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About Clay

Clay's recruiting and strategic consulting efforts over the past 20 years have provided firms in the printing and communications industries the talent and perspective that has enabled them to navigate the constant change they’ve faced.

His current company, the bleedingEDGE, provides digital printing firms with 1:1 marketing solutions that enable their small- and medium-sized clients to compete with larger competitors using a cooperative strategy and production model. In addition to the normal 1:1 marketing techniques of personalization and customization, the bleedingEDGE incorporates timing strategies, generational analysis and sociological factors in producing results well above the norm.

 

Why I Hate Groupon

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This post has been brewing inside me for a couple of months now. I think it started when I heard that Groupon had turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google. I couldn't see how these guys could turn down $6 billion. Maybe they had other ideas for the company—a grand vision to jump-start humanity and right the world's wrongs. I doubt it. We're not talking about Twitter or Facebook, here. Groupon is a damn coupon company.

Now here's why I hate Groupon:

1. Groupon is all about consumption. "We want you to buy and buy now." It doesn't make a difference what it is...just get out there and buy it. This model is just so archaic that in a time where conservation and sustainability, not endless consumption, should be in the front of our minds—Groupon is about just the opposite. Remember the attitude that put this country in insurmountable credit card debt a few years ago. It was all about stuff, more stuff, and more stuff on top of that. The Pied Piper has been here and gone...and we don't need him back any time soon.

2. Not only is Groupon about consumption, they don't care what they fling at you. They are non-discriminatory carnival barkers. In a world of the Long Tail and focused marketing, we expect not to be bombarded by irrelevant advertising—but Groupon's all about it. I'm 52 years old and I don't want to marketed diapers. Been there and done that. My data is flying all over the place—grab some of it and tell me about things that might matter to me. I have to manage enough information as it is...don't spam me.

3. Groupon is a one night stand for businesses. Now I know I shouldn't feel sorry for the lemmings out there masquerading as business owners—but I kind of do. How can you not be mesmerized by all the attention and media fawning Groupon's been getting? "If I don't jump on I'll miss the chance to be part of the "second coming." If a merchant is lucky, a Groupon promotion will bring in a surge of traffic. The business better be ready to handle this influx. If they're not, not only will they not get repeat business—they'll get negative word of mouth.

And, speaking of repeat business. Will all these new customers want to come back if they're not getting 50 percent off? Hard to say. And what sort of future communication will there be with these customers? If the merchant doesn't have a follow-up loyalty program in place, there won't be any. Groupon doesn't offer one. Maybe these are a couple of reasons; according to several independent reports—as much as 40 percent of businesses that use Groupon once, don't use it again. I'm sure there's conflicting reports otherwise, depending on who you talked to—but having it even surface as much as it has, raises concerns.

4. And, finally, the last reason (at least for the purpose of this piece) really isn't Groupon's fault, but I have to say it anyway. I'm so over hearing about the next "great thing," "the killer app," and a company that will change our lives once and for all and lead us into enlightenment. Why isn't it that we can't all just like, well...what we each want to like? Why is it that we have to always be alerted of the next "crusade to the cliff?" I haven't grown a tail, a pointy nose and my eyesight's fine (at least with my glasses). Groupon is a coupon company. It may wear a pretty dress and a nice pair of shoes...but it's still a coupon company.

If I could click my heals and wake up in my "Perfect World"...it would be a world where we reward giving, not consuming...and the businesses I patronize understand that. It would be where we could enjoy our journey with less, not more...where conservation and conversation are the priority, not an afterthought.

I love Twitter and what it's meant to the world and, specifically, to me. I'm not a big fan of Facebook—but I can't help but give it kudos for being part of the solution to healing some of the earth's ills. And it's bad enough we have Foursquare. But at least I can see some potential in it.

But Groupon...

*Oh, gotta go, just got an offer for half off on a tanning session. Wonder how much time I have left?*

A successful blog post is when the comment flow provides more insight than the post itself. Please comment and add to the flow.

I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg or at my blog "On the Road to Your Perfect World."

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Robert - Posted on March 28, 2011
Clay, wake up! Our lives are about consumption! We don't eat, we die. We don't put gas in the car or coins in the bus, we get fired. While conservative consumption should be a way of life rather than the conspicuous consumption which we seem to excel at as a country, we are still consumers. How many electronic devices do you have and how many do you need? How about software programs? What kind of car do you drive? Yeah, me too: Guilty, guilty and guilty. The purpose of advertising is to enhance brand and cause consumption. Are you suggesting we do away with advertising? Groupon is just another form of advertising, one that in it's current form has a limited life span. It will of course become something else as more sophisticated ways of marrying databases and geo information evolve (how about instant groupons on your phone based on your location? Or scan this QR code in the window for today's Groupon). But at it's heart, it's doing what it's suppose to do: Drive revenue and brand awareness. What's wrong with that? And it does it in it's purest capitalist form. An offer is extended and either taken or rejected. Unless your real target is capitalism, then I agree it has limited application in a "giving society" model that would have to be much more socialist or communist in approach to work. But consumption still occurs, unless you are just giving something that has no perceived value. Grit your teeth and bear it. Groupon won't be around if it doesn't satisfy both sides of of transaction; a happy customer and a happy proprietor, and continues to work in an antiquated broadcast mode. To me, the boys at Groupon are fools not to have taken the $9 billion and ran. The long term risk of this being a fad item is pretty high.
Jen - Posted on March 24, 2011
Interesting points... Yes, my infatuation and patience with Groupon and LivingSocial is wearing thin. I do wish there was a once a week and here's what I like option.
mj - Posted on March 23, 2011
Good points as do you really want to be the cheapo guy since you will always be known as the lowest price race to the bottom? NY Times did a few good articles (from a business owner standpoint) on whether Groupon is worth it (comments section also provides great insight): http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/is-groupon-ruining-retailing/ http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/doing-the-math-on-a-groupon-deal/
Matt - Posted on March 23, 2011
Wow...one email a day from a company YOU signed up for sends you off the deep end? Easy on the Lattes buddy. I signed up for intro Scuba lessons. Something I always wanted to try but doubtful I would have other wise...and if I like it, I just might spend a little for the next lesson at the Scuba shop. On the flip side, I can save at restaurants I always go to anyway. I love the fact that they tell you the deal in the subject line so I can just delete it when those unwanted tanning salon deals pop-up. I find this much more useful than Foresquare OH wait! Clay is getting a coffee if I hurry I can say hi to him...damn these red lights...
M - Posted on March 22, 2011
I love groupon as it gives me a chance to try new places and if I like it, I return, if not, at least I only payed half price to try it!!!
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Robert - Posted on March 28, 2011
Clay, wake up! Our lives are about consumption! We don't eat, we die. We don't put gas in the car or coins in the bus, we get fired. While conservative consumption should be a way of life rather than the conspicuous consumption which we seem to excel at as a country, we are still consumers. How many electronic devices do you have and how many do you need? How about software programs? What kind of car do you drive? Yeah, me too: Guilty, guilty and guilty. The purpose of advertising is to enhance brand and cause consumption. Are you suggesting we do away with advertising? Groupon is just another form of advertising, one that in it's current form has a limited life span. It will of course become something else as more sophisticated ways of marrying databases and geo information evolve (how about instant groupons on your phone based on your location? Or scan this QR code in the window for today's Groupon). But at it's heart, it's doing what it's suppose to do: Drive revenue and brand awareness. What's wrong with that? And it does it in it's purest capitalist form. An offer is extended and either taken or rejected. Unless your real target is capitalism, then I agree it has limited application in a "giving society" model that would have to be much more socialist or communist in approach to work. But consumption still occurs, unless you are just giving something that has no perceived value. Grit your teeth and bear it. Groupon won't be around if it doesn't satisfy both sides of of transaction; a happy customer and a happy proprietor, and continues to work in an antiquated broadcast mode. To me, the boys at Groupon are fools not to have taken the $9 billion and ran. The long term risk of this being a fad item is pretty high.
Jen - Posted on March 24, 2011
Interesting points... Yes, my infatuation and patience with Groupon and LivingSocial is wearing thin. I do wish there was a once a week and here's what I like option.
mj - Posted on March 23, 2011
Good points as do you really want to be the cheapo guy since you will always be known as the lowest price race to the bottom? NY Times did a few good articles (from a business owner standpoint) on whether Groupon is worth it (comments section also provides great insight): http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/is-groupon-ruining-retailing/ http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/doing-the-math-on-a-groupon-deal/
Matt - Posted on March 23, 2011
Wow...one email a day from a company YOU signed up for sends you off the deep end? Easy on the Lattes buddy. I signed up for intro Scuba lessons. Something I always wanted to try but doubtful I would have other wise...and if I like it, I just might spend a little for the next lesson at the Scuba shop. On the flip side, I can save at restaurants I always go to anyway. I love the fact that they tell you the deal in the subject line so I can just delete it when those unwanted tanning salon deals pop-up. I find this much more useful than Foresquare OH wait! Clay is getting a coffee if I hurry I can say hi to him...damn these red lights...
M - Posted on March 22, 2011
I love groupon as it gives me a chance to try new places and if I like it, I return, if not, at least I only payed half price to try it!!!