Patch, Others Seek Holiday Cheer Updating Tried and True Guides, Deals

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Nope, not going to focus on the countdown (count-up?) to 1,000 Patch sites by year’s end. The count is not really the point anymore (866), rather it’s what can be done with a communication loop that effectively extends to so much of the country. There’s a lot of money to made in local and arguably the one with the greatest network reach has the best chance to exploit the opportunities.

Holidays are a sparkling time to test out the effectiveness of one’s local penetration. And it seems Patch is going all in. But so are LivingSocial with its Black Friday deals and Groupon — reportedly planning big stuff.

And there are the independents, too. Welocally has teamed with Oakland Grown to create a local holiday gift guide. Ever-present Zaarly has their guide to hacking Black Friday.

But I wanted to focus on Patch, so I asked Mark Josephson, SVP of revenue, to talk about what Patch is pitching for the holiday (among other obvious questions). Turns out the network of local sites has a Ye Olde Fashioned Gift Guide of its own. Read on:

I understand there’s been some news on the revenue front at Patch. Tell me about the “Holiday Guide” Patch has launched and when?
We launched a few hundred local shopping guides last week that feature special deals some of the best local shopping destinations paired with great holiday events and articles. We’re testing different ways to highlight what’s happening on Main Street in our towns. It’s a great fit for us; businesses in our towns look to us for new ways to reach their customers, so we wanted to do what we could to highlight their deals during the busiest shopping season of the year.

The target is customer satisfaction — as it is with any of our sales initiatives — and we are happy with the results so far.

What kinds of promotions are involved?
All of the local businesses are encouraged to offer some discount or extra-value for Patch neighbors. Some are offering percentage discounts. Others are taking the opportunity to wish their neighbors happy holidays. Having grown up in a Patch town and now living in one, I’ve seen how important it is for people to feel a connection to the businesses in their towns. This is one more way Patch is enabling that.

Are Patch editors involved in promoting on the site and their Twitter feeds or Facebook?
The local Holiday Shopping Guides include editorial content as well as ads. But Patch editors are not required to promote the Shopping Guides.


Sample of Patch Holiday Guide pages:

Example of National Advertisers (The Home Depot and Bank of America):


Is this the start of a trend? Will we see seasonal guides that leverage the network?
Patch towns, like most small towns, have a steady rhythm. Valentine’s Day is February 14th every year. As it relates to local commerce, these are logical times for our partners to be more active in their marketing efforts. Although we only launched the guides as a test in less than half of our markets, the response has been terrific. Who knows what new ideas we’ll have next year, but as a test, this has shown us that merchants are eager to hear about new ways to promote their businesses. And we are uniquely positioned to offer this kind of initiative — one of the benefits of having scaled so well.

Mark Josephson, SVP of Revenue, Patch. The local network dips into the past creating a Holiday Guide for today’s consumer.

What is your goal with the Guide — is there a target?
The target is customer satisfaction — as it is with any of our sales initiatives — and we are happy with the results so far.

I understand you’ve landed the first national deal (flowers?), tell me about that.
Last week Patch ran a Daily Deal for 1-800-FLOWERS and we had a great response. The initial data showed very successful “average order” size, which correlates to the demographics of most Patch towns.

How were all the Patches involved?
The deal was featured on all Patches across the country.  It was promoted on the sites, via social media platforms, in the daily newsletters and in the deal email alerts.

You came to Patch from, one of the first to try the aggregation/curation hyperlocal model. How has the transition been to Patch-AOL Local?
It has been a fantastic transition. Our team at Patch and AOL Local is incredible and it is a blast to work with such a large platform. The Patch mission translates to both a huge business opportunity and an opportunity to change the world. These kinds of opportunities don’t come around too often.

What unique challenges do you face now, in terms of revenue generation, that you didn’t face at
At, we were more focused on staffing against national advertisers and relying on third parties to reach the local businesses. At Patch we are making a concerted effort to reach local and regional advertisers directly. You really need to nail the product set and channels to make sure you have the right products for the right customer.

Lots of critics argue that Patch can’t sustain its infrastructure with the current sales trends. What is your response?
They’re wrong.

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column appears every Wednesday on Street Fight. Follow him @Loclly