Groupon is bad for business – no April fool

According to BusinessWeek, Groupon could be the fastest growing business of all time – going from zero to rejecting a rumoured six billion dollar offer from Google two years later on the basis it seriously undervalued the company. It's now eyeing up a twenty five billion dollar IPO. Not bad for a discount voucher business.

My sister-in-law recently bought a £300 spa package for £100 via Groupon. Haircut, massage, manicure and pedicure. She's delighted.

"Would you go back to the spa?" I ask. "Definitely" she replies. And then came the qualifier, unprompted: "When they run another Groupon deal."

In other words, the spa in question secured a transaction and eliminated themselves from building a mutually-valued relationship. My sister-in-law will now find it impossible to value the service in her mind at £300, or indeed much more than £100. And with Groupon taking 40-50% commission, it will have been a loss-making transaction at that (following standard accounting principles).

Perhaps Groupon recognises this challenge. Its new service, Groupon Now, is a real-time and timebound play. Got an empty table for lunch? Would you like to fill it than have it go empty? Then promote it now to people looking for lunch and looking for a bargain. This is a classic focus on so-called perishable stock, and reminds me of Mercata and LastMinute of a decade ago.

This could be useful. It could give your business the opportunity to present its wares to as yet unsatsified consumers, now, whilst helping to 'sweat your assets'. But this must translate into long-term loyalty (excepting transient passing trade) for your business to reap the full lifetime value of the customer, and indeed all the friends and family she might bring with her.

In The Business of Influence (Amazon UK, Amazon US) I discuss what I consider to be the endgame here, buyer marketing. Rather than business marketing products and services to consumers, buyer marketing entails consumers marketing their need to potential suppliers.

"Anyone out there want to serve me mushroom pizza this lunchtime?" "I need to dry clean my winter coat; any offers?" Wrap in the qualitative aspects of so-called social commerce, and a business should be able to articulate the value of its offer in its response, not just its price.

There isn't an app for that. But there should be.

Best regards, Philip and the MarCom Professional team.


Top 5 reasons PR firms should ask clients/prospects for access to Google Analytics data

by Andrew Smith of escherman

In March 2010, I gave a presentation on PR and SEO at the CIPR HQ in Russell Square, London, to around 75 senior in-house communications directors and managers. I asked how many of them used Google Analytics data from their own corporate sites to inform their PR and communications strategies. Not a single hand went up. In the intervening months, I’ve been boring for Britain to anyone who’ll listen that asking clients for access to Google Analytics should be one of the key questions any PR should be asking.  More...


Oh No! We don’t do THAT [on tv - but everywhere else]!

by Stephan Dahl of MIddlesex University

So… the alcohol industry has slammed a report by Gerard Hastings and Nick Sheron in BMJ that brandished the self regulation code as “clumsily imposed”, and asks for much tighter regulation - similar to the regulations currently in force in France. The report features a statement from Diageo (owner of Guinness amongst other) describing how well they (and others) comply with the various codes of practice.

Of course, it would be correct to point out that the last upheld complaint against Diageo by the ASA was in 2006 - and that since then no complaint was upheld. More...


Nordstrom does Twitter right

by David Meerman Scott of David Meerman Scott

This morning I popped over to my local Nordstrom to check out what's new for Spring. David Angiulo helped me choose some styling shirts that I can wear with my Peter Millar blue suit. As we were heading to the cash register, he asked me if I'm on Twitter. It was a very low key, very casual question. It did not feel pushy in any way.

"Absolutely," I said. "Are you?"

He gave me his card and included his Twitter handle @NordstromDave

Damn. I wanted to learn more.

Dave says he uses Twitter to keep his customers informed. More...


Guy Kawasaki on the Art of Enchantment

by Brian Solis of

Guy Kawasaki is nothing less than enchanting. His vision and experience come to life through an inspired art of storytelling that is, well, inspiring. Guy possesses a truly unique and special talent to captivate your heart, mind, and attention.

I first followed Guy when he was chief evangelist at Apple. He introduced businesses to an entirely new art form marketing through engagement and empowerment. Over the years, I’ve also followed his work in Silicon Valley spanning from to Alltop as well as pored over every book he’s written. More...


Did LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman send you an email?

by Rebecca Caroe of Creative Agency Secrets

Image via Wikipedia

I expect you all just got the email from Reid Hoffman congratulating himself on recruiting 1 million members to Linked In. Lovely. Except he failed in two significant ways

The email was not transactional, it was marketing. So the CAN-SPAM law applies. It requires, amongst other things

Physical contact data for your organization.
Unsubscribe instructions.
Seems incredible that a major online player messed up like this.

Missed opportunity

But the main thing Linked In did wrong is to miss out on sending us all a unique ‘thank you’. More...


Firefox 4 downloads infographic

by Simon Hilliard of Racepoint Group

From Mashable More...


The Rules of Social Media Engagement

by Brian Solis of

A study published in 2010 surfaced a startling statistic, “75 percent of employers say their business has no formal policy instructing employees on the appropriate use of social networking sites on the job.” The report, “Employer Perspectives on Social Networking,” compiled date from 34,000 businesses in 35 countries.

Does your organization have a formal policy regarding employee use of social media? Perhaps better asked, does your organization offer training, guidelines, and insights to help employees excel in new media on behalf of your business?

In the same study, 63% of employers that employed social networking policies reported that those policies improved productivity. More...


Americans View 3.8 Billion Video Ads in February

by David H Deans of Digital Lifescapes

comScore released data showing that 170 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in February for an average of 13.6 hours per viewer. The total U.S. Internet audience engaged in more than 5.0 billion viewing sessions during the course of the month.

Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at, ranked as the top online video content property in February with 141.1 million unique viewers. VEVO ranked second with 49.0 million viewers, followed by Microsoft Sites with 48.8 million, Yahoo! Sites with 46.7 million, and with nearly 46.7 million. More...


CIPR social media measurement guidance

by Philip Sheldrake of Influence Crowd LLP

The AVE (advertising value equivalence) approach to PR measurement and evaluation was simple. And utterly wrong.

It’s a specious sum based on false assumptions using an unfounded multiplier and only addressing a fraction of the PR domain – a greater waste of time and effort you couldn’t hope to find.

Measurement and evaluation is essential, but requires real strategic understanding, diligence and perseverance. For me, it represents yet another distinction between the 21st Century PR professional and the 20th Century practitioner. More...


Why Facebook’s popularity is great news for copywriters, and bad news for article writing sweatshops

by Matt Ambrose of The Copywriter's Crucible

When one door closes, another door opens.

Long time readers will know that I’m not a fan of the $10 (or less) per keyword article copywriting gigs you find on freelance bidding websites, like Elance and Guru. I pity the copywriters that feel forced into these jobs, where they’re paid sweat shop wages to hammer out 10-20 articles a day just so they don’t have to live in a box.

Hopefully, these low paid writing jobs might be on their way out.

Following Google’s recent ‘Panda’ More...


10 Rules For Online Community Success

by Vanessa DiMauro of Leader Networks

The poet T.S. Eliot once wrote "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter."  Truer words were never spoken as it more difficult to efficiently convey an idea or message than to wax poetic.

As social is an emerging trend, many have put down their soapboxes to talk about online communities. Consequently, there is some good (and lots of just OK) advice "out there" on building online customer communities -- yielding a great deal of information to sort through and parse.  More...


The Times they are still a chargin’, but the numbers are changing

by Simon Hilliard of Racepoint Group

A second round of digital subscriber figures from The Times, and what it means for public relations practitioners

Murdoch’s band of digital revenue folks have released a second set of subscriber figures, eight months after The Times paywall went up. In short, all the line graphs in Murdoch’s boardrooms must be pointing skywards.     Digital only monthly subscriptions rose to 79,000, up 60% on the figures revealed four months ago.

The flip side of this success is the growth of digital subscriptions is slowing, from 50,000 new subs in the first four months of the paywall to 29,000 subs in the second. More...


Mobile Feature Phones Still Popular for Texting

by David H Deans of Digital Lifescapes

While smartphone demand continues to grow, many mobile phone users are still purchasing the less-expensive feature phones. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, during 2010 feature phones comprised over 75 percent of the handset market.

Consumers purchase feature phones for a variety of reasons including the need for a device that is optimized for a specific application, such as text messaging.

"A messaging phone is a feature phone that has been enhanced for messaging services including SMS, MMS, mobile email, and mobile IM. More...