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Archive for the ‘group buying’ Category

It seems like only last year my Facebook friends were mysteriously single, pregnant, or engaged to their best gay friends…and about three “???” comments in, the collective realized it was April 1. As the day I was supposed to be born but wasn’t (ha!), I’ll keep a special place for April Fool’s Day. This year, the internet got pretty creative.

Getting sore sitting in that desk chair all day? Or just bored of regular email? Google Motion solved that problem. If the video’s still up, watch it here— a mere two days after launching the much-discussed +1, my eyes were deceived for a moment upon loading Google and seeing the notice for Google Motion, a tool integrating ergonomic and “sensible” physical motions into email use to make the whole experience more interactive, intuitive, and dare I say fitness oriented.

In my favorite trendy corner of the interwebs, a couple of daily deal vendors offered some unbeatable purchases…but if you were gullible enough to fall for ’em, you likely couldn’t find a buy button. Yelp, who releases semi-frequent (maybe biweekly or so) deals, integrated a banner for $425 to rent a new puppy each month from the puppy of the month club. As someone who has perused Flexpetz, which I do fear is real, I did click on through to read reviews of how one puppy ate a chick’s box of cocoa puffs, while another was lauded by a child-fearing boyfriend as “an awesome contraceptive.”

I also got a chuckle from The Level Up aka SCVNGR, who took advantage of this snow-covered opening day and offered $45 for a Fenway streaking package. In keeping with their premise to offer two better deals upon the purchase of the first, $90 gets you a pinch hitter pass ($180 value), and $180 gets you a Fenway Park ‘internship’ with Ben Affleck (priceless). Evidently, the final scene in The Town was merely a rehearsal for a real robbery that you too can be a part of if you buy today’s deal.

Nice job, April Fool’s 2011. The internet’s just full of ways to entertain yourself at work!Any other good chuckles out there on this April 1?


Thought I’d devote this post to a sort of long-form #FF to highlight a couple of freshly launched brands that we’re keeping our eyes on. Each parallels a start up I’m familiar with, so I’ll be curious to watch them grow.


First, for anyone looking to make a quick(?) buck, I stumbled upon Gigwalk in Craigslist’s marketing jobs section. Their application is exclusively for the iPhone and uses your location to offer up nearby “gigs,” which involve visiting local businesses, taking photos, and answering basic questions on hours of operation, wheelchair accessibility, etc. So far, I’ve only seen gigs that pay $5 for what is estimated to be about 20 minutes of work.

Sounds like: Yelp, anyone? Looks like they’re trying to build a network of local shops rich in general information. The job post also refers to “review[ing] local businesses” and implies greater payment may be offered for that kind of contribution.

Cool idea? Sure. But it seems one would need to patronize each establishment (or appear super sketchy!) to capture all information.

Suggestion? Push notifications to users when they’re close to or at specific spots that offer a gig. We tweeted this to them last week, and will accept royalties! (Just kidding.)


Level Up

Sweet! A product from super start up –I use this term referring to the major funding they’ve secured along with the support of Google– Scvngr that leverages the popularity of daily deals– with a fund raising component twist. The basic concept is this: buy a deal (a la Groupon, Buy with Me, CoupMe, KGB deals, you get it). Great. If you liked that spot(currently on offer are Boloco, Kickass Cupcakes, and the Middle East), you’ve just unlocked level 2, which is a more deeply discounted deal. Buy that, and you’re really rollin’ VIP and can buy yet an even better one.

With an iPhone app at launch(!), I’m stoked about the potential here. They’re currently in Boston and Philadelphia.

Sound like: Groupon? Sorta.  GoodTwo? Kinda. I like this fusion of the two models: The Level Up is robust, comes with an app, and has brand cred from parent company Scvngr. They’re less in your face about the fund raising aspect— it’s GoodTwo’s cornerstone, as they actually rely on those orgs to sell their deals— but it’s a nice tie-in.

The Level Up isn’t super clear about how the non-profit contribution piece works, but notes some portion of deal proceeds goes to the charity partner. Deals for Deeds maybe?

Suggestion: Will be interesting to follow these 3-tiered deals; I’m wondering how sustainable this model is and how far businesses will go with stellar deals. I see some kind of need for levels 2 and 3 to build on level 1 deals, rather than being unique vouchers.

Any other new launches worthy of a quick peek?



Not four days into managing a twitter page for a client, and I’m inundated with @ mentions  from Groupon, Living Social, and Gilt City (Buy with Me and Eversave, where’re ya hiding?) saying they’d love to feature my client. I politely ask for an email, and it’s interesting to see who brings out the professional guns and who doesn’t. With a background in group buying sales myself, I’m wary of claims of x-thousand followers, and the “higher profile” clientele on a certain company’s list.

While pleased these companies recognize my client and want to feature the business, I’ve taken a step back to consider both sides of the argument pro- and anti-group buying as a marketing strategy. So, in one corner:

What’s good:

  • “free” advertising: this is a 24-hour(sometimes longer), exclusive offer sent to the inboxes of anywhere from 90,000- 1,000,000 individuals. For the offer period, the company you’ve selected tweets the deal, posts to Facebook, and the like. It’s free for you as in you don’t pay the company to run the offer, but they take a cut of your profit to earn their take.
  • reach to new customers. Fans of the company follow the offers. They may not already be your fans. They may become your fans as a result of this offer.
  • inspires more brand loyalty: your existing customers may look favorably upon this offer. The owner of Central Square’s Four Burgers once told me he ran an offer as a reward to his customers. If I see a business at which I’m a regular show up with a deal in my inbox, I’m 100% likely to buy it. And I’m pleased that this spot opted to run a sweet deal to drum up some buzz
  • no major loss: if you’re smart (or have an honest, non-scumbag sales rep), you’ll be able to negotiate a deal that doesn’t really cost you. I loved the Chutney‘s CoupMe offer of $4 for $8 worth of food, but I bought it intending to snag a filling lunch alone, so I paid $4 ($2 of that went to the restaurant) and walked out with nearly $8 worth of eats. To avoid that kind of loss, a restaurant like Yak and Yeti in Somerville ran an offer of $10 for $25 worth of food. More of a dining destination serving sit-down meals, I brought a friend to dinner, and the bill for 2 of us came close to $45. So, Y and Y made likely $5 upfront and then another $20, so $25 to feed us $40 worth of food. Make sense?
  • you’re in control: building on the last point, as the business owner, you can set limitations. Cap your maximum at 100, 500, 1000…whatever makes sense for your business. Set an expiration time (usually 6 months or a year, but more difficult scheduling things like a hotel stay can be more flexible) that works for you. Black out services as needed upfront. If the company you’re working with is any good, they’ll honor all your limits and make the deal irresistible.

What’s Bad:

  • I’ve spoken to businesses fearing “brand tarnish.” Eastern Standard Kitchen, for example, does not discount their food. Period. Okay, I get it. There are very few (or no) businesses I’d be “embarassed” or disgusted to see feature a deal, however. I called Eastern Standard because I’ve wanted to go for years but haven’t had the right chance– and a discounted voucher would force me to go.
  • “coupon whore” syndrome (or, buzzword, “deal fatigue”): run with one deal site? Great! Run with two? Okay. Run every month: desperate! Sure, each company markets to a new audience, but that “one time exclusive offer” pitch just flew right out the window. Have some respect for your biz!
  • your offer isn’t profitable: read: you lose too much money. You get overwhelmed with interest. Does this article ring a bell?
  • you don’t need any new customers: I find this one hard to believe, but then I think of a shop like my South End Hair Studio, Revive. Through some savvy client retention and the gospel of Yelp, those ladies are booked weeks in advance. There’s truthfully no time in the day for them to accommodate a promotion.

The verdict? In my mind, proceed with caution. Getting your feet wet with a deal site isn’t the worst thing for your brand. It’s kind of like Christmas morning, waking up and seeing your offer in bright colors on a website for the world to see.