging “deals of the day” bandwagon being driven at breakneck speed by hundreds of companies across the US. Unquestionably, these arrangements drive short term spikes in business, but closer inspection reveals all is not what it may seem.

Here are seven (7) personal observations I have developed over the past year, having worked with small to medium sized businesses every day. These companies range from $500k to just under $10M a year in revenue and are always setting aside part of their budget to try new advertising ideas.

The 7 Potential Deadly Sins are:

1. Businesses are still paying for it. The average discount after a campaign (after adding in up-sell, cross-sell) is larger than normal. It lowers their overall margins.

2. They own the data. Daily-deal companies typically keep the consumers data and don’t share it with the advertisers. Unless there have an efficient way to capture the consumer data when the certificate is used – businesses lose.
3. Think it will bring “loyal” customers? Forget it! Double-check the research. Recent studies conclude the national average for repeat customers from campaigns such as these is less than 20%.
4. Is the business prepared not to blow all those new 1st impressions? They should expect an abnormal demand for their products and services in a short period of time. Unless the first impression is great, the business can develop a bad rap fast.
5. What about current customers? They could be casualties. They are the ones that have been loyal, and as they say, “brought you to the dance.” Unless they are receiving the same love and attention during this heightened demand – watch out!
6. Breakage – potential liability issues! “Breakage” is the term many use when a business can’t fulfill a promised coupon offer where a customer has paid for it in advance. Many government authorities are investigating complaints from consumers that can’t use the coupons. Businesses could end up holding the tab for all “unused” offers or have to put money into escrow.
7. A company’s image and BRAND could be at risk! These campaigns can be very effective for new locations or brand new businesses with hardly any customers. BUT, if the business has an established brand – beware – consumers are smart and they may sit on the sidelines until that ridiculously great teaser offer comes along again. These campaigns have also been used as “ATM Machines” for businesses that have struggled during the financial downturn, but in the long run overall profit margins can be severely compromised.

The top tier companies that promote these offers have a great business model and many investors can’t wait to become their shareholders. But in the long run do they have the “middleman” or their advertisers’ best interests at heart?

STAY TUNED. There is more to come!  Every few weeks I will post more granular details and ideas about each of the topics in this edition. I hope you find this useful and share your comments and stories.

Derek Hall is an entrepreneur and founder of DartzDeals based in Austin, TX. He also has over 21 years of experience in executive management in the technology industry. He has founded several very successful companies since 2005 to serve the advertising needs of local business owners. DartzDeals business model is based upon persistent advertising via smart phones, the web, personal branded apps and high end print for local businesses to use for client capture and retention. DartzDeals website is

Daily Deals doesn’t deliver DATA

So you’ve decided to use a coupon to promote your business (Hopefully on DartzDeals…but hey, we know you have options). Now what?

Coupons are great for promoting your business to new customers who, otherwise, may have never visited your business. They are also great to thank your loyal customers for their business. But one of the most overlooked benefits of coupons is the opportunity to gather information.

Information can help you track who your new and existing customers are, where they live, what they enjoy/dislike and what the word around town is about your business. You can also ask permission to contact them about future promotions and start building a database of customers.

An idea: ask your customers to fill out a short survey when they use your coupon. As a reward for filling out the survey, offer them another coupon to encourage repeat business.

Keep your surveys short. Customers should be able to fill them out in one minute or less.

Here are some examples of questions a restaurant (We’ll call it Dartz Diner) may ask it’s customers:

What is your name? Email? Zip Code?

How did you learn about Dartz Diner?

Is this your first time dining at Dartz Diner?

How would you rate your experience at Dartz Diner?

What did you like or dislike about the service, food and decor?

Will you be a returning diner?

These are just some examples of questions you can ask your customers. For Yes or No questions allow guests to circle their choice rather than writing it in, they will appreciate the seconds of time saved.

Have someone reliable and accurate enter the information into a database. Even a program like Excel will work to store data and track patterns.

Coupons are a great way to get measurable results, but if you want these results to last you need to know your customers and their needs. You need to have a conversation with your customers.

Daily Deal sites don’t provide you any information about your customers. What good is that? DartzDeals can provide business’s with basic demographic information about their customers such as name, email, zip code, gender and what categories they are interested in.