Does Groupon Have an Application in Printing?

Have you heard of Groupon? It’s a deal-of-the-day Website that is localized to major markets in the United States and Canada. The first market for Groupon was Chicago, followed soon thereafter by Boston, New York City and Toronto.

As of October 2010, Groupon serves more than 150 markets in North America and 100 markets in Europe, Asia and South America. It launched in November 2008.

The company offers one “Groupon” per day in each of the markets it serves. The Groupon works as an assurance contract using The Point’s platform: if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all. If the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. This reduces risk for retailers, who can treat the coupons as quantity discounts as well as sales promotion tools. Groupon makes money by getting a cut of the deal from the retailers.

Usually the discount is around 50 percent and comes in the form of a gift certificate. For example, buy a $50 gift certificate for $25. Here in Chicago, there is actually more than one deal offered each day, and the company has even branched out into the suburbs.

I get an e-mail in my in-box every day telling me what the deal of the day is. There have been restaurants that are right down the street from me essentially offering a 50 percent discount. I love this idea for retail. So here is my question:

Could we use this concept in the print world? Many print shop owners, sales managers and salespeople seem to be looking for creative ideas to keep the presses running during non-peak times. So what if you used your social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN to advertise your own “groupon” You could offer $1,000 worth of printing for $500 to new customers only, but only if 25 prospects took you up on it.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • http://MikeCorson Mike Corson

    Discounted business is not necessarily going to be repeat business. I would assert this type of client is price sensitive and will only purchase based on price motivations. In the end, you’ve commoditized your offering…again. Having said that, I think if you can develop a Groupon type offer to introduce yourself to new prospects with little or no downside risk…I’d be up for that.

  • http://SteveMills Steve Mills

    Creative thinking Kelly. I think Groupon could be used for a lot of businesses.

    Just to clarify, I have no connection to Groupon, yet. I might use their service in the future though.

  • http://MichelleBracali Michelle Bracali

    It’s a clever idea and worth considering. I love Groupon. I agree with Kelly, printers need to consider/implement new ideas. The world is changing. We need to change with it.

  • http://RyanMcAbee Ryan McAbee

    Thanks for posting some good food for thought Kelly!

    Offering incentives to gain business can be a good idea, but offering significant discounts to an unknown group can be risky. As Mike pointed out, users of Groupon may be only motivated via price and not translate into any repeat business. (This Retail Doc posts furthers this notion

    A less risky idea may be to motivate your existing or past clients with special offers. If the offer and service are superior, those customers can act as perfect word-of-mouth referrals that bring in new clients.

  • http://Kelly Kelly

    Thanks for all the great feedback, folks! I agree, Mike, that there is some danger of commoditization, but the benefits might outweigh the danger…and at the end of the day, one of my favorite sayings is, “WHY NOT?”

  • http://BarryWalsh Barry Walsh

    Segmenting your market is an old idea that’s new again.

    It used to be called GPO printing.

    Today…printers are setting up subsidiary companies to shelter their identities while filling open capacity through web2print; from brokers; or from online clearing houses.

    Working with brokers to fill open capacity has saved some smart printer’s businesses as of late. It’s all about contributing to overhead. Breaking even on 30% of your presstime by selling it cheap to a broker might not make sense to many printers…but it does pay your expenses on down days, protecting your profits earned on the 70% capacity you sold normally.

    Some printers just can’t grasp this idea. Segmenting your marketing and pricing.

  • http://James James

    As a graphic designer, I would be all over the idea of a Groupon-like platform for print deals. As long as I KNOW I will have a customer looking for X amount of brochures or whatever, within the year. That’s the tricky part. It’s kind of a gamble for designers/agencies.


  • http://MichelleTaylor Michelle Taylor

    It appears a social buying website (similar to Groupon) for the printing industry is already in the works. I ran into this today while searching for just such a site.