It takes money to make money.
So when I started my 360 Photo Booth business, I was trying to come up with different ways to market it. I knew that I would set up a Google My Business profile as well as position us on Instagram & Facebook to appeal to millennials – our target audience. I was not interested in investing my own money into the business so I needed to come up with a way to get “free” advertising.
I know what you’re thinking “where can you get free advertising”. When I say “FREE”, I mean not having to pay upfront costs. If you have an Etsy shop like I do, you are charged AFTER a customer makes a purchase. The platform takes their fees for “promoting your product” before they release the profit. And now, I found out that Groupon offers something similar.
Let me preface this with the fact that I am an avid Groupon customer. I use the app at least once a week looking for deals in Miami and Atlanta since I pretty much live in both cities. And then one day while I was scrolling, I saw my friend’s business ad on there. He is a personal trainer based in South Florida and he was offering his services at a discounted rate.
I immediately started searching for 360 Photo Booth services on Groupon in the South Florida and Atlanta areas. I couldn’t find any and the lightbulb went off — this is a good market.
I created a Groupon Merchant (business account), started watching YouTube videos on people’s experience using Groupon Merchant, and created my first campaign. In maybe a day or two after I created the campaign (it has to get approved by Groupon before going live), I received an email telling me that the campaign was rejected. I shrugged and assumed that’s the reason why there were no 360 photo booths on the platform — they were all getting rejected.
And then maybe a month later, I received a call from someone that worked for Groupon saying they saw I attempted to make a campaign and wanted to know if I was still interested in partnering with them. He told me how Groupon is always looking for new and innovative things to offer and they liked my 360 Photo Booth business. He told me that there’s a certain way to manually work the system and his specific job at Groupon is to find those unique businesses, revamp their campaigns, and get them approved.
After the call, we went back and forth via email trying to set up the perfect campaign. Groupon has 20+ million active users on its platform and they provide businesses all the marketing they need. However, it comes at a cost. You have to list your product at an appealing sale price and then when you make a sale, Groupon wants 50% of that sale.
For example, let’s say your business offers jet skis. Your regular rate to rent out a jet ski for 30 minutes is $100. You list this service on Groupon at a discounted rate of $60 (40% OFF). This discounted rate is the price a customer will pay at checkout. After the purchase, Groupon will take $30 and give you $30.
Now, before you fight me, let’s continue to look at that example. Depending on your business overhead (costs of operation), that $30 profit may be a loss. If gas for the jet ski is $10, you have to subtract that from the revenue so your true profit is $20. Other overhead costs may be a dock rental fee, lifeguard salary, and more which can have you seeing more negative than positive. In the context of my current business model, it’s a win because we just want to build exposure and profit enough to pay the employees that have to work these events. We do not use Groupon to pay for our overhead.
We started our campaign in early December and have consistently sold at least 2 vouchers per month from January to March 2022. The cool thing about this is, we are able to make more money by upselling additional items since our campaign is bare bones. On our account, we only offer standard 360 Photo Booth services for 3 hours, 5 hours, and 8 hours. All of our customers so far have purchased the 3-hour voucher and when we schedule the event, they almost always want an additional hour (more $$), themed props (more $$), and custom overlay/geofilter (more $$).
For those that do not know what upselling is, it’s when you offer additional services and/or products during a sale. You probably have experienced this while being a customer at your local fast-food restaurant. You order a taco and nachos and the cashier asks “would you like to add a drink with that”. That is upselling. So there are products and services included in our regular rates that we do not offer Groupon customers. We can’t just let you off that easily.
Another benefit of using Groupon to market my 360 Photo Booth business is being able to easily get reviews that you can then use on your company site or social media and it helps your business establish credibility. Just because something is listed on Groupon, doesn’t mean you should give your money to it. Remember, I am an avid Groupon customer so I look at reviews and I leave them. Shoot – I look at and leave Google Reviews. The reviews show that not only is your business legit but it provides good or bad services and products. I will admit, due to poor planning and lack of staffing on our part, we had to cancel our attendance at an event last minute which caused us to get 1 poor review but that won’t stop our show.
All in all, we have seen success in Groupon. The campaign reach and conversion rate has been pretty high for the first 90 days (the partnership is 4 months long with an option to renew) and I just know it will continue to grow. I will say, we do not promote our Groupon listing on our social media or even word of mouth because we don’t want everyone booking through the platform. Like seriously, we have money to make. So we have a limited number of vouchers that can be purchased on Groupon and still promote our regular rates via other online platforms.
I hope this was able to give you insight on potentially using Groupon to build brand awareness and increase traffic to your business. I don’t have all the answers but I thoroughly enjoy sharing my entrepreneurship journey so you can see what it’s like in real-time.
For those of you interested in starting a 360 Photo Booth business or already started but not getting booked, let’s hop on a call to discuss what’s going on. As always, I love helping people level up in their entrepreneurship journey.
Until Next Time,