FabFind.com gets a good deal on national expansion

Former BBDO Chicago exec Bill Heilmann talks about his new venture, its new markets, and why he isn't out to go head-to-head with Groupon.

There are plenty of things not to like about group-buying sites like Groupon, Bill Heilmann, CEO, FabFind.com will argue, not the least of which is the risk of a brand being denigrated through discount promotions.

It’s a concept the former global brand director at BBDO Chicago is hoping to refine through his online venture FabFind.com. The Toronto-based site offers limited-time, limited-quantity offers to hip local markets, eschewing the bulk-buying trend of sites like Groupon in favour of a niche approach targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

The site targets urbanites, 25 to 34 years old, with an average household income of over $40,000, with a secondary target of 35 to 44 year olds. Deals are emailed to its membership every day, and members can promote the site to their friends through a referral program that allows referrers to earn 5% off everything their referee spends via the site.

This week, Heilmann announced that FabFind.com is expanding to Vancouver and Montreal this spring, with Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa slated to open this summer.

Since launching less than a year ago, FabFind.com has cultivated an email-based membership database of 80,000.

‘One of the things that we are aware of is brands, small medium or large, don’t like discounting,’ he explains. ‘We try to make the discount not our primary offering. Our goal is to ultimately help build a brand and build a business. This is a marketing vehicle that we are in charge of.’

Advertisers on the site are largely local businesses (offering deals such as two hair styling sessions at a salon for $28, a savings of $100) but FabFind has also partnered with national brands, such as charitable organization Plan Canada, on custom promotional campaigns as well.

‘Our primary focus is the feature of the day, we do have some opportunities for being a bit more creative,’ Heilmann says, citing as an example placement in the FabSpot box on the homepage, which is typically reserved for things the editorial team wants to highlight as cool or interesting.

FabFind is primarily promoted through three strategies: affiliate partnerships with lifestyle and entertainment websites and blogger seeding, experiential and event-based marketing, and email promotions through client databases.