Google Should Only Buy Groupon if…

December 1, 2010

They’re smart.

The biggest purchase in Google’s long history of acquisitions has yet to happen, but it’s about to.  It’s a $6 Billion plus offer that makes a lot of sense for both companies.

Having never met Groupon’s founders, or any members of the team other than a few phone calls with some of their sales reps, I cannot attest to the vision or goals of the company.  But to be acquired by Google can’t be too far down on anyone’s wish list.

As far as the huge valuation that Google has given them, I would warn that Groupon is worth every bit of it, and then some. In a field that is quickly becoming overcrowded with clones, Groupon has demonstrated an ability to stay relevant, and become even more relevant.  As the local coupon company that took a deal a day to the next level, as the company that today thousands try to imitate, Groupon has set themselves apart.  And through the right kind of marketing, and the right kind of positioning, they’ve built an army of potential consumers for every brand.

Here’s a hint that every potential business owner should take from Groupon: create a way for consumers to get deals on products that they most likely would have bought anyway at full price, and you’re bound to make anyone happy.  In a lot of ways, that was Walmart’s vision when they got Sam Walton got started back in the early 60’s.  Serve the under-served yes, but offer deals on products people need or want based on another company’s advertising.

In any case, am I surprised that Google didn’t try to create their own clone? Yes. Am I surprised they’re interested in Groupon’s business? No. It opens up new doors to Google’s plans to take control of the “local” business of mobile and web apps.  Using Groupon in conjunction with other Google services may prove Groupon to be the company’s most successful acquisition ever.

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Email Me Updates

December 30, 2009

There is a local brewery near my home town in New Jersey that continues to email me.  Here is the story behind that email.

I went with a friend to the brewery, which offers a small casual style bar where you can come in and try to featured beers.  There were a few small groups of people there, the servers were friendly, and they love to talk about beer.

As we were leaving, we were offered the chance to join a mailing list by simply our email address on the bottom of our check.  I was happy to do so.

Now, whenever they plan a new event, or come out with a new brew, I get an email from them telling me all about it.  It is a short email, usually one paragraph in length, that gets directly to the point.  And they don’t email me when they have nothing to say.  It’s perfect.  And even though I no longer live in the area, I continue to stay on the email list because I visit from time to time.

It’s that simple. If you are a restaurant, a bar, a retail store…anything where people might visit you again and again, why not have a mailing list like this.  The cost to do so is minimal, and the reward can be huge.  It allows people to keep up to date with what you are doing without harassing them when they don’t care.  It can increase customer loyalty, meaning that more of your customers will give you repeat business.  And guess what, they will probably bring their friends in too!

Even this blog offers Email Updates to anyone that wants them.


Innovative TV Show Release – Archer, from FX

September 22, 2009

I am a big fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and because of that, I am now a big fan of the FX Network’s strategic team.

For those of you that were not witness to the super secret sneak preview of FX’s new animated show, Archer, I recommend checking it out.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do so until the season officially premieres in January.

FX decided to silently unveil it’s new show following the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia last week.  This is a popular move by many networks because they feel that they will have a strong audience, the reason the show directly following the Super Bowl is such a coveted spot.

But what FX did that was so interesting was that they never told you what the show was going to be.  They had coded messages saying, “Stay tuned for a secret sneak preview of our new hit show”, running throughout the Sunny premiere.  Even the TV Guide Channel, and most guides on digital cable providers showed the spot after Sunny as blank to To Be Announced.

What this successfully did was add to the hype.  Why wouldn’t I stick around and check out the show?  I was curious.  They did their job.

I watched, and I loved every minute of the dark, racy animated comedy.  They had the right audience at the right time.  And then they dropped another bombshell on us, this was just a pilot and the series would not officially come out for another 4 months.  Now it’s time for the hype machine to get started, and if it goes the way FX hopes it will go, the January premiere will be huge.

The anticipation and conversation has already started here, here, and here.  This was a great way to get the word out on a new show, one that is creative and most likely will be copied by other networks.


Cash for Clunkers: A Job Well Done

July 31, 2009

cash-for-clunkersIf you can remember back to a time when I posted about Google’s 10^100 Contest, then you can see that I mentioned having put in a suggestion of my own.  And even though you may think that I am lying, my submission was almost word for word what the “Cash for Clunkers” program has become.

The original description of my idea looked something like this:

“Set up a program, backed by the government or some independent investors, that uses a pool of money to offer car buying vouchers for people that trade in older cars for newer, more fuel efficient vehicles.  This helps people in multiple ways.  It can increase the number of cars that are sold, giving a much needed boost to the economy.  And it can make the average fuel efficiency of cars in the country go up more than it would without this help.”

So, of course, when I saw the initial idea for Cash for Clunkers, I was very excited.  I backed the program, thinking that it would definitely help do exactly what it was designed to do; spur the struggling auto industry, and get more fuel efficient vehicles on the road.

And now, less than a week after the program was launched, it appears that the program was so successful that it ran out of the appropriated money that was supposed to last until November 1st.  For more information on exactly what the Cash for Clunkers program is, how you can take advantage, and how the government is adding more funds to help keep the program alive, check out this article from The Politico.


Google Alerts for Small Business Entrepreneurs

July 14, 2009

logo_betaGoogle Alerts are a great way to stay up on news on any topic that might interest you.  What a Google Alert does is take any new blog posts, news articles, or web pages that mention a word or phrase of your choice, and email it to you directly.

For example, I receive daily emails on anything new for “Zach Heller“, “Be Innovation“, and “innovation blog“.  This helps me keep track of topics that I am interested in writing about, as well as stay up to date on anything the web has to say about me.

For entrepreneurs, these alerts can help you keep track of any new updates in your industry, anyone speaking about your company, or any deals your competitors may be offering, without having to do any of the research.  For example, you can set an alert for the industry name that you are in, one for each of your competitors names, and one for your company name.  Then you will start receiving emails on a daily basis with any new information on those topics.

It’s that simple, and it can really help you stay on top of your game. The last thing you need is for some important piece of information to be out on the web and you don’t ever take the time to look for and find it.  And trust me, any time someone has something to say about your company or brand name, its important.

To set up your alerts today, go to http://www.google.com/alerts.


What Do You Know about Your Customers?

June 22, 2009

the_more_you_know2Probably not enough.

Do you know when their birthdays are?  Do you know how they heard about you?  Do you know why they chose you over a competitor?  Do you know how their experience with your product or service has been since they purchased?

You can never know enough about your customers, because the more you know, the better suited you are to serve them, to sell to them, and to create for them.

Track everything.  When did they purchase, why did they purchase, when are they likely to purchase again?  Keeping track of this type of information will make it easy for you to see trends and habits that have always been there.  And once you have the information, put it in a place that makes it easy to view, search, and sort.  The key to obtaining the information is the ability to use itJust because its there does not mean that it helps you.

Give the information to your sales team so that they can offer them new products and services, or upgrades of the things that they already have.

Give it to your customer service department so they know exactly what is happening every time they pick up the phone to deal with an issue.

Give it to your marketing department so they know how to better position themselves to attract more of the same type of people.

The best companies know as much as they can about their customers.  They are able to serve their needs before a customer even knows the need exists.  They keep channels of communication open at all times, not just went they want to sell something.  And the customer responds to this.

The more you know, the better position you will find yourself in.  So start learning today.

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If You’re Selling Something, then SELL It

May 15, 2009

call2actionToo many companies are making money online for you not to be one of them.  And forgetting everything but the simple art of selling, there are a few simple things that you have to be doing to convert potential customers into paying customers.

When I get to your website, I usually got there on purpose.  Either I clicked on an ad of yours that looked appealing, or I searched for what you sell in Google, or someone told me that I would like what you’ve got so I cam there directly.  You are already winning the battle.  But there are ways that you can blow it, so don’t assume that just because I am there, the battle is over.

Strike. Hit me with some solid information right away.  Don’t make me look for it, because the attention span of someone searching the internet is short, and getting shorter everyday.  Catch my eye with headlines, have clear website navigation, allow me to search for exactly what I need.

Educate. Give me value in descriptions.  Too many companies put the same boring descriptions of the products that they are selling.  If your competitors description is the same as your description, you are not making my decision process any easier.  If you need to hire an expert copywriter for your site, do it.  Any thing to get a unique, value-driven message across that will entice me to buy.

Leap. Take a risk.  If you are afraid to take risks in business you will lose.  At this point, you have my attention, I have gotten to the product that I am interested in, and all it will take is one small thing to sway me one way or another.  So do something different.  Show me customer ratings, comments, descriptions.  Show me the prices of your competitors compared to your own.  Offer me a special deal as a first time buyer.  Make it easy and make it different, and you will have an easier time convincing me.

Lead. On every single page, put a call to action.  And make it stand out so I know exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing.  After all, your goal all along is to make a sale, so lead me down the sales line throughout every step of the process.  If I get lost, then your sale is lost.

Strike, Educate, Leap, and Lead.  Take a look at the pages on your website.  If you have a page that looks like it was made from a carbon copy of one of your competitors, you are losing.  If you have a page with no call to action, you are losing.  If you are not taking risks and being unique, you are losing.  This is a new era of selling online, and you need to keep up or lead to win.

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