PinPoint offers small businesses the loyalty card of the future

PinPoint is a free community loyalty rewards program that offers customers discounts and rewards to a variety of merchants through the use of a single card. With PinPoint customers can receive welcome, birthday, anniversary and payback rewards to many retailers, restaurants, services and entertainment businesses in the local area. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Pinpoint currently…

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PinPoint is a free community loyalty rewards program that offers customers discounts and rewards to a variety of merchants through the use of a single card.

With PinPoint customers can receive welcome, birthday, anniversary and payback rewards to many retailers, restaurants, services and entertainment businesses in the local area.

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Pinpoint currently hosts more than 150 vendors on their app.

“PinPoint takes the place of hundreds of loyalty cards and rolls them into one,” said Aaron Barnes, CEO & President, PinPoint.

How it all started

PinPoint grew out of Barnes’ dissatisfaction with traditional loyalty cards.

“The lack of transparency [of loyalty programs] really bothered me,” said Barnes. “I would use loyalty cards and have no idea what I was getting out of it.”

PinPoint is not only a place for customers to collect special offers, the app also allows the customer to track their past purchases to see how close they are to redeeming other payback rewards.

“This was a total napkin idea,” said Barnes. “I was having dinner with my father and thought it would be interesting to have a single card that fulfilled all of the functions of multiple reward programs and apps.”

Barnes explained that he and his father had been long-time business partners within the merchant services industry when they decided to test the idea among past clients.  

“We used to work with small businesses to handle their banking transactions,” said Barnes. “Throughout many years in the merchant services industry we had built up a base of loyal merchants with whom we originally asked to test the concept.”

Helping local merchants market their businesses

While most people know PinPoint as a type of loyalty program, the app is also handy for merchants wanting to attract new customers. Barnes explained that PinPoint helps these merchants customize their offers and gives the businesses feedback and suggestions to help fuel their marketing efforts.  

For a flat monthly fee, merchants can sign up for PinPoint and get access to the digital loyalty program, a customer database, reward tracking, custom analytics, ROI reports, email campaigns, push notifications and more.

“We have a lot of data to work with after several years of collection and research,” said Barnes. “We really consider ourselves to be a marketing coach/consultant.”

Bringing big marketing efforts to small businesses

Barnes explained that places like Starbucks and Panera Bread have endless funds to generate loyalty programs and to keep them running. He explained that he saw a gap in those efforts for small businesses.  

“We proposed PinPoint as a WallStreet merchant technology to small businesses,” said Barnes. “We found that these businesses want that same type of loyalty program as the big guys, but they didn’t have the money, time, resources, or manpower to create it. So we’ve kind of become that mediator.”

Barnes explained that rather than having all of the cost fall onto one business, PinPoint allows the marketing costs of a loyalty program to be spread out among all the merchants that use the app.

“We thought, ‘Why don’t we create a robust, feature-rich, easy-to-use, consumer-friendly marketing program and then share it, and spread that cost out among small businesses,’” said Barnes.

Naming rights and keeping up with technology

One of the biggest hurdles PinPoint has had to overcome is convincing businesses of the value of a larger loyalty network.

“We knew there was a need for an affordable loyalty marketing service, but many people still wanted their own name on the loyalty program,” said Barnes.

Barnes explained that many merchants didn’t understand the concept of being a part of a larger loyalty program outside their own companies.

He said that it was an uphill battle to convince merchants that they didn’t need their logo on the loyalty program card. He said they didn’t understand that having an out-of-house loyalty program could actually attract more customers that were using the same loyalty program app for other businesses in the area.

When asked what the biggest difficulty was for PinPoint, Barnes explained that most people underestimate the amount of work that goes into making an app.

“People see these corporate apps and just think that is the standard,” said Barnes. “When in reality they have a fleet of people that are working on that app year-round.”

Barnes explained that the nine-person PinPoint team works constantly to develop their app to meet the needs of their consumers and merchants all in-house.

A growing business

PinPoint is currently in nine markets, including California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Washington D.C.

“We’ve started popping up in these states because of the strategic partnerships we have,” said Barnes. “We are very aggressively seeking a national presence.”

Barnes tributes the success of PinPoint to the constant feedback from merchants and customers.

“Hundreds, if not thousands of emails have come in with questions, comments and concerns,” said Barnes. “It’s not an automated reply. We’ve really taken our time in beta mode, and it’s given us the crash course that we needed to take this nationwide.”

The biggest source of pride for Barnes is seeing other businesses grow with their product.

“To see all of these small local merchants that I’ve developed relationships with grow and utilize our idea is a really neat feeling,” said Barnes. “It really gives us confidence as we work to grow nationally.”

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