Quick Takes | Get More Social With Old Partners

Summary

Traditional media partners – Newspaper, Radio and Yellow Pages– often the only media for local and regional businesses – have added forms of social couponing and promotion to their online sites to expand options for advertisers and sponsors.  While local and regional businesses may not be able to access or afford the volume of discounts on big social couponing sites like Groupon and Living Social, in-market newspaper, radio and Yellow Pages vehicles may provide an affordable way to test traffic building social promotion offers.

Promotions Get Social, Local With Deal Sharing Consumers

Social couponing sites like Groupon, a 2008 start-up, now in major metros across the US, offer their members a deal-of-the day, a large discount coupon  (50-90% off) on products or services sponsored by a local business.   Site members purchase the deal and are encouraged to share it via their social networks – an endorsed referral for the “deal” business.  On Groupon, the deal becomes valid if a certain number are sold before an expiration time.   Other social couponing sites may have a deal expiration, but do not require a minimum number of purchases, or email enrollment, to take advantage of a deal.  These coupon delivery platforms have become phenomenally successful with the weak economy, consumer captivation with online “sharing”, and geo and behavioral targeting.   Participation provides the featured business with exclusive (deal-of-the –day only) online advertising, links and traffic to its site and access to “qualified” new customers from the social couponing site’s large database of members/subscribers.

Local Media Fighting For Every Local Ad Dollar

Local print, radio and directories have been struggling against Internet advertising options for over a decade to maintain relevance and value to their audience and advertisers.   With everyone from Internet giants, to mobile media companies trying to grab a share of local marketing budgets, many traditional media companies have introduced online promotion and couponing  to add lead and sales generation and tracking clout to their advertising packages.   Large market daily papers like The Los Angeles Times have partnered with the biggest social couponing platforms.   Medium and small market papers and radio stations have found smaller, flexible coupon service platforms like Savings.com or are creating a “daily deal” area on their own sites, with sharing features.   Deals are announced in the paper, on the web sites and announced on air by the radio station.

Local Fights May Make Testing Affordable

Local and regional businesses from retailers to auto dealerships, to pre-schools and camps have an opportunity to evaluate the many options to target new customers in their local geography from large Internet players like Google, Yahoo, and AOL as well as their local traditional media partners.  Ask your ad reps for details on the online couponing and promotion options that can be tested alone or in combination with an ad schedule.  Negotiate hard for value-added since the local market has become the battlefield for Internet and mobile companies offering many forms of geo-targeting and hyper-local tactics at competitive prices to help build business on the local and community level. Test time-sensitive promotions to see if you can increase web and store traffic to certain week nights or day-parts , or to move “loss leader” inventory in a short timeframe to bring in new customers who can be introduced to your entire product line and cross-sold or up-sold to additional items.

Tips For Social Promotion Success

Make Sure You Can Afford Success – prepare for high redemptions by doing the math.  Calculate your gross margin on the discounted sales price of the good or service, and any revenue share on the coupon sold or media cost.   If the social discount results in a loss on the sale be sure the cost is comparable to what you are willing to spend to acquire a new customer and that staff is prepared to cross-sell “deal” shoppers on additional items.

Make The Offer Close-Ended – make sure your promotion is close-ended  with an expiration time to the deal and to the redemption period to control your liability.  Make sure you can handle the increase in business—push for a cap on the number of coupons to be sold.  You want to make sure your current customers can still get their regular appointment as well as accommodating new customers.  If you know you have a strong loss leader – say a branded item, like the latest Vera Bradley pattern coin purses, be conservative.   Do not let your media partner pressure you into terms that will overwhelm your service or financial well-being.

Make It Last– make sure you capture the email and postal mailing address of everyone redeeming the “deal”, for future marketing initiatives.  Also, have staff and service people prepared to upsell or cross-sell “deal shoppers”, who may be focused exclusively on the discount. Try to structure your deal to provide genuine value, with an affordable step up that both customers and you profit from.

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