5 Reasons why Groupon is a Losing Con-Game

Here you go, kid.  It’s free.  Just try it!

And so begins the addictive use of…….

Groupons and LivingSocial Deals.

Do consumers love them..yes.  Are they good for most businesses?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  They are a Con-Game that appeals to business owners who do not know how to sell their products or services for what they are worth.

Why are they a Con-Game?   To quote the great Sales Trainer Tom Hopkins, “If you are selling someone something that is NOT good for THEM, then you should be locked-up; because, when you do that, you are nothing more than a Con-Man.”

So, let’s list the reasons Groupons and LivingSocial “deals” are very poor business-building strategies:

1.  They appeal to “deal-seekers,” and not your IDEAL customers.  Statistically, deal-seekers are not looking to become loyal customers of a product; rather, they are loyal to whoever offers them the best deal.

2,  By a focus on price, and not value; they tell your CURRENT customers that the full-price they have been paying was too much.   When people think they have paid too much, they feel “ripped-off” and you easily lose them.  So, even when you gain a few “tryers” who come back later; you risk losing regular customers who WERE paying full price.

3.  Because they reduce your margins, they encourage (or force) you to cut corners on value delivery.  In a Groupon, if you offer a coupon of $5 for $10 of product; you only get to keep $2.50 (Groupon gets $2.50 – sweet deal for them.  Why do you think they sold it for so much money?).    Think about it…you are getting $2.50 for $10 of product!  I have run into several business owners who tell me that, because they get so many Groupon customers; they had to reduce the quality of their product to stay afloat.  That is a death spiral.

4.  They create an addictive reliance on the “Groupon” check.    The fact is, Groupons bring in people; so the business owner begins to think that they “work.”  Never mind that these are not loyal customers, that your margins are taking a beating, and that you have traded out your IDEAL customers for deal-seekers; the initial transaction increase sure looks good.  However, the longer you do them, the more of your customer mix becomes the deal-seekers.  So, just like a drug addict; you cross a threshold where you CAN’T quit.  I know of a Steakhouse in which 90% of his customers are Groupon or LivingSocial Deals.  His annual revenues are $1m, but he is losing money hand over fist; so he does not pay himself anything and his waiters get paid salaries because the Groupon deal-seekers do not tip well.   Every month, the check he gets from Groupon pays for the next month’s expenses (like a mini Ponzi scheme); when, as most coupons do, the Groupons lose their effectiveness, he will be in desperate trouble.

5.  The money you “pay” Groupon could be spent far more effectively building you as a BRAND, and not as a DEAL.  Just like any Con-Game, Groupon looks low-risk.  After all, they collect the money and then pay you half of what they collect.  If you sell 100 $10 for $20 Groupons, for example; you collect $500.  But, Groupon keeps $500.  Because that looks like a good deal, you may do it for a few more months.  Unfortunately, for the reasons above, you are not BUILDING a business; you are becoming a “deal-house.”  If you just took that $500/month for 3 or 4 months and put it into a good BRAND-building marketing campaign; you would be MUCH better off in the long-term. Unfortunately, once you start crushing your margins; eventually you have no money to spend on a well-targeted marketing campaign.

Am I passionate about getting people to stop using these deeply discounted deals?  Absolutely!  Just like a Cardiologist might not want to watch some eat fried foods every day (even though it tastes good); I don’t like watching business owners get taken in by the Groupon and LivingSocial Con-Games!

—————————————————————————————–

Build a BRAND, not a deal-house.   Schedule a 15 minute call with meMarketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll talk about how to build a strong Brand targeting your Ideal Customers:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   (PS.  even if you have not done a Groupon, call me.  🙂 ) 

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • Lori Saitz  On July 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Right on Roger! I could not agree with you more. As a consumer, I love these deals. But as a business owner, I would NEVER participate. I’ve heard the “rationale” that while they don’t work for some businesses (like product-based businesses), they are great for others, especially restaurants. NO, they aren’t good for any biz, for exactly the reasons you laid out above.
    Don’t be a sheep, following the herd!

    • Roger Boneno  On July 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Thanks Lori. The sad part is: they are TERRIBLE for high transaction businesses like Restaurants.

  • Venetia  On July 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Great information!

  • Reg Gupton  On July 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Roger, I agree that Groupon and other sites like it are often money losers because small business owners have no system to capture the contact information of the coupon users. And as importantly, they have no way to systematically stay in touch after the coupon is redeemed. So they get a one-time purchase and did not acquire a repeat customer.

    A restaurant owner friend of mine told me her cost of food was approaching 25%. So she breaks even at best or loses money on each transaction offered thru these sites..

    She has instituted a Loyalty Program and has grown her list from ~650 names to ~3,000 in a couple of years. She stays in touch with her list at least 2x per month using direct mail and email.

    Revenue you might ask? ~$600,000/year when she began to a little under $2,000,000 last year and growing, most of which fell to the bottom line.

    Thanks for your well written article.

    • Roger Boneno  On July 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks Reg. As one of my Strategic Partners says: Coupons build “Acquaintances,” but Good Marketing builds “Friends.”

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: