Last week, old friend and thought-leader Dave Martin fired off a tweet that included a link to a new concept - Groupon Now. It is important that everyone in radio sees this, so take a look, and then let’s talk about its implications.
We have discussed Groupon many times as part of a larger and ongoing conversation we’ve been having with clients about coupons, the economy, and the changing retail psyche of Americans. It is part of a major trend in the way the entire structure of advertising is changing, including the role of media outlets as how consumers shop.
Our Tech Surveys for Rock and Public Radio have each pointed to this phenomenon, and we have urged broadcasters to step up and launch initiatives that aggressively utilize coupons and deals. Similarly, our “Marketing To Men” study underscored the potential that radio has to realize revenue via discount couponing programs.
A recent blog post that was catalyzed by Jelli’s Mike Dougherty discussed the concept of adapting the radio sales model to something more desirable and current than traditional radio advertising: deals rather than spots. We thought he was onto something before we saw this Groupon Now video. After watching it, you may agree that new thinking about the traditional advertising model is imperative.
This Groupon Now service hasn’t been activated yet, but it is a potential game-changer that could rock the local radio sales paradigm. Too often, there’s the myth that the Internet is global, but in fact, a key to cashing in on the power of the real-time web may in fact be right there on your main drag and in your urban and suburban strip malls.
That’s how Groupon sees it, using geo-location, timely coupons, and speedy scanning to bring together consumers and local businesses in an “anywhere/anytime” setting.
Guess who’s not in the picture?
That’s right – the beleaguered radio rep who is still primarily selling “reactive” advertising – packages of :30s and :60s. Radio becomes the dreaded “middle man.” And it sure seems like other traditional media - TV and print - will feel the impact of this type of direct marketing concept, too.
In the same way that Kindle and book lovers bypassed Barnes & Noble and Borders, Groupon is connecting real people with aggressive retailers to generate revenue and create win-wins. Sadly, there’s a “win” missing here.
Radio's time-honored concept of connecting customers to retailers continues to revolve around tired remotes, street team, the station van, a card table, banners, and minor giveaways. When stations do many of these each week, they lose their potency. And local advertisers are well aware this model is no longer as effective as it once was.
The Groupon Now concept is proactive. You tap the “I’m hungry” button and nearby restaurant coupons appear. If successful, Groupon Now combines the natural inclination of the consumer to search out great deals on an immediate basis with the needs of area businesses to generate store traffic – right now.
As radio bypasses many small businesses like Big Frank because “they can’t afford us,” Groupon takes them all, generates store traffic in a controlled, analytical environment and continues to win over fans with a scalable model. With no sales commissions.
As Paul has pointed out in this blog, competing for the same 7% share of media dollars with 30 other stations in the market misses the other 90-something percent of the pie. And because many radio outlets have been slow to adapt to the couponing/“make a deal” mentality, the door is open for Groupon, Living Social, and the many imitators that will surely follow.
Now some companies and clusters have gotten aggressive with couponing programs, adding them to the menu of marketing alternatives. But no one, to our knowledge, has committed to creating their own version of Groupon, available in the local marketplace.
In preparing this blog, I started surfing around our client stations as well as other well-known radio brands to see what is happening on the couponing front. Some broadcasters are developing bona fide programs, while others are giving lip service. So despite some concerted efforts, I happened across too many examples where upon visiting the coupons or deals page, I was told that there weren’t any available at this time.
It makes you wonder whether a consumer would ever visit that station’s page again.
There is nothing in Groupon Now that any local radio station, cluster, or company couldn’t develop themselves. But as we continue to talk to broadcasters about coupons and deal programs, several lament the same thing – the sales people have a hard time putting deals and discounts together, and attracting retailer buy-in.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see a single account rep in that video. And that’s the point.
Radio could do this, and here's a list of the requirements:
- A great mobile app (I know where you can accomplish that part of the equation)
- A vision (Groupon’s done the heavy lifting for you)
- A powerful, responsive cume
- An active database, solid personalities, and brand equity
With these assets, many stations could be off to the races, successfully challenging, if not beating Groupon Now at their own game.
But to win the race – much less to compete in it – you have to get to the track. And Big Frank’s not going to wait around.
Dave Martin has written a blog on the same topic. You can access it here.