Get your Group on
After all the swirling controversy of the last couple weeks, we decided to post something warm and fuzzy. We have noticed that some club owners have been talking warmly about Groupon lately. About how it’s helping to fill up their clubs, how it’s helping to sell drinks, how it’s helping to get the word out about their presence. So far, we haven’t heard anyone talk about a downside.
Groupon, in case it hasn’t been covered by the Sub-Igneous Times, is a super-duper free online service that gets folks to sign up, then sends them a daily Groupon coupon notice. Subscribers then have the option of ignoring it or purchasing it. Sometimes it will be a $32 oil change for $14, or a $45 one-hour foot massage for $12. Or sometimes it will be half-off admission for two people to a comedy club. Those who take advantage print out their authorization, then take it with them (with I.D.) to redeem their coupon at the designated venue, massage parlor, garden center.
Occasionally (it’s up to the business offering the discount), the Groupon offer will have a tipping point built in– so that the Groupon will only be valid if a certain benchmark is reached, i.e, a certain number of people sign up for the offer. Ingenious, really, as it depends on social forces to muster a critical mass. In case you’re wondering, Groupon is successful. At least some folks think it is or might be. (There was talk late last year of Groupon being purchased for $6 billion!)
The subscribers sign up for a local region– When we lived in South Jersey, for instance, we signed up for the Philly-area Groupon. We now receive notifications of Vegas-area Groupon offers.
We are impressed that some club owners are taking advantage of this social media/coupon hybrid. So often, they opt for the Business-Card-In-A-Fishbowl method of papering the house. Groupon is right in their wheelhouse since it’s easy, it takes hardly any energy and it doesn’t cost anything. (If you think that we’re implying that club owners are often dull, lazy and cheap, well, that would be your interpretation!) And technically, it’s not “papering the house,” since the merchant actually gets some cash for each admission.
Papering the house has gotten a bad rep over the years. But, we spoke to one club manager/owner a few years back who said, “There’s a wrong way and a right way to paper the house.” We honestly believed him. And we worked in one his clubs for a week and the shows (and the crowds) were spectacular, so if that house was papered, we say, “Spread your house-papering gospel!” So many times we’ve seen club managers take tried and true methods and apply them in ham-handed or half-hearted ways. And we’ve seen too many clubs employ “new” methods without really understanding those methods. They proudly implement sparkly, new marketing techniques– while failing to grasp exactly what it is they’re doing– expecting the technology to do all the work. They are disappointed when the result is less than optimum. Of course, they blame the technology.
One thing that separates this from outright giveways, like we mentioned early, is that the customer actually has to part with some dough. So he’s invested in the performance and he’s not just a slug who dropped his biz card in a bowl and got a phone call on a Thursday afternoon. He isn’t just some chump who got a “special offer” email that entitles him to free admission next Wednesday. He and/or his fellow Grouponers got that txt message or that email, considered the deal, crunched the numbers and bought the ticket. It’s a tremendous way to reach people who might not have been aware of the venue or might not have considered being a part of a comedy audience otherwise.
It’s just one more way the internet is changing standup comedy. If there’s a hard and fast, quantifiable downside, we’d like to hear about it.
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