The Trevelino/Keller Communications Group launched the new social networking site Dine and Shoppe (dineandshoppe.com) this month, creating in the process one of the Web's first online communities for food and retail professionals.
Launched only two weeks ago, Dine and Shoppe intends to be the ultimate cyber destination for small-business owners looking to connect with fellow industry insiders and gain valuable marketing tools at recession-friendly rates.
Site coordinator Dean Trevelino says the goal is to create a home where mom-and-pop store owners can exchange ideas and learn effective ways to promote their businesses at an affordable cost.
“A lot of franchises have to rely on national promotions that don't come often enough,” he says. “And they don't have the money to hire public relations firms to help.”
Trevelino, one of the owners of Atlanta-based Trevelino/Keller Communications, says rather than paying PR agencies that—depending on size—can cost thousands, Dine and Shoppe will provide a range of services at a low, fixed monthly price of $1,000 (plus $100 a month for media-pack expenses). Through PrixFixe, a virtual co-op and one of the site's key features, members receive extensive public relations support with an emphasis on local markets, including webinars on subjects like crisis management, brand building, and social media.
Partnerships with companies like TwitPay, a Twitter promotions and commerce company, and AdvanceMe, a merchants cash-advance organization, mean members have exclusive access to their services. Trevelino says as the network builds momentum, they'll explore potential partnerships with other establishments as well.
Dine and Shoppe also offers an a la carte menu, designed specifically for new members unprepared to make a financial commitment. Trevelino says this option allows members the flexibility to choose which services they can afford without jumping into the one-year obligation PrixFixe requires. “For instance,” he says, “if a business owner wants to build a Facebook page or say, develop a Twitter strategy, we'll do it for a [set] fee.”
While social-media ventures like Myspace and Twitter increasingly show credibility as strong marketing devices, Trevelino hints that online niche communities may be the future.
“Web sites will continue to be relevant Web 1.0 platforms for companies, and while we are big advocates of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn social networks and their respective groups, we believe interactive B2B communities that we create and manage as a means of bringing value to business-to-business marketplaces are more relevant today.”
With its clean design and subtle tones, Dine and Shoppe is easy to navigate. As with most social networks, members can create profiles, upload pictures, manage a friends list and join group discussions. And though it's still in its infancy, servicing only a dozen or so members thus far, Trevelino says the company is already looking ahead.
“We hope to build a fairly active membership and build the reputation of the brand,” he says. “I think it'd be great to one day join the speakers’ circuit, get on a panel, and eventually have our own Dine and Shoppe talks.”