Babbling B’s Blog

This post was written for my customer segmentation class at Northwestern. I welcome your comments below, and hope to integrate your feedback into our class discussion!

Since its launch in 2008, Groupon has been celebrated, imitated, and criticized. Daily deals were already popular (think Woot.com daily deals and the popularity with technogeeks). However, Groupon created a niche and set the stage for local daily deals that could appeal to the city masses. It was so different that Groupon’s daily deal offering has been labeled a disruptive business model. Many lookalike sites like LivingSocialGoogle Offers, and BuyWithMe have emerged creating a competitive market. Even so, Groupon and LivingSocial command about 90% of the daily deal market share.

To stay ahead of the competition, Groupon has evolved from simply offering one local daily deal to offering multiple deals in cities big and small. Now, it’s going to take more than simple, city-based segmentation to engage the Groupon customer base. Below you’ll find my top 3 ways Groupon can capitalize on customer segmentation to drive business.

1. Drive customers to personalize their deals. Did you know you could fill out your profile on Groupon so you can personalize the deals that are sent to you? No? Neither did I. Turns out Groupon began personalizing deals in 2010. Surprisingly, they don’t heavily push their existing or new customers to complete their profile in its entirety. If Groupon wants to build database information for segmentation, they’re going to need to drive their customers to provide this information. They need to guide registrants to fully fill out their profile – and possibly offer further segmentation opportunities through progressive profiling.

2. Customers love to give feedback, so ask for it. When you love a deal, you buy it. But what about when the customer doesn’t like the deal? Couldn’t Groupon collect information in order to understand why an individual doesn’t want a deal? A real-time feedback mechanism could help Groupon source new offerings AND begin to personalize an individual’s experience. By offering ways for individuals to actively ‘skip’ or ‘vote down’ a deal and provide feedback, Groupon could begin omitting irrelevant offers based on past feedback.

3. Don’t just ask customers what they want. Sometimes a customer doesn’t know what they want. Groupon could mine the purchasing data to start to understand the individual’s preferences, offering similar categories, offers, and discount levels. They could even incorporate email open and click rates to understand what offers are resonating with that particular customer.

Groupon has been wildly successful since its launch, but in order to continue to lead this competitive local daily deals market, they will need to become data-driven and drive the effectiveness of their offers. After all, the founding principal was all about group activity; doesn’t it make sense that Groupon’s success could come through the effective grouping of their customers?

The Happiness ProjectI love to read. I typically read fiction as a sort of ‘mental getaway,’ whereas I usually associate nonfiction books with grad school. Once I’ve started a good book, I tend to get a little obsessed: I’ll spend any spare minute reading a page or chapter, but I love to finish a good book in one sitting. Don’t even get me started on a good book series – you won’t see me for weeks!

My latest book obsession is a little different: it’s called The Happiness Project. I borrowed the nonfiction title from a friend on a whim. At first I was a little skeptical about reading a book ‘without a story’; but as I progressed through the book, I couldn’t put it down.

Now, if you know me, you may be groaning. “Does she really need to be any happier?” Yes, I’m a positive and upbeat person by nature and yes, I do need to be happier. And so do you.

The premise of the book: We’re in danger of wasting our lives. The author has this epiphany on a New York bus. Was she focusing on the things that really matter, or was she just letting time pass her by? And why are you always left thinking of the ‘good old days’ – why can’t we realize that today is a ‘good day’?

The book is a great compilation of happiness wisdom of the ages, some you may already know, some you may not realize you already know, and some that you really should know!

Ultimately, she comes up with her Four Splendid truths. They are:
1) If I want to be happier, I need to look at my life and think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right in an atmosphere of growth.
2) One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.
3) The days are long but the years are short.
4) If I think I’m happier, I am happier.

You’ll find you have your own truths, and your own commandments to live by. Here are a few of mine:

  • Say thank you more than you should
  • Pay it forward
  • Say hello to passers-by
  • Just breathe
  • Smile
  • And, taking a tip from the author: Be Brandi.

If you don’t have time to read the book, check out the Happiness Project Blog. There’s plenty of short stories you can draw happiness from there!

What are your commandments you live by?

P.S. Yes, I know it has been 144 days since my last blog post. Possible New Year’s resolution that will make me happier? :)

I know I’ve been quiet, but I’ve been BUSY! I wanted to quickly share a presentation I’m working on for an ‘inform-al’ school presentation. I really love Forrester’s Social Infographics, Technographics and the book Groundswell, so I’ll be sharing some of the ways consumers use social media and the demographic info. I think the research is really useful for figuring out how to engage with your target market. I hope you find it useful too!

Oh, and I finally used Prezi for this presentation. It was really easy, and I’m hoping it makes the presentation a little more engaging. On the downside, it doesn’t seem to embed on a wordpress.com blog, but it’s still pretty cool!

Social Media Infographics on Prezi

Where have I BEEN!?! I know, I’ve been neglecting my social media obsession and my blog. So, I decided to share my engagement pictures – that of course were posted on my photographer’s fantabulous blog.

You may recall from my previous post that I’ve been using social media as much as possible in planning my Florida destination wedding. Case in point – Amanda Suanne Photography. I had come across her name in my research, and happened to know someone who was standing up in a wedding in Florida. She mentioned that her friend’s engagement pictures were awesome – and the rest is history.

Here are a few of our favorites (more here). Hope you like them as much as we do! And thanks for allowing me to share my show-and-tell. :)

Brandi and Mike EngagementBrandi and Mike Shutters
Brandi and Mike laughing

Image from andrewcaswell's flickr photostream

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard many references to social media marketing – from praise to criticism. Listening to the conversation, I’ve come to a final conclusion: social media is NOT about the tools. You don’t get started by setting up a company Twitter account or your Facebook Fanpage.

How do you start? Monitoring.

Almost every conversation I have about social media immediately turns to a specific tool. The crutch for understanding the concept is focusing on the tools and how they work rather than the real question: Does social media make sense for my business?

The lightbulb went off for me. Whether you love social media or question the concept, you owe it to yourself and your business to start monitoring. That will guide strategy and, ultimately, the tactics and tools.

Monitoring doesn’t tie you to social media. In fact, no one even has to know you’re doing it. You don’t even have to do it in a formal manner. But you SHOULD have an idea of what’s being said about your brands in the social media. What’s being said about your brands? Where? How are your consumers interacting and using social media? Is anyone even talking about you? You should know how social media impacts your business.

Now, off my soapbox, and here are a few ideas to get started:

Begin by developing an initial list of keywords you want to begin monitoring. It could include your company name or brands, or maybe product categories, industry terms or thought leaders. You may also want to start monitoring your competition. As you monitor, you’ll start to see how customers talk about you and additional keywords will begin to make sense. Don’t forget common misspellings or slang terms!

Then, use some of the various free tools to begin monitoring. Many allow you to save the searches, so monitoring is as simple as opening the program and reviewing the new results every day (those are my favorite!). Here are a few sites or tools you can use:

There are tons – and if you already monitor, what are you favorites?

Evangelizing social media can be tough, especially when you’re explaining it to people who don’t live in the social world. As I’ve shared before, we’ve been doing a ‘social media road show’ around my company and corporation to provide a high level overview of social media and the value it can bring to the business.

I wanted to share the basic outline of my presentation. Feel free to use elements, and I would suggest providing specific examples of how the slides apply to your company. (P.S. this is my first presentation on SlideShare – it was so easy to use!)

I look forward to hearing your feedback!

I also need to thank and give credit to some people and organizations that I borrowed some content ideas from:
Hubspot, Marta Kagan, and MarketingSherpa.

This post appeared on VitaminIMC – Medill IMC’s student-run blog.

No marketing communications professional looks forward to the day they must navigate a company crisis. Toyota’s recent floor mat and sticky pedal safety recalls are the most recent examples of balancing damage control with open communications. The safety recalls and Toyota’s subsequent responses open the potential for major damage to their strong brand built on safe, reliable, high-quality vehicles.

Meeting the challenge head-on, Toyota launched a comprehensive PR strategy to address the situation openly and honestly. Their website, www.toyota.com/recall, includes updates on what’s being done to address the problems and has videos with more information for consumers—such as what to do if they experience trouble braking.

Adding to the open dialogue, Jim Lentz, President & CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., apologizes to customers in a video on the site, closing by saying: “Once again, I apologize for the situation and I hope you’ll give us the chance to earn back your trust.”

The newly released television commercial echoes his sincere words, telling a story of commitment and painting a picture that highlights 172,000 Toyota employees’ dedication.

But will this campaign be enough to calm consumers after months of bad news? It took nearly 10 days for Toyota to launch this response strategy, and consumer perception has dropped to a new low. If they hope to uphold their brand values, Toyota must avoid additional crises and continue to create open and honest dialogue to fuel positive brand momentum.

What do you think? Can Toyota restore the faith in their company?

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