Green Industry Articles

Unconventional Marketing with Daily Deal Sites

Retailers, spas, and restaurants have figured out how to tap daily deal sites, such as Groupon, to snag new customers.

The daily deal sites work with businesses and develop deep discounts on products and services.

Deals, typically good for 24 hours, are e-mailed to the site's subscribers. They include a description of the deal and the business and a link to the business website.

The concept relies on collective buying power. If a certain number of people commit to buy, then the deal--whether it's 50 percent off dental services or deep discounts at boutiques and restaurants-- is on. The daily deal sites get a percentage of the price of each deal.

For many businesses, it's an ideal way to woo new customers and bring more traffic through the doors.

With a little creativity and caution, real estate businesses can benefit too.

Chicago-based Dream Town Realty did a Groupon deal earlier this year and grabbed lots of attention because it was the first real estate company to do such a deal. There was, of course some fine print, but the offer basics are: $25 bought first-time clients $1,000 off the closing
costs on a house priced at $150,000 or more.

If you don't want to follow the Dream Town model, devise your own creative deals to promote your green knowledge and raise your business profile.

Here are five ideas:

Closing gift: Team up with an array of like-minded green service providers and build a suite of discount services as a closing gift. Market this “Home Closing Bonus Package” as an incentive to clear buyers' minds about those pesky move-in projects. Partner, for instance, with a local
landscape designer, a plumber, and a maid service. You get the real estate transaction. The plumber fixes leaks or installs low-flow faucets. The landscaper develops a garden design. And the maid does a move-in cleaning with green products.

Green tours: Partner with a local bike or Segway provider and do a “car-free tour” of local green homes. Get an organic cafe on board and ask it to offer healthy snacks along the route. Wrap up the event with an organic picnic or with a stop at the eco-friendly cafe or farmers
market.

First-time moms: First-time moms typically are tremendously concerned about creating a safe, healthy environment for their newborns. Why not offer an in-house consultation on creating an eco-safe nursery? You can cover the overall health benefits of a green home and then zero in on some child-specific topics, such as organic bedding and the importance of choosing paint, carpet, and furnishings that don't off gas. You can opt for a city-specific daily deal site or mom-centric ones, like http://deals.mamapedia.com or www.plumdistrict.com.

Unbundle your services: Why not sell bits and pieces of your green knowledge? You could offer one-hour visits to people's houses and show homeowners how to fix the biggest energy wasters. Bring along a goodie basket with CFLs, power strips, weather-stripping, and so forth, to install. Or team up with an auditor who can perform a blower door test as part of the deal.

Throw a party: Take a page from luxury home specialists who toss lavish cocktail parties at homes they're marketing. Yours could feature green cocktails and appetizers and you could invite other green businesses to offer party favors and giveaways. Or ask the local car dealer to
bring a hybrid and give attendees spins in the car. To further entice guests, why not offer to donate your take from the event (what you charged participants who bought the deal) to a local green charity? You may not make a dime from such a venture, but it will get your name out as a
green real estate practitioner and provide exposure for your listing.

Caveats

1. If you decide to do a deal, be sure to promote it to clients and prospects through your social media channels.

2. Since the daily deal sites provide links to your website, be certain your information and bio are up to date and that the information reflects your expertise and NAR's Green Designation.

3. Get up to speed on some of the pitfalls of daily deal sites.

--  Many businesses, for instance, find themselves overwhelmed by an onslaught of new customers, so be ready to handle a higher call and e-mail volume.
-- Know that some deal buyers are in the game for one-time discounts or freebies and have no intention of becoming regular clients. Beware that not every business rakes in big bucks and don't expect the venture to eventually fund a European vacation or your kid's college education.
-- If you're looking to make a couple bucks or cover your costs, be sure that you and anyone you partner with crunch the numbers in advance.

4. Read the fine print and understand exactly what you're agreeing to with the daily deal company. Don't forget to factor in the cut they take.

5. Check with your attorney and insurer to be certain you're not taking on liability for which you're not covered. Also be sure that any partners, such as bike and Segway companies you work with have the proper insurance in place.

6. Be sure to check into whether your proposed deal raises any issues under your state license law, particularly if it involves sharing a portion of a commission you may earn with an unlicensed third party.

Additional Resources:

Here's a handful of daily deal sites. A Google search will yield hundreds.

a. Daily Deal Media -- Stay up on trends in the world of daily deals. The site's
directory helps you find deal sites.

b. Green Box Top -- The site bills itself as one that offers deals on green, ecofriendly,
sustainable, and wellness-focused businesses. It also donates a
percentage of its sales to not-for-profits that are aligned with its mission.

c. Groupon -- This is the most known of all the deal sites and is the one credited
with launching the daily deal movement. The Chicago-based company operates in
the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, and South America.

d. Living Social -- The site features businesses in cities across the United States and
in Canada. Deals have included whale-watching trips in San Francisco and ecofriendly
carpet cleaning in Seattle.

Source: Green REsource Council Newsletter, May 2011