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Deals every day
Get out and spend — er, save — money

02/17/11
By John Andrews jandrews@hippopress.com



So you’d just gotten hip to the whole Groupon thing, getting big savings on swanky city outings every day, and they had to go and be jerks with their television ads.

You might have seen them during that football game without the Patriots in it a couple Sundays ago. Celebrity talking heads started talking about injustice and suffering around the world, but ended with a pitch to save cash at Groupon.com. The company has since pulled the ads, saying that they were trying to make fun of themselves rather than, you know, charity, but that “the joke didn’t come through.” True enough.
Now that Groupon has so angered you with its insensitivity and incompetent humor, where are you to turn? Surely there aren’t dozens more sites with virtually identical business models, are there?
Where have you been?

The flood of daily deal sites vary in their particulars, but most require a certain number of committed buyers before the deal can be redeemed. If that threshold isn’t met, you pay nothing, so they want to entice as many buyers as possible.

LivingSocial.com reeled me in with an offer I couldn’t refuse: a $20 Amazon credit for $10. Basically free money, since I shop there fairly frequently anyway. It was a one-time offer, though; like Groupon, LivingSocial specializes in meatspace deals, like local spa or restaurant gift certificates. Supposedly I’m subscribed to their Southern New Hampshire area, but that ends up being Boston North, and that’s pretty much just Boston.

The story’s much the same at other sites. Heck, at LocalDealSites.com, which provides a directory of more than 100 such companies, the “Select state” dropdown doesn’t even list New Hampshire. You can filter down to Boston, though, which shows you the 20 or so sites with Beantown deals.

While most include Boston as one of many cities, a few started out focusing just there. BostonBargains.net was founded in April 2010 and is based in Beverly. It looks to be in the middle of retooling itself into LocalDealFinder.com so it can expand into other markets. WowWhatSavings.com also began in Boston in September 2009, but now covers more than 80 cities.

What’s oddest about WowWhatSavings is its banner ads. You wouldn’t expect to see, say, a Pepsi ad on Coca-Cola’s website. So why are there ads for daily deal sites BuyWithMe.com and DealOn.com here? An advertiser’s an advertiser, I suppose.

Fact is, it’s getting easier and easier to set up one of these sites. One enterprising company in India, Agriya, has started offering software for creating your own “Groupon clone.” They explicitly point out that this phrase is just marketing lingo and that they didn’t steal any actual code from Groupon — pinky swear. In fact, they have “an army of nearly 200 highly trained developers, CSS coders and designers” of their own. One of their clients is the awesomely named Jewpon.com. Can’t make this up, folks.

Even with turnkey software, it’s managing the business relationships that will make or break one of these sites. Send your advertisers customers who will keep patronizing the business after the introductory deal and you’ll do well. Group buyers who purchase only that loss leader will likely turn off advertisers.
The lesson? Grab a wicked good deal, but keep supporting local business afterward.






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