Shopkick and journalism sales staffs should be best friends

A couple of months ago, I had a great “original” idea. Newspapers should develop mobile apps that would allow people to scan barcodes and QR codes with their smartphones at local shops. Those codes would earn the user points, which could be redeemed for cash, special offers, etc. Newspaper sales staff would manage these barcodes, thus developing a new source of ad sales revenue.

As is the case with many of my “original” ideas, somebody thought of it well before I did and is doing it even better than I imagined.

So kudos to Shopkick, a new startup with millions in venture capital that takes a “reward customers actually in the store” concept to a whole new level of fun, convenience and effectiveness.

In short, Shopkick uses a in-store device to work with a smartphone app that allows people to earn points and special offers by simply walking into a store. TechCrunch has a solid video from a demonstration of the app by Shopkick at a Best Buy in the Bay Area on Aug. 3 showing just how the app would work.

I think the Shopkick concept has great potential (so long as there’s a seat at the table for us Android users in the future in addition to the iPhone). And I think, in order to maximize their potential, the sales staffs at local media outlets could (and should) become their best allies.

This New York Times piece gives detail on Shopkick’s revenue model. If I had to translate it with alphabet soup, it’s an IRL CPC system. For every person that comes into a store and utilizes Shopkick, that store pays Shopkick a set amount of money.

Right now, Shopkick has agreements with some national retailers like Best Buy and Macy’s and shopping mall operator Simon Property Group. But as the company grows, Shopkick will want to drill down into more and more communities, and possibly work with local non-chain stores in addition to national retailers.

Does it make sense to develop their own sales staffs for this program, or would it be better to outsource the heavy lifting on the sales side to an already-established sales staff for a rev share? Like say, at a newspaper? Or television station? Or a web-based organization like in D.C. (Shopkick’s not there yet), where you could even possibly develop more special features through cross-app promotion?

Plus, by having the sales staff at news orgs, which are already getting plenty of experience dealing with third-party vendor involvement with ad sales, deal with the sales and customer relations end of things, Shopkick could devote more of its resources to continually improving the technology involved. Thus, the app gets that much better, more people and stores use it, and the more everybody makes.

I think it would be a win-win.

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