An upstart called CC Coupon LLC (Booth 129) is bringing new value to calling cards. The company now offers cards that function as both calling cards and coupons
"Agents and resellers look for retail distribution points to sell their cards," says Steve Cherry, vice president of CC Coupon, adding that the bulk of calling cards in the marketplace are distributed by agents. "CC Coupon will make used calling cards become redeemable coupons to use at the point of purchase or at [a retailer such as] Pizza Hut.
"The calling card business is hugely competitive — there’s little differentiation of calling cards other than rates," continues Cherry. "This adds significant benefits from the consumers’ perspective because it might have $2 off on [a product the consumer uses], and also it could drive that customer back to the point of purchase to buy another card or another product."
Also, the use of the calling card allows coupon sponsors to reinforce their brand by playing audio messages to the users of the calling cards each time they use the card.
CC Coupon will license use of the coupons to other calling card providers that have deals with retailers like Safeway or Walgreens, says Cherry, who notes that agents in such arrangements typically get 3 percent to 5 percent commissions.
Cherry says CC Coupon also intends to forge deals with specific sponsors to target various demographics. The company says that given the demographic of the buyers of prepaid products, CC Coupons program is a tremendous promotional tool for building Latino and youth-focused marketing campaigns. Cherry says CC Coupon is in the midst of negotiations with restaurants, grocery stores and consumer packaged goods manufacturers. "You could get a coupon on AT&T Wireless with Nestle chocolate chips," he says.
Rabih Aridi, CEO of BAK Communications, the first calling card provider to enter into a marketing alliance with CC Coupon, says the integration of the coupon with a prepaid calling card will serve to differentiate his products in a market where product differentiation is difficult to achieve. "Anything that adds perceived value and differentiation to our products is a welcome enhancement," Aridi says. BAK will offer the ability to integrate coupons with its prepaid calling card product to all of its distributors and resellers in the weeks to come.
CC Coupon obtained the license to U.S. patent 6,183,017, which permits a prepaid calling card to be used as a redeemable coupon. The owner and inventor of the patent, Dan Najor, co-founder of CC Coupon, obtained the patent on the ability to use a prepaid calling card as a redeemable coupon in 2000. Najor, a grocer for the past 30 years, invented the concept as a means of ensuring repeat business, increasing customer loyalty and building brand awareness. The patent applies to all forms of prepaid calling cards including wireline, wireless and Internet calling cards.