Pub Rants

Advertising That Works?

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Status: It’s the final sprint into the holidays. Goal? To finish everything. All client reads. All incoming submissions. All Royalty Statements. All end of year deals. And yes, we’ve got a lot going on in that realm.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by Mariah Carey

Over a year ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Groupon for Denver, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I mean, how can you beat deals like a 90-minute massage for $29.00? That’s a steal no matter how you cut it. So I’ve been aware of this company for a while and have happily Grouponed many a great deal. Tonight, I was reading a Newsweek article on how this mode of advertising is really working. After all, it introduces subscribers to local companies that they might not have discovered otherwise and more importantly, if a subscriber buys the deal for the day, that person is committed to visiting that company or using that service in the very near future.


But why do I bring this up in relation to publishing? Well, I was down in Santa Fe for the holidays and what pops up on my iPhone? The daily Groupon deal. This time, much to my surprise, it was a deal from Simon & Schuster. $40.00 worth of books for $20.00 from the S&S website.

Game on!

I would love to know how this Groupon worked for them. I’m also assuming that this Groupon hit several major cities—not just Denver. Someone is paying attention over there at S&S. Nicely done (although I imagine some independent booksellers might not be as enthusiastic to hear this).

My response? You can Groupon too! For Tattered Cover, that’s a groupon I would buy in a heartbeat and then send the link to all my Denver friends.

16 Responses

  1. Mike Mullin said:

    The problem with your response is that Simon & Schuster gave away none of its customary margin with this coupon. A retailer matching that deal would be selling at a loss, particularly after the coupon fees are added in. Manufacturers who undermine their distribution chains ultimately will lose them. Which is better for S&S in the long term: a vibrant network of bookstores or Groupon?

  2. Brooke said:

    We’ve had a couple independent bookstores use Groupon here in Minneapolis. Can’t say what the profit/success of the venture was for the businesses, but they certainly thought it was a good idea, and I’m looking forward to more.

  3. Evangeline Holland said:

    I only learned about Groupon because of the possible Google deal. I have, however, used LivingSocial, which is basically the same sort of service, and I was able to score last-minute tickets to a basketball game for $10 apiece.

  4. Loralie Hall said:

    It’s a great idea – similar to something like the amazon gold box. The product itself may be sold at a loss for the publisher, but statistically they have a higher chance of making other sales while you’re there. The mindset of the consumer is that they’re saving money, so they can spend a little more.

    It’s smart when it’s done right, imho ^_^ (And it works. I’m a marketing analyst so I’ve seen the figures).

  5. Sandy Williams said:

    Groupon is awesome! We didn’t get the S&S deal here in Dallas (which is kind of surprising b/c Dallas is usually an expiremental market), but it is nice to know publishers are paying attention and trying new thigns.

  6. Amy said:

    I have a friend who owns a tea shop in south Denver who tried Groupon. He said that it drove a lot of business to them, but only time would tell if it really helped grow their business. The way Groupon makes its money is to take 50% of the face value of the Groupon (what we pay) as their cut. For an Indy like TC, I think it would hurt their margin too much. They’re well established, so I don’t think it would help them in the long run. Their creative programming and community focus are some of the many reasons they have my loyalty. Yes, I love a deal as much as the next person, but I want to see them continue to be profitable through this slow economic (and seismically shifting publishing) season. For the big houses–an interesting approach.

  7. Tasmanian Devil said:

    Hear Hear Mike Mullin! It’s a race to the bottom for everybody by participating in this. How can this stimulate America’s economy and give fair remuneration to businesses and employees (or authors etc) in the long run?

  8. Ed Bast said:

    The S&S groupon is great in theory, but since it only applies to certain titles at full jacket price, even with the discount you’re still paying more than you would at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. So it’s a great deal if you’re interested in paying more for books.

  9. Buffy Andrews said:

    We just started this at my media company. It’s called The Daily Buzz. So far, it’s going well. It’s just another way to diversify our portfolio and continue to create new revenue streams. We’re also developing mobile apps etc. that allow us to connect with our readers across multiple platforms. One of my jobs as social media coordinator is to expand our digital footprint and promote what we are doing across all platforms, from our core print products to our glossy magazines to our websites, etc. I absolutely think that businesses much work to engage people using these tools. For example, on Foursquare I currently have nearly 20 mayorships and I love that at some places I get free stuff because I’m the mayor. At one place, I get free coffee 24/7. This business gets it. It knows I will stop in for my coffee and maybe buy a muffin or whatever. And it’s creating competition for the mayorship. Anyway, the publishing industry must also think outside of the box and learn to use social media to our advantage. Sorry for rambling. You can probably tell I’m super excited about all of this. It’s an exciting time to be a journalist.

  10. alyssalinnpalmer said:

    I’ve used Groupon only a couple times, but so far so good. My favourite offer was $12 of used books for $6 at a nearby bookstore. I wish they’d have ones like that more often.

  11. Liesl said:

    I think the point of Groupon is for businesses to get their name out and gain loyal customers, but the idea that people will become loyal to a particular publisher seems improbable. The only benefit I can see is if the customer become a fan of a particular writer the publisher continues to publish. Otherwise it’s just a good deal that might not do them a lot of good in the future.

  12. Sarah Cypher said:

    I’d love to know if this concept could work for directly authors.

    For instance, if Groupon could publicize book specials along a couple of different dimensions–say, three books by local Denver authors for $25; or three new YA paranormal romance books for $25. It would be a great way to connect readers with new authors in their geographical area, or in a genre they love.