Beginning in early August, Stuart McDonald, owner of Barbeques Galore in Oxnard, will be giving away free barbecue covers to his customers--but only to those who nab his giveaway coupon off the Internet.
For McDonald, conducting the barbecue retail operation over the Internet is a new and exciting proposition.
"More and more, some of the bigger companies in our industry already are involved on the Net, such as Weber--probably one of the biggest companies in the barbecue business," he said. "The days of the Yellow Pages as a reference point are ending."
McDonald is gaining access to the Internet through an affiliation with TMG Intl. Communications, a Ventura-based advertising agency that is set to launch its "inet coupons" Web site Aug. 15.
Retail businesses in Ventura County will be able to advertise on the Web site by offering coupons to potential shoppers. The site also will provide a separate directory of businesses and services throughout the area. Both services cost the businesses $240 annually.
"Doing some work developing Web sites for our clients, we realized one of the problems with the Internet is if somebody develops a Web site, they often can't afford to advertise it," said Gary Musgrove, president and chief executive of TMG. "To develop theirs and our business we will develop the inet coupons and develop a full advertising blitz on behalf of those companies."
In addition to Barbeques Galore, Musgrove said he has signed up the SurfNet Cafe of Ventura, Cisco's Sportfishing of Channel Islands Harbor and the Pastabilities restaurant in Ventura. "This is intended to produce sales and dollars and action and activity," Musgrove said. "We built it this way so as not to be just a mail-in kind of thing."
Though the inet coupon site is intended to build business for participants, it is also aimed at expanding TMG's market.
Musgrove said his company depends heavily on national and international clients including the Texas-based Relax the Back chain. But locally, he said, TMG comes up shorter than he would like.
"We figured this was a way to help develop relationships with local businesses," he said. "It's very easy to get dependent on larger accounts and not have a good, strong, healthy base."
As the inet coupon service grows, Musgrove plans to expand outside Ventura County, he said. The Web site address is www.inetcoupons.com.