Back in 2007 when the economy took a major hit Daily Deals were the hot new marketing trick for brands, especially restaurants. It might have felt like the perfect weapon. You mean we don’t have to spend any marketing dollars on paid media to attract new customers? Where do I sign up?
Daily Deals worked in the beginning because they were the new toy and everyone took the time to open those cherished emails, and jumped at the opportunity to get a HUGE discount. Then the issues started:
Did you really think these guys cared about your business?
- Artificial Traffic Spike and the Inability to Plan for Increased Traffic
- The Devaluing of the Brand and the Product
- Poor Customer Experience (you know what they say about first impressions)
- Attracting Deal Chasers, Not Your Target Customer
- Difficulty in Re-Targeting the Daily Deal Users (you don’t own the communication or the database)
- Groupon Taking Several Months to Reimburse Small Business Owners (causing major cash flow issues)
- Those Precious Emails are No Longer Being Viewed (offers have lost relevancy)
In the world of branding, you are only as good as your brand’s reputation. Brand managers work tirelessly to protect their brand’s image, this requires marketers to sometimes avoid using short cited traffic driving techniques. Whenever this discussion comes up the first stone is usually thrown at coupons, well today the stones and maybe even a few boulders are being thrown at Daily Deals especially the Groupons of the world.
That was then and this is now. New Research: Social Media Trends For Marketers In 2013 (Daily Deal Sites 80% Down?) via Forbes. It almost feels as if these days Daily Deals have become a punchline, even Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings uses Groupon to Deathwatch Restaurants, ouch.
Does this mean discounts, vouchers, coupons or incentives are dead? Let’s further dissect the difference.
A coupon is a voucher that entitles the holder a discount to a product or service. While, a discount is a cost reduction from the usual cost of something, typically given during a promotion also known as an incentive. There is in fact a difference in how you package a deal or an offer to your customer. When you lead with a discount it reflects poorly on the brand and often devalues the product. So what is a restaurant or Small Business to do? Restaurants replace discount dining with apps and loyalty programs. While others have turned to Social Media.
How Can Restaurant Brands Market Themselves Using Social Media?
This wonderful Infographic does a great job of demonstrating 10 ways that restaurants can use social media, including breaking down each network.
So what is up next for Small Businesses using Social Media? Facebook and Google+ are both doing their best to continue to update and add new features to help SMBs to market to their consumers.
What’s new on Facebook for Small Businesses? Have you heard about Graph Search yet?
In a USA Today article How to Use Facebook for Small Business Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small business, says it’s imperative that businesses take the time to update their listings to make sure they show up in Graph Search. You should have a current address, phone number and operating hours on your Facebook page. “In the same way that having a Web page really mattered 10 years ago, being part of Graph Search and having your company discoverable is really important today,” says Levy.
What about local or mobile marketing?
Where Daily Deals such as Groupon helped drive local traffic, the current trend for local marketing is SoLoMo. Huh? Social. Local. Mobile. A relatively new marketing trend that combines the increasing popularity of Social Media, Local Search and Mobile (Smartphone) usage. Why Do Restaurants Need SoLoMo?
One thing is clear, Daily Deals are no longer the only cost-effective medium to reach an audience without investing in paid media. Are there too many options today? Options are a double edge sword, they are great when they work and when they don’t… well lets just say its frustrating. So, what is the right fit for your restaurant brand? If you need help with direction, strategy or a plan leave a comment or send me note. The worst thing you can do is start down a path and then give it up. Social Media in particular has many long-term benefits, such as Creating Content for Your Restaurant will help with SEO.
There are better options today then using Daily Deals. Invest in a digital strategy, create content and build out your social media networks. Taking these steps will not only help you drive traffic, build relationships, improve your search rankings but also create a communication vehicle to offer loyal customers incentives without devaluing your restaurant’s brand. And yes, all of this can be accomplished without buying paid media.
Have you stopped using Daily Deals to market your restaurant brand or small business? Do you have a nightmare story you encountered when using a Daily Deal provider either as a consumer or as the establishment?