Blogging for Business Benefit #5: Respond to Unhappy Customers

Blogging for Business Unhappy Customers graphicWhen customers want to complain, where do you want them to go? I hope you want them to come straight to your site. Where better can they be heard and find satisfaction?

Your blog can be a beacon to those who need customer service. The sooner unhappy customers get to you, the sooner you can resolve their issue.

Otherwise, they could end up on some review site where they with connect trolls who want to add fuel to the fire. Sometimes, an adverse situation with a simple solution finds the right voice to blow it all out of proportion.

Blog Can Offer Advice

If they find your blog first, unhappy customers may find the answers they need to resolve their issues. Minor dissatisfaction could be turned around in minutes.

Blog Provides a Forum to Be Heard

If they don’t find the answers they need, at least your blog can be that forum where customers express their displeasure, and you get an opportunity to make them happy. Between your contact form and your blog comments, visitors may have several options for getting a message to you.

Negative feedback is a gift when you can contain it on your site and respond in a way that improves customer service.

Blog Reminds Them You’re Human

Often, the reason problems escalate online is because the warmth of human conversation is missing. People who can’t find an immediate solution begin to think of the situation as “us vs. them” where them is a corporate logo.

Your blog can offer the reminder that behind the logo are real people trying, succeeding, sometimes missing the mark, but always striving to make it work for the customer.

You Can’t Hide in 21st Century

If your products or services have issues, people are going to hear about it in a world where bad news travels at the speed of Twitter.

Transparency is key and it’s better to face criticism head on. Your blog can attract unhappy customers and either give them the help they need or give them a way to contact you. With issues safely contained, you can keep complaints from getting out of hand.

A freelance writer can help you start and maintain a blog. Contact Tammi Kibler for help with your writing and marketing strategy.

This is the fifth in a series of ten benefits of blogging for business.

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New Google AdWords Algorithm Launching

adwords quality scores are changingGoogle has tweaked their AdWords Quality Score algorithm to better reward quality landing pages. They have been testing the new algorithm since August in several Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries and feel it is ready for the rest of the world.

The search engine giant has always stressed the importance of providing AdWords landing pages that are relevant for the keywords. The whole point behind the Quality Score has been to reward quality landing pages and punish those that do not deliver what searchers expect. A higher quality score means you can win higher page positions with lower bids.

This new tweak is designed to give even more credit to those pages that Google believes searchers will find most satisfactory.

For advertisers who currently offer highly-relevant landing pages with content related to the keywords, this change should improve their Quality Score, leading to higher page placement and lower cost-per-click.

Google will be releasing this algorithm and crawling all the AdWords landing pages over the next few weeks. They predict you may see some adjustments to your Quality Score while the algorithm gets applied. Once they complete the update later this month, the system should be fully in place and scores will steady again.

Need help writing relevant landing pages? A freelance writer can help you find the words that convert. Contact Tammi Kibler to learn more about copy that sells.

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Blogging for Business Benefit #4: Increase Customer Satisfaction

blogging for business customer satisfaction imageBusinesses that communicate with their customers can increase customer satisfaction by giving customers valuable information.

Your business blog posts can share important details, like maintenance schedules and do-it-yourself tips, that help your customer get the most value from your product or services. This increased value will lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.

Troubleshooting Tips Increase Customer Satisfaction

I don’t know about you, but the minute I need help with an appliance or a bit of software, I start searching online for information. I want to know:

  • Can I fix this?
  • Why did this happen?
  • How can I prevent this in the future?

No matter what THIS is, I know I will probably find answers online. I will find answers, but business owners may hate the answers I find.

The answers I find may not be correct. They may not solve my problem. Worst of all, from a business owner’s standpoint, the answers may disparage the manufacturer or seller of a product or service. (Your dinglewhipper broke because XYZ whips are crap!)

If you provide a product or service that may malfunction someday, you should consider putting information on your blog about potential issues. In some cases, you will inform customers ahead of time so they know what they need to do when a problem arises. For the rest, when problems occur and they search online, you want them to find your solutions so they get the best, professional information to satisfy their needs.

Storage and Maintenance Advice Increases Customer Satisfaction

When you sell products that require proper storage and maintenance, your blog is a great place to remind customers about these best practices. For example, a home improvement store might run a post in autumn advising customers how to store their yard tools and lawn mowers for the winter.

A lot of consumers are certain that manufacturers design products to break easily so these items will need be replaced more often. Your business blog can help assure customers that your products will last for years if treated properly. You can also warn about the dangers of ignoring tune ups or expiration dates.

Off-Label Uses

Doctors will often prescribe new medicines for “off -label” uses. In these cases, the doctors believe the prescriptions have value for symptoms or dosages that have not yet been studied or approved by the FDA.

In a similar manner, some creative customers will develop off-label uses for non-pharmaceutical products they use.

If a customer informs you of a secondary use of your product not mentioned on your label, you can share that information on your blog. The more ways a customer can use your product, the more satisfied that customer is likely to be.

More importantly, if you have concerns about these off-label uses, you can warn your customers and protect them from dangerous uses associated with your products.

Preparation

Many services involve meetings or visits. Maybe you visit the customer’s home (landscapers and painters) or they visit your office (accountants and dentists). These visits are most successful when both parties are fully prepared.

Of course, you will be fully prepared. That’s your job and you are good at your job. Customers, though, don’t always do what they should.

Blog posts can contain friendly reminders that help customers prepare for your visits, leading to a more satisfactory outcome for both you and them.

Transparency Increases Customer Satisfaction

Not every product or service is perfect. Sometimes adding one feature compromises another. Lowering cost often means sacrificing a benefit.

Your business blog can address those imperfections honestly and explain them fully. Again, it is better the customer hear about issues from you rather than someone else who is trying to be sensational.

Explaining clearly the trade-offs and the reasons for them can increase customer satisfaction with a purchase.

Accessories and Add-ons Increase Customer Satisfaction

Finally, many customers would be better satisfied if they purchased the accessories or upgrades that allow a product or service to fully meet their needs. Blog posts can make this clear without a hard sell.

Away from the sales floor, a clear explanation of what other customers accomplish using a fully-upgraded or -accessorized product or service may lead to more of these add-on purchases. When the add-ons enhance the customer’s experience, then customer satisfaction will increase.

Blogging for Business Increases Customer Satisfaction

For all these reasons and more, blogging for business can help increase customer satisfaction leading to better word-of-mouth advertising and more repeat customers.

Contact Tammi Kibler today to learn how a professional freelance writer can help you create a blog that connects with your customers and promotes your business.

This is the fourth in a series of 10 benefits of blogging for business.

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How to Use Permission Marketing to Attract Customers

How to Use Permission Marketing ebook imageI have completed a new ebook that is now available for download on E-junkie. If you have been wondering how to use permission marketing to attract customers, I wrote this ebook for you.

You can grab your copy by filling in the form to the right. (Don’t worry, I will never spam you.)

I wrote this for all the small businesses I see missing out because they overlook online marketing strategies that could help support their offline efforts.

For some reason, they think Internet marketing isn’t for them. Maybe they are afraid it costs too much to get started. I hope I can change their minds about this because online promotion is saving many companies and putting them back in the black.

How to Use Permission Marketing to Attract Customers

If you need low cost marketing strategies with a high return on investment, permission marketing is for you.

If you are looking for ways to leverage word of mouth to grow your customer base, permission marketing is for you.

If you want to ensure your customers return to you over and over again, permission marketing is for you.

With a permission marketing funnel in place, you will give your customers all the information they need to become fans and promoters for you. You can relieve yourself of the responsibility to chase down every new prospect and focus on doing what you do best for your customers.

What Is Permission Marketing?

This is a marketing method defined by Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing, where you give prospects and customers an opportunity to register their interest in receiving information from you. Once you have their permission, they are less likely to tune out your message. You will be able to set up a two-way conversation where you share information about your products and services and the prospects and customers offer feedback via their comments and behaviors.

As they are learning more about you, your company will be learning more about these customers and getting more accurate in targeting offerings to those who will buy them.

permission marketing magnet image

How Does It Attract Customers?

The marketing pieces you assemble to educate prospects will become part of your online library making it easier for searchers to find your company as a solution to their problems. This will send more prospects to your funnel and begin the process of converting them.

Everything you do to entice visitors to give you permission to communicate with them contributes to making your company more appealing to your ideal customers.

Ignore This Marketing at Your Own Peril

Permission marketing is very easy to set up and you may start reaping benefits from your very first email campaign. With so many companies struggling to stay afloat, can you afford to ignore anything that might help?

All it takes a few moments of your time to download this ebook and start learning how to turn the marketing funnel around.

No matter what the size of your business, you can use permission marketing to reach your ideal customers and strengthen your bond with them. How to Use Permission Marketing to Attract Customers will show you the different communication tools you can use to connect with prospects, develop relationships, and attract your perfect customers. Download your copy today.

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Blogging for Business Benefit #3: Tell Your Stories

Blogging for Business graphic 3Telling stories will fix images in your prospects’ minds, and your business blog is a great place to share your stories. Over time, customers who have read your stories will become invested in your success and find it hard to imagine replacing you.

Tell Them How You Started

Every business has a foundation story. If you are a sole proprietor, your foundation story may be your life story. If your business is a partnership, then your story may tell how you and your partner(s) met and decided to build a business.

KFC has a foundation story many Americans will recognize. (Interesting fact: today is Colonel Harland Sanders’ birthday.) Even without photos, that story triggers an image in our minds of the white-haired man we associate with buckets of fried chicken.

Even if you have already told your story on your About page, blog posts can refer to your foundation story from time to time to keep the story fresh in your customer’s minds.

Share Customer Success Stories

If you provide a product or service that helps your customers succeed, their success stories will be valuable testimony to the benefit of doing business with you. Keep track of the stories customers tell you, so you can share them in blog posts.

You don’t need to reveal details if you think that will make your customers uncomfortable, just hit on the points that matter:

  • Who they were. (Real estate agents)
  • What was their problem. (Not enough leads)
  • How you helped. (Launched a blog)
  • Where they are now as a result. (200% improvement in leads over last year)

Build Anticipation

Every day, your business takes action that could become part of a story you share on your blog. Sharing stories about product development will inspire your readers and customers to give you feedback that contributes to successful launches. Some of those who have contributed will become brand advocates sharing your stories with others.

Whatever the stories your company wants to share with customers, your business blog will give you a convenient, search engine optimized platform for publishing them. Fresh content will keep drawing the spiders back to crawl your content, while also promoting your brand to readers.

If you need help creating the content that draws prospects and turns them into customers, contact Tammi Kibler today for freelance writing services and marketing consults.

This is the third in a series of 10 benefits of blogging for business.

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Facebook Fan Pages: Who Needs Them?

image of Facebook fan page logoAt least once a week, I am asked by a small business owner whether or not he needs to be on Facebook.

The answer is complicated.

I do not believe every business gets the same benefit from a Facebook fan page, but with over 750 million users on Facebook, I find it hard to recommend ignoring this channel.

Is Your Target Audience on Facebook?

I attended an event recently where someone brought up the subject of Facebook, and a rather outspoken entrepreneur exclaimed that she is not on Facebook because it is a huge waste of time. Her voice carried, and suddenly, we had one of those awkward moments where everyone paused, and her words kind of hung there for a moment. Then people turned back to their conversations, perhaps a bit chagrined about the time they “waste” on Facebook.

I was reminded that most of us agree television is a huge waste of time, but advertisers have never stopped advertising on television to prove the point that customers should find better ways to spend their precious minutes. If a target audience is watching television five hours a day, advertisers skip the judgment call and run their ads there.

Facebook has become an important marketing channel because so many people are “wasting time” there. They may not come to your website every day, they may ignore your emails, but because they spend hours on Facebook, they are more likely to see your latest update and engage with your brand there. And when they do, many of their friends will see that interaction, and your reach may expand exponentially.

The only concerns you should have:

  • Are your target customers on Facebook?
  • Can you reach them there?
  • Does a Facebook fan page have value to your business?

Can You Reach Your Customers on Facebook?

Facebook has more value for B2C interaction than for B2B because many people have opted to use Facebook for their personal connections and LinkedIn or Twitter for their business networking. You may not be able to reach many of your B2B customers or prospects with a Facebook fan page.

However, even if yours is a B2C concern, the level of engagement you can expect from your audience on Facebook will vary. A condom merchant will likely find fewer fans than an ice cream manufacturer, and both could lose out to a children’s charity.

Does a Facebook Fan Page Add Value to Your Business?

Although Facebook is not as successful for B2B networking as it is for B2C, it may still add value to your business.

If you are blogging on your business website, you can post links to your blog on your Facebook fan page to create inbound links from the second-most-valuable domain on the web. Beyond the value of promoting posts to your fans, those inbound links add to your website SEO.

Also, because of the strength of the Facebook domain, your fan page will likely appear on the first page of a search for your business on Google or another search engine. This can help with managing your online reputation.

Let’s Connect on Facebook

I have a Facebook fan page here, where I share helpful links for small businesses. I would love to connect with you. If you have a fan page you would like to share, please add it in the comments below and I will check it out. I am always looking to connect with others.

Contact Tammi Kibler today to explore whether a Facebook fan page can drive more customers to your business and increase your profitability.

photo courtesy of benstein

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Blogging for Business Benefit #2: Posts Answer Questions

Blogs are not only good for your website SEO (search engine optimization), but they also increase sales when they answer customer questions. Quality content equips your prospects with all the information they need to commit to your product or service.

Have you ever teetered on the verge of committing to a purchase but held back because of questions you needed answered?

Maybe you thought the offer was too good to be true, or the guarantees weren’t clear. You considered asking, but then you were afraid you would get slammed with the hard sell.

You know how it is – sometimes salespeople will not quit once they know you’re interested.

Probably you wished there was a place you could get your questions answered without getting trapped in a hardcore sales pitch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Many websites offer FAQ pages where they answer the questions customers frequently ask. FAQs are important resources that can cut your customer service time when users self-serve themselves the answers they need.

If yours is an ecommerce site, make sure customers can access your FAQ throughout the checkout process. You do not want to lose the shopping cart and the sale when a customer leaves to find an answer to a question.

A blog supports the FAQ page on a website by drawing attention to changes and additions. Many websites do not update their FAQ pages on a regular basis. In those cases, blogs are invaluable for pointing out information formerly unavailable.

Questions Your Customer Never Asks – But Needs to Know

How do you know when your customers have questions they aren’t asking?

Whenever they continually do what you wish they would not.

When this happens, whatever it is, most likely the customer does not understand the WHY behind a particular action. You can keep telling her HOW to do something over and over, but if she does not understand WHY, she will continue to do it wrong. Whatever IT is, the problem often is not that she does not get the how, but that she is missing the why. (And the WII-FM)

Blog posts let you tell stories. You can create narratives that demonstrate why it is important to do things a certain way. These stories educate your readers and customers while adding to the SEO of your site. Someday, these posts will draw new readers who will also become customers.

Because you are answering questions the customer never asks aloud and never seeks to answer, these questions would be buried on the FAQ page (though you can certainly add them there too). Blog posts that address these unspoken questions educate your readers and improve customer service. The better-educated customer is easier to satisfy, and he is more likely to choose to buy from you again.

Contact Tammi Kibler today to learn more about the questions your blog posts can answer and how a freelance writer can help you turn questions into conversions.

This is the second in a series of 10 benefits of blogging for business.

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5 Lies PLR Content Writers Want You to Believe

image of two cheetahsPrivate label rights (PLR) content writers want you to believe that you can use their content to shortcut the writing process. Even Problogger.net seems to believe there is a place for PLR on blogs.

(Note 8/29/11: Apparently they have removed the Problogger post about PLR.)

What Is PLR?

Private label rights content has been offered by its writer to be copied by other writers or bloggers. Blog posts, ebooks, and email sequences are among the most popular PLR offerings.

The rights offered vary depending on the author. Some give away unlimited copies for free as a bonus, some sell a finite number of licenses to restrict how many times the work gets reused, and others resell the work as often as they can. Usually, the purchaser is free to use the PLR content any way he sees fit and to claim authorship, though the original author may put limits on the buyer’s right to resell the rights to the work.

If you are:

  • Struggling to add fresh content to your blog,
  • Looking for a quick ebook to offer as a freebie,
  • Hoping to save some money on content,

PLR may appear to be a viable, cost-effective solution to your problem. However, you should understand that many of the claims these content writers make are not true.

5 PLR Content Lies

Lie #1: PLR Is Quality Content

I find this claim the most spurious because quality writers do not associate themselves with PLR.

The writing sequence is very simple.

  • You write quality content.
  • You promote it.
  • You make money.

You may change it up by promoting yourself first, writing to order for a client, and then making money, but still the idea is the same.

To suggest that writers who are capable of doing all of this would sell multiple rights to copy and claim their words or set limits to the number of times they will sell their ebooks or other content makes no sense. Those writers who can, make a profit when they do. Those writers who can’t, sell PLR.

Lie #2: PLR Saves Time

image of elephantEvery time I see an offer, it comes with the reminder that you will have to rewrite the content to make it your own. If you have ever tried to spin one of your own articles, you understand how difficult it can be to find new ways to say what someone has already said – kind of like trying to stop thinking about an elephant now that I have suggested you should.

Maybe PLR can help you save some time on the inspiration part. Someone else has thought up an angle of approach and an outline, so you just have to follow through and flesh it out your way. Honestly, is it worth what they charge to produce something with the exact same angle and outline that others are producing?

Lie #3: PLR Provides Research

If you cannot trust the quality, then you need to double check any facts provided in a PLR package.

Besides, the underlying facts often make PLR-based content obvious. I may not remember the exact words someone used to make a point, but I will remember the data and stories that supported the point when I run into them again in someone else’s words.

If you want to hide your source when using someone else’s content, you will have to research your own supporting data, examples, and case studies.

Lie #4: Duplicate Content Will Not Hurt You

But it will.

The people who read you will spot it eventually and they will lose respect for you.

Let’s say you do patch together a successful ebook using PLR. Somebody in your niche is bound to come across another patchy version with the same underlying structure and “research.” Your credibility will be shot with that reader, and possibly with many others if the experience is shared publicly.

Lie #5: Setting PLR Limits Will Control the Saturation Level

I wonder what sort of research supports the idea that selling only 20 or 30 or 150 licenses prevents overuse of the content. I suspect there is no research.

Even if we knew of a saturation point to avoid, the copying and reselling cannot be controlled the way these websites suggest. The authors and buyers are acting on the honor system, and you have no recourse if this honor is not upheld.

Insist on Quality

Reputations last a long time online. Getting caught selling a cheap knockoff as an original can haunt your business for years. Do not fall for the lies PLR content writers want you to believe. These tactics may work for shady internet marketers who seek a quick profit, but reputable businesses should steer clear of anything with a whiff of shoddy workmanship or shortcuts.

Contact Tammi Kibler today to learn how a freelance writer can provide your business with quality, original content that attracts visitors and inspires them to become customers.

Cheetah photo courtesy of Brimark. Elephant photo courtesy of gudi&cris.

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Blogging for Business Benefit #1: Blog content improves SEO

This is the first in a series of posts about the benefits of blogging for business.

Image of number one and S E OWhen considering the value of¬† blogging for business, the most important benefit is that a blog does wonders for your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).

While providing useful content on a regular basis, your business blog will attract readers who help make your content look useful to the search engines. In addition, this content will naturally contain keywords related to customer searches, and each post will become another chance someone might find your site when they search online for topics related to your business.

Blogs and SEO

SEO refers to all the things a webmaster should do to make a website appealing to the search engine bots. These bots crawl the Internet looking at websites and making judgment calls on the value of those sites. Because they cannot actually comprehend the content they “read,” these bots look for keywords and tags that tell them what kind of information is provided on a web page.

Web Bot Friendly

Blogs have a structure that makes it clear to the bots where the titles and descriptions are on the page without requiring the person entering the content to understand complicated coding. Many small businesses use a blogging platform like WordPress because it makes SEO easy to accomplish without a lot of training.

User Friendly

Once a site has a blogging platform installed, administrative employees can add new content as often as necessary using a visual editor similar to Word or OpenOffice. These user friendly platforms allow a business to quickly create and publish content that then gets indexed by the web bots.

Of course, if the content on the blog is related to the business, then keywords will be used naturally in the course of writing the blog posts. The more content related to and containing the keywords, the more authority the search engines will believe the site has in those keywords.

Reader Friendly

The search engines also monitor the behavior of visitors to your site to get a better understanding of the value to actual human beings. Stuffing pages with keywords will not please human readers and the search engines have developed elaborate algorithms to fight against keyword spam.

Fortunately, a blog will not have that problem when the writers seek to inform and engage readers and potential customers. By providing a good mix of useful information and the right keywords to attract searchers, your blog will improve your website’s SEO.

Adding Fresh Content

In order to maximize the benefit of a blog for your SEO strategy, you will want to add blog posts on a regular basis. The web bots are always looking for fresh content, and each new post will pull them back to your site.

If you find you cannot keep up with your blogging schedule, consider hiring a freelance writer who can help you meet your goals. Remember, the more content you add, the more chances you have to rank high in the search engines and the more targeted prospects you will draw to your website.

Contact Tammi Kibler today to learn how a blog for your business will help you improve your website SEO.

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Should You Advertise with Groupon?

If you advertise with Groupon, are the customers worth the cost?I had a prospect ask me this week whether Groupon would be a good fit for his business in Boston. I thought my answer might be helpful for you if this has been on your mind as well.

Why Advertise with Groupon?

Groupon is the original and largest of the online daily deal promoters. They have an enormous customer base they can leverage to put your deal in front of thousands of local customers.

The program works like this:

Groupon sends out a daily deal in an email to their followers in an “expanded local” area. These deals frequently feature 50% off or better. For example, a deal might offer a $100 spa treatment for $45. Customers pay upfront for the deal and then they have a period of time to redeem their coupons before the expiration date.

This model tempts many small businesses.

  • They can gain exposure with all the list members.
  • They may attract new customers.
  • They get this advertising without paying upfront, out of pocket.

Enough small businesses have been happy when they advertise with Groupon that the daily deal maker has been able to negotiate to keep 50-100% of the revenue generated. These businesses claim that the exposure has led to enough additional spending and repeat customers to offset the expense of giving away products and services for less than 25% of their retail value.

Other businesses complain that they misunderstood the costs associated with the deals and do not feel the model serves small businesses at all. They are unhappy when:

  • Groupon customers visit for the deal only.
  • Tips do not fit the full value of products or services received.
  • High volume threatens relationships with current customers.
  • People abuse the system by printing extra coupons.

 Should You Advertise With Groupon?

Groupon might be a good option under the following circumstances:

  • You offer a gateway product or service at a discount with a reasonable expectation of converting to upgraded, ongoing customer relationships.
  • You have excess capacity you could fill without increasing your overhead.
  • You can control your offering via appointments to keep redeemers from overwhelming your capacity.

Before you commit to a Groupon deal, you should understand that Groupon is a form of paid advertising. Although you do not pay upfront, there are significant costs associated with participating in a daily deal coupon model.

You can best evaluate the possible benefit to your business by considering the cost of each additional customer against any revenue you will generate, including extra sales above the value of the coupon and repeat visits by new customers. If that sounds difficult to gauge in advance, you are correct. Jay Goltz wrote about the equation for the NY Times, and he pointed out that a small difference in one of the variables can be magnified into huge gains or losses for your promotion.

Of course, traditional advertising benefits have always been very difficult to measure. Just because online tools allow us to better evaluate the success of Groupon and other daily deals, does not mean the promotions are necessarily better or worse than traditional broadcast promotions we could not measure as efficiently.

At the end of the day (or the deal), we are often left with a best guess at how many new customers were gained and kept from a promotion, especially for businesses like restaurants that do not have memberships or loyalty programs.

So, what did I tell my prospect?

Should his small business in Boston advertise with Groupon?

No, I did not feel the daily deal model would suit his business for two primary reasons:

1. His business has targeted a very specific group of ideal B2B customers. Although Groupon recently introduced targeted marketing in Boston, they do not at this time ask questions that would allow them to deliver deals specific to, for example, ophthalmologists who perform 25+ LASIK surgeries per week.

2. He has expressed a desire to attract customers who value the security his company offers over the risk of lower cost alternatives. Although I do not agree that every daily deal customer is a bottom feeder, I think a deep discount promotion would be inconsistent with the positioning statement he hopes to make.

What about you? I would love to read about your experience with daily deals whether you have participated as a business owner or a customer.

Do you plan to advertise with Groupon?

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