Saturday, March 8, 2014

Should You Consider Groupon?

On the NRWA E-List, Tiffany Benitez asked about using Groupon in her resume writing business.

Here is my response:

Groupon and similar services (LivingSocial, local daily deal sites, etc.) can be a great way to boost the visibility of your resume writing business and drive new clients and revenue. I personally know of one NLP (neurolinguistic programming) practitioner who secured 6,000 new clients to a membership program he promoted through Groupon.

A few years ago, I advised a marketing client on their local Daily Deal launch, and it was the Daily Deal site's most successful promotion to that date (and still ranks in the top 10 all-time), so this is a topic that I know something about! They sold out of their special offer, selling $30,000 in gift cards in under 12 hours, although the promotion was set to run for 72 hours (they netted $7,500 – the gift cards sold for 50% off their retail price, and they received 50% of the net revenues).

However, Groupon also has the potential to ruin your business. One-third of businesses who offer Groupon deals lose money on them. And really, you should look at it as a marketing expense, rather than a revenue generator. (There are better ways to jump start your marketing.) So tread carefully.

How do you know if Groupon (or similar services) are right for you?Services like this work best if you charge under $500 for your typical resume/cover letter package and/or you really need clients. Are you willing to use it as a lead generation service and work to build your mailing list in the hopes of converting some of these folks to full-price clients eventually?

Groupon *can* work for service businesses, but not how you would typically think of it. Instead of offering your typical resume and/or cover letter service as your Groupon special, instead offer a product or "fixed" service that can be a "lead-in" to your regular career communication services. Doing a resume for 65% off when it takes you 100% of the time and effort it normally does, doesn't work.

People who would be looking for a resume writer on Groupon aren't probably your "ideal" client. (However, you may attract some people who could *become* an ideal client.) And Groupon will either overwhelm you with customers (numerous photographers and other service businesses have almost been put out of business by Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) or you won't get much interest at all (but the listing will stay out there "forever" and hurt your other marketing because it will show a seriously discounted rate you're willing to offer -- even though YOU know the trade-off for the low rate is visibility and exposure, potential clients will just see that you're willing to offer your services "at 65% off!")

However, you can use Groupon (and other services, like as a lead-generation tool. But you need to do it in a way that you're leveraging your time wisely.

So, consider offering one of these instead:
  • Resume review (using a standardized template form) and ebook – regularly $79 (even if Groupon sells it for $39 -- you'd get around $20), you can do a review in 15 minutes (or, partner with a new resume writer to do the reviews and help serve resulting clients).
  • Discounted registration for an online teleseminar/webinar on a career-related topic (something super meaty -- like Using LinkedIn in a Job Search). It can also be a good way to drive traffic to an in-person workshop or seminar. [Groupon can be used to promote events and workshops -- in fact, these are more likely to be approved.]
  • Fixed-term membership program – for example, a 4-part course on writing your own resume. (As you know, lots of people who purchase self-help resources end up upgrading to a done-for-you service). Other fixed-term topics that may lead you into your full-priced resume services would be things NOT related to resumes/cover letters directly -- i.e., salary negotiation, interviewing strategies, making a career change, LinkedIn, or creating a brag book for your career.
  • One-on-one coaching session (structured session on a specific topic -- like interview preparation or LinkedIn Summary Review or salary negotiation) or a discount on a multiple-session coaching package (like 4 or 6 coaching sessions).

Consider your price point for what you offer carefully. You are asked to discount what you're offering up to 90% (off retail pricing). Know what your time value is (base price you charge per hour, even if you don't actually bill clients an hourly rate) so that you're not overcommitting yourself. Take into consideration not just the time you're spending servicing clients, but also the time to set up the offer and provide customer service (including answer questions from prospective buyers).

Before submitting your application to Groupon, prepare yourself/your business. For example, if you want to do offer #1 above, you'd want to put up a page on your website with the $79 critique + ebook offer (so they can see you already sell this at FULL price -- even if you haven't sold any yet). You also need to write the ebook so you can show them a sample if they ask. If you wanted to do offer #2 above, you'd go ahead and put together the workshop curriculum and teach it at least once (even if it's offered as a bonus at no charge for existing clients) -- so you can record it and provide a copy of the recording to Groupon to show the value (if requested). And, most important, have the systems in place to facilitate a flood of orders, if it materializes.

When you're using Groupon as a lead-generating tool, it's really to build your mailing list. So you want to make sure you have a mechanism in place to capture their information when they redeem their Groupon voucher -- for example, using an autoresponder (like AWeber) with a form to enter their name and voucher number that returns an email requesting they send their resume as an attachment, and providing the download link for the ebook, and then has a series of emails that lead them into the purchase of your other services (resume and cover letter, LinkedIn critique, LinkedIn training program, etc.). Again, you want it as automated as possible.

Other tips:
  • Limit the number of vouchers you sell. You can always extend the deal or offer it again, but a scarcity premise helps. (Groupon will have some input into the minimum number offered, but you can insist on a cap.)
  • Let buyers buy one voucher for themselves and one as a gift.
  • If you can, do *two* offers together -- one for a low-priced product (<$50) and one for a higher priced (>$150). This gives people a choice, so they can choose something they want. But make sure BOTH offers are on the same topic – like a "DIY" option for $49 and a done-for-you service for $199. (This also establishes the value of YOUR expertise -- they're paying you for your time.) 
  • Research offers made by similar practitioners in other markets. This can also help with your application to Groupon by showing what's worked in other areas.
  • Research what's being offered in YOUR area too. Look at past deals -- what sold well? What didn't?
  • Market it yourself too! One of the best things Groupon offers is visibility and exposure. Leverage it by sharing with YOUR tribe too (your existing mailing list, on your social media platforms, etc.)
If you get turned down by Groupon, consider local daily deal sites instead. Two local newspapers in my area offer their own daily deal sites. Google "daily deal" and "your city" to find a local site.

Here was an offer made on a local Daily Deal site affiliated with a local university):

Also, you could consider offering your OWN daily deal. You can use a service like Constant Contact's "Offers" (which has a social marketing component), or Facebook Offers on your Page (as long as you have at least 50 Likes).
What are your thoughts about using Groupon in your resume writing business? Leave me a comment or question below.


  1. This post is really interesting, I hadn't knew about groupon before. After reading your post, I think groupon is the best way to share your deals to get clients.

  2. I was having a really tough time trying to find a job recently. I was looking to change careers but did not know where to start. I gave her my resume for her to look over and the potential jobs that i wanted. she went through it and helped me out a lot in my job hunt. i am very thankful for her fast help and expertise in hr. i will make sure to tell all my friends and business contacts about her services.