3 things to consider before your company offers a Groupon

It’s been almost a year since I moved to New York City!  It’s been incredible, invigorating and full of all the challenges I was looking for.

I’ve also been loving the truly mobile experience in the U.S., which  makes navigating the city a pleasure.  Google Maps are fully optimized with local establishments and estimated travel times, Spotcycle finds me my nearest Citi Bike, HopStop manages my subway ride should I need to go above 52nd Street, and Uber picks me up when I get stuck in Brooklyn in a snowstorm!

Finding local services in a new city can also be overwhelming with so much to choose from.  I have found Yelp to be useful for the information they compile, though was saddened to hear from a friend who runs a small organic business in Oakland, CA, that good reviews are often suppressed until they signed up for an advertising package. (read more on their rumored extortionate practices here).  This unfortunately makes me very sceptical about believing what should be unbiased ratings.

So Groupon has quickly become my best option for trying out local products and services for myself, particularly for a grad student on a budget!  I’d like to consider myself somewhat of a Groupon connoisseur having picked some gems so far – many of the places I’ve been introduced to through a coupon, have now become my locals.

However, I have also come across several businesses who don’t seem ready to make the most out of coupon leads.  And it’s certainly not a good acquisition fit for every company.  The following are just a few considerations that marketing managers should make before offering any coupon deal:

  1. Are you staff informed of the deals available?  Are they aware of the potential lifetime value of first-time customers?  The customer experience starts with the booking process, and although coupon customers may not be paying the full price, their first-time experience will have the most impact on their future business.  Coupon customers should ideally be treated with as much special attention as any other customer, rather than seen as a one-time bargain hunter.  (Groupon makes a point of reminding their members to tip for the full value of the service, so staff should also be rewarded by good customers).
  2. Do you have the right systems in place to redeem coupons?  Particularly when a retailer has multiple outlets, it’s essential that a centralized coupon redemption system is in place to ensure coupons are only used once – or that credit can be stored for multiple uses.  Keep in mind too that many coupons are now mobile, so customers will not necessarily have a physical print-out of the coupon for your records.  Make sure you have a barcode scanner or another system to capture this information.
  3. Can you afford to discount your services in large quantities?  This seems obvious, but if each service is offered as a loss, can your core business support this?  I feel this is particularly pertinent for business which are just starting out, or struggling through a downturn.  Make sure you know what percentage of leads will likely convert to established customers, and how long it will take them to start being profitable.  Groupon certainly have very strict terms and conditions for vendors and if a company can’t make good on the offers, expect legal action (as was the fate for my beloved Yoga Studio in Hong Kong).

For a great overview on the finer details of Groupon, here’s a very helpful article: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/tips/groupon.htm




4 things Grad School taught me that the best Event Managers should already know (VIDEO)

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Silvia Pellegrini at Events Uncovered, a great online space for event experts to meet, discuss, learn and share their knowledge of the industry.

In our video interview, I review some of the key marketing concepts discussed in my Masters Program at NYU, and how they relate to the world of event management.

〔Episode 46〕4 things Grad School teaches that Event Managers should know -Marianne Bunton
Video interview for Events Uncovered

In the second part of the interview (members only content) I talk in more detail about sponsorship activation – an area of specialization that I am particularly passionate about. The majority of corporate events are only possible with the support of sponsors, and as event organizers, we are in a position to maximize their involvement and help them achieve their return on investment.  Moreover, with meaningful integration, sponsors can really enhance the event experience for all guests. Silvia and I discuss how this can be done within a framework for managing all partners’ expectations, understanding your audiences needs, and being creative.

I welcome your comments and feedback, along with any insights that you’ve learnt along the way!

5 pointers, Before you even start your digital strategy

The alternate title for this post is essentially ‘the most important things I learnt in school this year’ so it’s fitting that my first, and overriding theme comes from my digital marketing professor, Joanne Tombrakos.  All these ideas have been strong currents running through the course, and I’m so glad I have this foundation now, before delving further into the techy stuff. And that is why my title stresses that these are things to note BEFORE putting pen to paper, or hand to mouse.


1. All the technology in the world means nothing without the intersection of humanity

SEO, Mobile, Attribution, UX, Algorithms, Big Data and Analytics may sound intimidating, but they are all just vehicles for connecting, and ultimately people will decide how effective they are.  It’s an old adage, but one that I don’t think has changed: ‘The customer is always right’.  Your metrics might tell you when a strategy is not working, and the best way to understand why is to look beyond the numbers and put yourself in your audiences shoes.

2. Inbound-Marketing-David-Meerman-Scott

What has changed with digital, is that push marketing is no longer as effective.  Having worked in media selling advertising space, this certainly requires a shift in perception, but the poor performance of online and mobile banner ads speak for themselves.

Living in the always-on digital space, it’s easy to see why customers object to interruption techniques, and prefer useful interactions with brands.  As Jay Baer says, the future of marketing could be in Youtility content.

As marketeers today, we are selling to the educated consumer, so understanding their real needs is the key to offering them an engaging and meaningful experience, thereby pulling them into a relationship with your organization.

3. TL DR

I’m sure you have a ton of things you want me to know about your product, but unless I’m specifically looking for details at the time, you’re probably wasting your digital breath.

And it’s not just the millennial in me that wants you to keep it to 140 characters.

The good news is that we’re consuming more media than ever before, but as a result we’re facing information overload, and dwindling attention spans.  We have multiple screens, streams and social platforms to keep up and as a result, we scan online rather than read. So again, know your audience, and keep “TL;DR” (Too Long, Didn’t Read) in mind when crafting messages and writing copy that fascinates.

4. Listen

We’ve all been told that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen more than we speak.  And we should be eternally grateful that digital platforms allow us more listening tools than ever before.  Companies who take advantage of these insights and instant feedback channels will benefit from far better relationships with their community – and you never know when you might need them to come to your rescue.

5. Be Agile

The need for agility has become more important than ever before in digital marketing.  As new technologies and platforms emerge, our communities evolve and consumer needs change.  And in the meantime, marketeers still have to be monitoring, adapting and optimizing campaigns as they happen.  Real-time marketing is now just smart marketing.


Technology cannot replace human and cultural insights…yet.  So until it does, marketeers still have the bulk of the work to do in authentic storytelling and sharing meaning with audiences.  The digital platforms and techniques you use will get you there, but not without these key concepts as your foundation.

5 SEO Essentials

And, my very first infographic!  All thanks to the wonderful tools and templates available on Piktochart.

5 SEO Essentials Infographic

Thanks also to the following for the source statistics:

1. comScore, Inc, August 2013: https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/8/comScore_Releases_July_2013_US_Search_Engine_Rankings

2. http://marketandconvert.com/blog/search-engine-optimization/hiring-an-seo-company-how-to-screen-prospects-and-chose-a-winner/

3. http://socialmediatoday.com/brianna5mith/1373106/50-mobile-marketing-facts-will-blow-you-away