I recently read an article that featured one of our clients, Mt. Tabor Dental, and their foray into dental marketing though Google Offers. This got me thinking about the role of Daily Deals in the lives of small business owners, resulting in last week’s article, Groupon vs. Google: Are Daily Deals Good for Business?
There’s much debate over this particular issue, including whether or not Daily Deals translates into customer loyalty. I think I have a unique perspective as both a couponer and a person who’s heavily invested in the health of small businesses.
From the Perspective of a Couponer
I decided to quit my teaching job a few years ago, leaving our family of four with one income (my husband’s also a teacher). We lived on a single teacher’s salary for a year, and I learned through that experience to be very resourceful, especially when it comes to money. Those habits have proven that they die hard, and I continue to practice my cunning and wit when it comes to saving money – this includes coupons.
So as I read this dental marketing article, a particular quote captured my attention: “…half of those bottom-feeding coupon patients won’t accept your treatment plan and stay for at least nine months…”
Bottom-feeding coupon patients?
From what I understand of the article, I don’t think this is the author’s opinion. Rather, I think it’s a reflection of what some business owners believe about those of us who use coupons on a regular basis.
With the advent of shows like Extreme Couponing, I think couponers and coupons have gotten a bad rap. From what I understand about Reality TV, there’s very little reality to be had during the course of one of them, and shows that feature couponing are no different.
I believe that I can safely say that most of us who use coupons on a regular basis aren’t extreme – we don’t have the time, energy, or sanity to try and bankrupt businesses offering products at a discount. In my little corner of the world, it’s more important to save a little here and there with coupons in order to buy what really matters, like the 16-ounce bottle of organic, farm-fresh, locally-grown honey that costs $5 (I just bought one a week ago from a farm in my area).
Mostly, people who use coupons – including Daily Deals – are short on both time and money, and are focused on simplifying life and trying to make ends meet in a challenging economy. Wouldn’t these socially-conscious, resourceful and creative people make really good customers?
From the Perspective of a Small Business Participant
As opposed to a few years ago, if you’re reading this then you know I now have a job. While I don’t personally own a small business, I work for one involved with helping others grow their own small businesses. The health of these businesses, especially in our current economy, is very important to me.
If you’re against the whole Daily Deal idea for your particular business and/or you revile couponers in general, I may not be able to change your mind. That’s fine, but consider that we might be looking at this whole discount thing all wrong.
Instead of offering discounts for the sake of garnering business, what if we made relationships the goal? What if we thought of each new customer as a first date, that all-important new connection that you hope will turn into a meaningful, long-term relationship? What if after offering a Daily Deal of your own, your palms were sweaty and your stomach churned with anticipation each time a customer arrived with one of those special vouchers?
For a first date, you don’t take a trip to Paris – you go out for coffee, drinks at a local happy hour, or even out to dinner. You sit and talk and compare notes on life.
Running with this metaphor, as the hypothetical salon owner from last week, perhaps I should consider running a Daily Deal on a product or service that costs significantly less in both time and money since both of them are valuable as a small business owner. Or, as a restaurant owner, I might offer $10 in free appetizers during my Happy Hour (there’s a good chance the customers – couponers – in question will buy drinks) instead of a buy-one-get-one deal.
The appearance of the voucher can be a cue to turn on the charm to start this new, exciting relationship with a happy customer who will return again and again.
As a couponer, I sincerely hope there’s a Daily Deal that can be crafted for your small business that invites me into this potential long-term relationship that supports my local economy.
As a small business participant, I urge you to remember – it’s not a trip to Paris.
Kelly Wilson is a copywriter for Verticalwerks Interactive Media. What’s your story? Let Verticalwerks help you share it with the world.