MGE’s weekly webletter, Issue 31.
Groupon – Friend or Foe?
By MGE Marketing
The world of marketing is anything but boring and there’s always someone out there who thinks up new ideas to get people to buy products. Take Groupon, a deal-of-the-day website that started out in Chicago just several years ago and has exploded into an international $1.3 billion operation.
What’s Groupon? Well, take the old coupons in newspapers and magazines, multiply those with thousands of the same kind offering often outrageously cheap deals and, once a certain number of people agree to buy into those deals, get those coupons cashed in. Groupons are “group coupons” which can be validated when a predetermined number of people sign up for the offer. If that number is not met, the deal is off, so nobody loses any money. Groupon gets paid for every validated coupon – sweet deal. With Groupon promotion on Facebook and Twitter and special Groupon apps for Andoid, iPhone and Blackberry, it can’t go wrong – or so it seems.
(Related: The Latest Trends in Dental Marketing)
But, as with all sweet deals, there are snakes roaming in the grass. Groupon only works if the company that offers the deal is set up to actually deliver it. You see, Groupon did not put specific caps on the number of people who can respond to a deal, although they are handling this now. This means that there is a minimum required amount for the deal to go through, but there is no maximum. So you get the (actual) example of a coffee shop which was stampeded by over 1000 customers on the first day of their coffee deal. They couldn’t deal with that amount of business and after long waiting times, hundreds of customers left, disgruntled.
I know of at least two dentists who put a new patient cleaning, x-ray and exam offer with Groupon. One of those dentists had more than 900 responses and had no way of handling that amount of new patients with their existing staff without having them wait for months. The other dentist had less response – still well over 100 – but literally all of them already had a dentist and just came in for the free cleaning and exam. None of them wanted further treatment.I've decided whether I should list my practice on Groupon or not based off the tips from this post!Click To Tweet
Groupon bases its philosophy on the fact that if you flood a company with new customers, some of them will stay, and it’s up to the company itself to make this happen. In many cases it does – certainly when the new customers are happy with the service or product. But in the case of the two dentists I know, this didn’t happen and for the most part the Groupon deal meant a lot of extra work with very little revenue.
Yet, there are ways Groupon can work for dental practices.
First off, I would make very sure, before entering a Groupon offer, that there is a cap on the amount of people who can respond, and that the practice is set up to deliver to those people.
Next, Groupon only has two offers for dental practices: Cleaning and Whitening. Both cleaning and whitening can’t be done on those with periodontal problems (which is likely the case with most of them). In such a case, the doctor or hygienist will have to explain why perio treatment will have to be done first and that can result in upsets, since it was part of the offer. So I would keep this in mind and work out something that can be delivered and will truly help the new patient.
(Related: Dental Internet Marketing 101 – Part 1)
Lastly, and most importantly, I would work out beforehand what to do with the “shoppers” that only come for the offer and already have a dentist, or are not interested in further treatment. This is a matter of good salesmanship and real care to get this person to want the treatment he or she needs. The consults, exams and x-rays may reveal dental situations that need to be addressed, no matter if the person is interested or not, or whether he or she already has a dentist.
At the MGE Communication & Sales Seminar, dentists and their staff learn to deal with patient objections and fears, so they want the treatment they need. Having learned and practiced these techniques, those dentists can comfortably get new patients to come back and receive their full treatment plan.
So, with any marketing campaigns and endeavors, no matter how brilliant they are, it really comes down to the company or practice to turn responses from those campaigns into real conversions – i.e., buying customers. It’s part of the marketing process to figure those things out before launching into a campaign. And that’s how you can make things like Groupon work for you.
MGE’s Marketing Department provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. MGE may not be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.