Tweak Your Biz » Marketing » Pros Vs. Cons: Are Group Buying Sites Good For Your Business?

Pros Vs. Cons: Are Group Buying Sites Good For Your Business?



I recently availed of some CityDeals, and went along to four restaurants to find out about the group buying phenomenon for myself.  However the experience was one of disappointment! How come these businesses failed to take advantage of this opportunity? In an effort to answer this question, I’m going to argue that group buying sites do provide businesses with an effective marketing channel, but only when used properly.

First up, I invited Shane O Leary, Communications Manager for mylunch.ie, Ireland’s biggest lunch value site, to give us some background information and argue against from the viewpoint of the restaurant industry.

Here’s Shane’s take:

The proliferation of daily deals sites in the market currently is staggering. International exponents such as Groupon and Living Social and Irish equivalents such as BoardsDeals and Pigsback (can it even be called social buying?) have sprung up. I’m sure that everyone who is reading this has either availed of an offer, or is at least familiar with what these entities do.

How it works

You know the drill, a massive discount (sometimes as much as 80%) off a product or service, with an upper limit amount of deals to be bought, and usually a lower limit too (meaning you are invited to share the deal with your friends to activate it).

The market for this has gotten so big, that subsidiaries have now sprung up (see sift.ie or dealpage.ie for examples), which simply list all the daily deals on one page, meaning no longer will you have to sift through ten mails every morning to find what you’re looking for

Even the big boys are getting on board, and Facebook Deals and Google Offers, while not direct competitors, are undoubtedly based on a similar model.

Google famously tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion, an offer which was declined and was followed up by rumours of an initial IPO valuation of $25 billion for Groupon itself.

The model is obviously lucrative, but with the early signs of market saturation and/or a bubble beginning, the question has emerged, are group buying sites actually good for business?

“As a food lover and restaurant goer, and from regular interactions with owners of food retail establishments, I have quite strong feelings on this particular subject, and a deep understanding of how they impact the restaurant sector.

Let’s look at it from a retailer’s point of view.

A large, successful operation, with a huge marketing budget and thousands of your prospective customers at their call comes to you, offering much needed exposure to your venue, and the opportunity to drive guaranteed footfall in your door.

A no-brainer right? You offer the prescribed discount, follow their advice and wait for the stampede. After all, once people taste your food, they’ll definitely return.

To an already struggling restaurateur, the lure of more covers is tantalising, even if they are chopping already trimmed margins. Typically, these deals are based around something like 50% off your service/food etc, but what many on both sides of the counter don’t realise, it that most of these sites also take up to 30% of the rest of the margin, so generally as a retailer you are making quite a loss on the exercise.

On top of this, some of the sites delay payment from the deals purchased for up to 90 days, at 1/3 of the gross revenues per month, meaning the cost of each deal is weighted on the restaurant for that period.

But offering such a deal is really a marketing exercise for all intent and purpose, and even with the above negatives, it’s still a worthwhile exercise to get bums on seats right? After all, quite a large percentage of all deals are said to be never used, and plus, new customers are sure to come back once they taste your food right?

Well no, not necessarily. From conversing with hundreds of owners who have used the sites, they say that after the prime redemption period, they see very little of the redeemers again, and many of these “Deal Whores”, as one owner so eloquently put it, just move on to the next restaurant deal.

Have we become so used to these deals that we simply expect them now, and is this a fatal flaw in the model, that it sure doesn’t promote loyalty and repeat trade as a primary goal?

You can now obviously see why certain types of service providers (grooming, hairdressing, pedicures etc) can afford to avail of the sites, but for those eateries that do use it, they really need to maximise what it does for them. There have been many complaints of smaller portions, worse service and generally a bad experience, and this is literally like throwing away all of the opportunities group buying affords the small business.

The very worst thing that you can do, is agree to a deal and not maximise its returns for you. If you’re not conversion focused, and don’t show the user how good your offering is, these prospective customers will become the worst kind of ambassadors which you can imagine.

Who can it work for in the restaurant industry?

  • New venues looking for “pure performance marketing”, and to get the word out that they are open for business
  • Those premises with enough cash reserves to stave off the possible lack of cash flow, and still provide a good experience to the deal purchaser
  • Conversion (repeat business is the primary conversion goal) focused restaurants, who aim to provide as good an exposure to their offering as possible, in a bid to ensure the redeemer returns.

Who does it not work for in the restaurant industry?

  • Those who see it simply as a way to get covers in the door and abide by the vanity that are turnover numbers.
  • Those who use it to off load poor quality or poor selling stock.
  • Any venue who diminishes the quality of their offering during the period of the deal, in a bid to lower the cost to them.
  • Those who have figured it into their business model, as a continuous means to market themselves. (Believe me, there are some, and the resultant brand damage is massive.)

For the sites themselves, it’s a great business model, and they sure are making a mint from it. It works for some retailers, and of course it’s good for consumers, but there’s no doubt that if people keep expecting such huge one off deals all the time, and aren’t loyal to the restaurant afterwards, it may harm the restaurant industry.

With sporadic factors such as the market possibly reaching saturation point, users getting fed up of a ton of deal emails waiting for them every morning, a heightened effort to get deeper and deeper discounts from businesses as more sites seek to gain consumer attention, and an obvious limitation on the amount of businesses whom the sites can target (with repeat deals not an option for many), will this perfect storm combine to undermine the ability of such sites to get businesses to participate?

The overall business model may be lucrative, but is it lucrative enough for the businesses involved?

A recent study by an American University concluded that in the services sector, restaurants tended to do poorly, while salons and spas were more successful, so perhaps it’s certain types of businesses that are feeling the negative side of this type of promotion?

Thank you, Shane!

Now it’s my turn to argue for:

Group buying sites work because customers are always on the look out for value for their money. In understanding how best to make this opportunity work for your business, it’s worthwhile to understand what they are not:

  1. A sales channel
  2. A profit making exercise
  3. An opportunity to offer a lesser service

Many business owners may well be ending up damaging their business as a result of misunderstanding the group buying opportunity, but that is not the same as saying that it doesn’t work! So what is it?

Group buying sites are a marketing channel

They present a unique opportunity to:

  • Pay nothing up front
  • Get lots of exposure for free on the site and in the email blast
  • Get lots of people through your door
  • Up sell people when they’re onsite
  • Capture details for follow up marketing
  • Get repeat business
  • Get word of mouth
  • Get social Buzz

Group buying vs. traditional advertising

When you compare with traditional marketing i.e newspaper adverts etc,  it’s a non competition! What other form of advertising can deliver potentially 1000s of new customers through your door in such a short space of time? None!

Cost of Acquisition

The cost of acquiring a new customer is a critical consideration when deciding whether or not, a group buying site is right for your business.  If you are a boat trip provider, then you run a fixed cost business so having additional passengers at a discounted rate won’t cost much extra. If on the other hand, you are a restaurant owner, as in Shane’s examples above the customer acquisition cost is likely to be greater, but there are still plenty of ways to keep it down.

Opportunity Cost

Also, a business such as a restaurants should of course consider the opportunity cost of using the group buying model ie. a discounted user displacing a full price paying customer etc.

Customer Service

As I mentioned, my own experience of using CityDeals to try out some new restaurants was very disappointing. In all cases, the customer service was very poor. Now I don’t know if this was because I was a group buying customer or these restaurants usually treat their customers badly.

The point is that! Customer service combined with group buying has the potential to be either very benefical or very damaging – for two pretty straightforward reasons:

  1. It is the major factor in that customer returning
  2. People are going to tell their friends about the experiece

Think about it! If a business gives 100s of people a good or bad customer experience, these same people will then tell their 100s of friends and very quickly you have created a viral word of mouth that could be good or bad depending.

First impressions will go a long way

In a city the size of Dublin, this  viral effect could be far reaching and very benefical or it could also have dire consequences for any business. The key is to look upon it as an opportunity to increase the reputation of the business, ensuring that you make your very best first impression with all these possible new patrons.

Employess

It is  important to brief your staff and explain to them what’s required, they will need to represent the business in the right way.

Up-selling

It should go without saying that the customer experience is also strongly allied to the opportunity to up-sell. If it’s good, people are  much more likely to order more than their voucher entitles them to.

Capturing details for follow up marketing

Another effective means of creating repeat business  is to capture the customer’s details so that the business has additional opportunities to do follow up marketing. For example, send customers a questionnaire asking them about their experience and entitling them to an additional special offer etc.

Group buying will work for smart businesses that prepare well to take advantage of the opportunity

The group buying model can be a very effective marketing channel but only when used properly. It has an inbuilt potency that traditional advertising simply can’t match but as with all powerful forces, this can just as easily be destructive if a business misunderstands what group buying is.  My advice is to give it some serious consideration, but don’t jump blindly or you’ll simply end up with a lot of unhappy people spreading the wrong message about your business.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or take part in our LinkedIn Poll

 



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The Author:

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (TweakYourBiz.com, BizSugar.com & MyKidsTime.ie) to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care. http://tweakyourbiz.com/

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/TheTrips John ‘Trips’ Gallen

    Excellent post Niall! As always, thanks for sharing, John

  • http://twitter.com/garethfox Gary Fox

    Great post and very insightful. I had the very same conversation with someone a few days ago after a very negative experience with a deal.nThe deal was very good value, however when I tried to redeem the deal I was treated like some sort of freeloader and can say without doubt experienced the worst customer service in Dublin.nLong story short, but I had to return a number of days later to redeem the deal again and this time the business had “closed for the foreseeable future”. No loss to Dublin’s restaurant scene but its a very good example of how business owners should NOT deal with customers availing of offers. If you are not happy with the offer then dont take part. Simple. I think some businesses who are struggling are turning to the Deals as some sort of desperate last roll of the dice.u00a0

  • http://www.de-stress4life.com/ Catherine Connors

    Niall, an excellent post… clearly the day of eating a good meal at a good price with nice service seems to be under attack…. nnOne has to wonder after the first rush of people waving coupons has passed how many businesses could continue to offer such reductions and remain in the black… there is also the other side of the coin is that those who eat in one restaurent today will be eating in another tomorrow, how many will really return? will you be returning to any that you have eaten at?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had both good and bad experiences with Group Deals and I agree, there is no point participating if your going to give anything but the best service and food you can offer. u00a0There is one restaurant I’llu00a0definitelyu00a0go back to and another that I’ll tell others to avoid like the plague. u00a0When cashing in your vouchers becomes a painful part of the process you always go away with a bad taste in your mouth. u00a0I had to leave two friends in a long conversation with a bar man so that I could get the last train home… needless to say I won’t be recommending that venue again.n

  • Anonymous

    Personally I haven’t availed of many of these offers as the last time I checked many of them are centred around Dublin. u00a0Perhaps that has changed recently. u00a0I think that in our current economic situation people are going to try to take advantage of whateveru00a0bargainsu00a0are out there, so I guess it doesn’t come as au00a0surpriseu00a0if people just move from offer to offer. u00a0Maybe this is just the wrong economic climate for businesses to reap the rewards of repeat business that these offers might bring.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Yes people are now looking to spend their money wisely but I remain unconvinced that all or even most people are just simply moving from offer to offer.u00a0I think businesses that are partaking need to realise that there is a significant difference between value for money and cheap

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    For me, the most marketingu00a0serious tool that any restaurant has is word of mouth, offline or online! Restaurantsu00a0who combine group deals with bad service are doing huge damage to themselves, many without realising. They have got too understand that online is a potent tool, but it works both ways.u00a0

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    No I won’t even though that was partly objective, to find new places to eat in. Frankly, I’m usually really bad when it comes to shopping around for new places to eatu00a0because once I find somewhere good, I like to stick to it.u00a0The real winners in this are the restaurants I already know to be good.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Bad business people run bad businesses & I haven’t seen muchu00a0evidence latelyu00a0of the recession doing much for customer service standards here. If youu00a0approachu00a0group deals as some kind last throw of the dice, it will end up adding plenty water to an already sinking ship :)u00a0

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thank you John, glad you liked it :)

  • http://twitter.com/DerrynoidCentre Derrynoid Centre

    Great post – our facility has now just done it’s second offer with Groupon, to great success. However went along the lines of your advice Niall and we had a strategy of customer acquisition, up-sell, follow-up, and we also made sure that all guests who took the offer were treated just as well as our full-paying guests. We also really plugged TripAdvisor too and we’ve got some brilliant feedback there too.nnI totally agree with the point not to rush into it blindly as whilst it sounds very attractive to have many hundreds of extra customers through your door, if it’s not managed properly it could put your lights out.nnAgain really good post, thanks for writing itnnAidan BreslinnDerrynoid Centre

  • http://twitter.com/DerrynoidCentre Derrynoid Centre

    Great post – our facility has now just done it’s second offer with Groupon, to great success. However went along the lines of your advice Niall and we had a strategy of customer acquisition, up-sell, follow-up, and we also made sure that all guests who took the offer were treated just as well as our full-paying guests. We also really plugged TripAdvisor too and we’ve got some brilliant feedback there too.nnI totally agree with the point not to rush into it blindly as whilst it sounds very attractive to have many hundreds of extra customers through your door, if it’s not managed properly it could put your lights out.nnAgain really good post, thanks for writing itnnAidan BreslinnDerrynoid Centre

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Aidan, great insights!u00a0nnYou guys used it the way it should and you are seeing the benefits, Iu00a0particularlyu00a0like plugging TripAdviser, that was a smart move, Well done and thanks again for sharing your story.u00a0nn- Niall

  • Anonymous

    Great article.nnOne of the original Daily Deal Aggregation Sites, http://www.yipit.com has an interesting article on the same subject that quotes some academic research from Rice University. It also includes a handy spreadsheet for a merchant to estimate the profitability of a Daily Deal promotion.nnYou can see the article hereu00a0http://blog.yipit.com/2011/01/10/daily-deal-success-is-all-about-new-customers/nnThanks for the mention of http://www.sift.iennShanen

  • Denise

    Very interesting article as I have a number of restaurant clients who don’t use these group deal sites. nnIf you are a restaurant that strategically plans how it will acquire customers and have plans as to what you’ll do to build a relationship with said attracted customers, then these group deals are a great idea. It’s another string to their marketing bow.u00a0 nnAs a marketing advisor to restaurants, I really feel personally insulted when I get bad customer service. So if a restaurant chooses to use these group deals to promote their business but doesn’t have a good customer care policy on board, then they’re headed for trouble. nnFact of the matter is this: every restaurant needs to have everything right, everytime before they sign up to these sites. If you do, as you say Niall, then the potential is there to attract and retain new customers. nnReally enjoyed the article. More please!

  • Paula

    Great post Gianni! I think the intern situation is just a pyramid scheme of labour value, where the people at the bottom are enticed to invest a sum of their valuable time and effort with the promise of career progression. In fact the only winners are those at the top that go out to play the system. Nobody realises the true damage being done until the whole thing collapses. Taking on an intern should be a big responsibility for the employer in terms of providing good training, advice and other help to the intern.u00a0

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    nnInternships can and should be a two way street. Employers shouldnput in place a formal mentoring programme for interns, so that interns canntruly learn from the experience of other staff. It can be difficult to get anjob without experience, and an internship should bridge that gap. However, somenof the internships that have been advertised appear to be simply job vacancies requiringnexperienced staff, and are potentially exploitative in nature. Bad attitude isnbad business and will rebound on these employers. It would be great to hearnsome positive intern stories from other commenters u2013 hopefully there are some!nThanks Gianni for raising an important ethical issue and welcome tonBloggertone!nnn

  • http://twitter.com/gianniponzi Gianni Ponzi

    Thanks HelennnThe only way is for the Gov to set down much more stringent rules re: internships. I doubt that will happen.

  • http://twitter.com/gianniponzi Gianni Ponzi

    Thanks Paula! nnI think it’s a direct effect of consumers wanting everything for as little as possible. I.e. cheap food, cheap cars etc.nnThis is spilling over into the services industry, so I suppose we’re also partly responsible..

  • http://twitter.com/gianniponzi Gianni Ponzi

    Thanks NiallnnI have to admit it was a bit nerve wracking and I hope the post was up to the Bloggertone standard!

  • http://www.ecoevolution.ie Mary Gethings

    nnI wasnactually discussing this very topic yesterday with a colleague so itu2019s good tonsee this very worrying trend being highlighted. The onus should be on allnemployers to provide mentoring and suitable training for the intern and also benfully responsible for their welfare. Stricter rules and conditions also need tonbe put in place so as to prevent this type of exploitation which sadly seems tonbe on the increase throughout all sectors. Gianni you are so right when you saynu201cvaluing your staff,n(interns or not), can surely only benefit your company, both in terms of staffnmorale and public perceptionu201d. u00a0Alwaysnremember u2018what goes around comes aroundu2019!nnnu00a0nnnIu2019m surenthere are many interns out there who have had a very positive experience andnmany employers who have valued the knowledge and expertise of their interns.nnnu00a0nnnA great first post Gianni!

  • Tommy Collison

    I’m a secondary school student and I interned with a well-known national newspaper for 2 weeks.u00a0nnThe way I see internships and the paid v unpaid debate rests on what the intern is doing. If they’re tangibly helping the company or if they’re there in a largely learning capacity. I was mostly learning in the newspaper (even if I was submitting articles), so I don’t at all feel ‘hard-done by’ that I wasn’t paid. In fact, those newspaper articles are going to stand to me with my college applications in the future — so I would’ve paid THEM to publish articles in my name. I’m okay with unpaid interns if the student is getting other ‘perks’ like helping his college application or learning more about his proposed field of study.nnAnyhow — as a secondary school student, I’m speaking here with absolutely no authority.u00a0

  • Tommy Collison

    I’m a secondary school student and I interned with a well-known national newspaper for 2 weeks.u00a0nnThe way I see internships and the paid v unpaid debate rests on what the intern is doing. If they’re tangibly helping the company or if they’re there in a largely learning capacity. I was mostly learning in the newspaper (even if I was submitting articles), so I don’t at all feel ‘hard-done by’ that I wasn’t paid. In fact, those newspaper articles are going to stand to me with my college applications in the future — so I would’ve paid THEM to publish articles in my name. I’m okay with unpaid interns if the student is getting other ‘perks’ like helping his college application or learning more about his proposed field of study.nnAnyhow — as a secondary school student, I’m speaking here with absolutely no authority.u00a0

  • Tommy Collison

    I’m a secondary school student and I interned with a well-known national newspaper for 2 weeks.u00a0nnThe way I see internships and the paid v unpaid debate rests on what the intern is doing. If they’re tangibly helping the company or if they’re there in a largely learning capacity. I was mostly learning in the newspaper (even if I was submitting articles), so I don’t at all feel ‘hard-done by’ that I wasn’t paid. In fact, those newspaper articles are going to stand to me with my college applications in the future — so I would’ve paid THEM to publish articles in my name. I’m okay with unpaid interns if the student is getting other ‘perks’ like helping his college application or learning more about his proposed field of study.nnAnyhow — as a secondary school student, I’m speaking here with absolutely no authority.u00a0

  • Tommy Collison

    I’m a secondary school student and I interned with a well-known national newspaper for 2 weeks.u00a0nnThe way I see internships and the paid v unpaid debate rests on what the intern is doing. If they’re tangibly helping the company or if they’re there in a largely learning capacity. I was mostly learning in the newspaper (even if I was submitting articles), so I don’t at all feel ‘hard-done by’ that I wasn’t paid. In fact, those newspaper articles are going to stand to me with my college applications in the future — so I would’ve paid THEM to publish articles in my name. I’m okay with unpaid interns if the student is getting other ‘perks’ like helping his college application or learning more about his proposed field of study.nnAnyhow — as a secondary school student, I’m speaking here with absolutely no authority.u00a0

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Thanks to Tommy for adding value to this thought provoking, great first BT post Gianni!nnRequiring a PhD or experience for an internship plainly means it is being masked when in reality it should be a proper paying job.nInterns expecting monetary and other “perks” need a reality check.nnTommy puts it well, “those newspaper articles are going to stand to me with my college applications in the future” – clearly a win-win situation for him, and the said newspaper.nnUnfortunately this is a debate that is emotionally fueled, especially now, especially in this country (Ireland)nIf it’s not a win-win situation, then someone is abusing someone else!

  • http://www.ecoevolution.ie Mary Gethings

    I wasu00a0 discussing this very topic yesterday with a colleague and it is good to see it being highlighted. The onus should be on the employer to provide mentoring and suitable training for the intern and also be fully responsible for their welfare. Stricter rules and conditions (with no loopholes) need to be put in place so as to prevent this type of exploitation which sadly seems to be very prevelant. nnGianni you are so right when you say valuing your staff, (interns or not), can surely only benefit yourncompany, both in terms of staff morale and public perception.u00a0 nAs the saying goes u2018what goes around comes aroundu2019! So, if employers donu2019t treat staff/interns correctly and with respect u00a0well then at the end of the day it will be their own downfall. Bad press travels very quickly!nIu2019m sure there are many interns out there who have had a very positive experience and many employers who have valued the knowledge and expertise of their interns.nnA great first post Gianni!

  • http://www.ecoevolution.ie Mary Gethings

    I was discussing this very topic yesterday with a colleague and it is good to see it being highlighted. The onus should be on the employer to provide mentoring and suitable training for the intern and also be fully responsible for their welfare. Stricter rules and conditions (with no loopholes) need to be put in place so as to prevent this type of exploitation which sadly seems to be very prevelant. nnGianni you are so right when you say valuing your staff, (interns or not), can surely only benefit yourncompany, both in terms of staff morale and public perception. nAs the saying goes u2018what goes around comes aroundu2019! So, if employers donu2019t treat staff/interns correctly and with respect well then at the end of the day it will be their own downfall. Bad press travels very quickly!nIu2019m sure there are many interns out there who have had a very positive experience and many employers who have valued the knowledge and expertise of their interns.nnA great first post Gianni!u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0

  • http://twitter.com/gianniponzi Gianni Ponzi

    Thank you Mary :-)nu00a0

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    It is great to see a business doing well on Social Media without a huge following.  Even better to hear that at first Oldham Pork resisted both mediums to grow their business, but they now see the positive results of it.

    I’ve been talking to somebody on Linked In recently who said both Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time, he dislikes them.  My belief is he just still doesn’t “get” them yet.  That and the fact that for a lot of his business Facebook might well be a waste of time but Twitter certainly wouldn’t, if he’d give it a chance.

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Niall, well
    done for getting Margaret to share her story. It’s easy to get 1000’s of
    followers on twitter if you work the system and you can buy Facebook
    “likes” through advertising. For some, these numbers are merely
    vanity, it’s not contributing to their business profitability at all, in fact I’d
    call it a social bubble. There’s a lot of nonsense talked by some social media
    and digital marketing “experts”, as there are only 2 business numbers
    that really matter, cash flow and profits. Big social media followings often
    bear no relationship to profit.

    Small can be
    profitable, bring it on Margaret. Thanks for sharing a great story!
    ~ Helen

  • http://www.garrendennylane.ie/blog Lorna

    Great post and case study Niall, there is so much I can empathise with here and it was lovely to see Margaret featured in the Farmers Journal this week too. From my own experiences it is from getting the word out there slowly and steadily that reaps the rewards and it is great to see them doing so well.

  • Margaret O’Farrell

    Thank you everyone for such kind comments!  It is so difficult at times to get the right balance on it all… what I consider mundane is of such interest to others looking in.  Sometimes I post a comment and think… that won’t generate any interest and next thing you have loads of comments!  It is always a balancing act.  Thanks again.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thank you, Ivana, If you are to consider customers to fans ratios, I reckon it’s one of the most effective Facebook pages that I have come across. 

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Helen, I loved your comment on Twitter:

     “likes are for vanity, sales are for sanity!”

    I might borrow that one, if it’s OK with you? 

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Lorna, I know you are another who believes in really engaging with your community on Facebook.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Mairead, I’m not sure If I understand you correctly? A lot of people/businesses waste their time on Facebook, but I don’t agree that Facebook is a waste of time for a lot of businesses.  

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    That would be super, Frank. The more examples we can share of small businesses getting real results, the better!

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, Margaret!

    I’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from people, saying that they learnt a lot from you so, well done and may I wish you and Oldfarm continued success. 

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    Facebook is not suitable for all businesses (my Linked In contact being one), his is more suited to Linked In as his clients don’t use Facebook.

    It also doesn’t help that he has a very negative and dismissive attitude to both Facebook and Twitter, so from the get-go he would not get the best from them.

    I also meant that a lot of people waste their time on Facebook by not using it properly, that and the fact that they don’t really know what they are doing on it, what outcomes they want.  They go on because “everyone” says its a great way to get business, but they don’t devise a proper strategy for it.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    49% of the Irish population over 15 yrs of age are on Facebook. Does he actually know that don’t include his clients or is that just an assumption on his behalf?

  • http://www.facebook.com/marky.burrows Marky Boy Burrows

    Hi

    I love your article as we too keep pigs but it is our Chicken business that has a similar story to you.

    Which came first the chicken or the egg, well for us it
    was definitely the chicken. We got our first chickens from a garden centre over
    20 years ago and have been keeping them ever since.

     

    9 years ago we took the huge decision to move from our
    nice little council house where we had lived for 14 years to a smallholding in
    rural Lincolnshire to follow our dream and have a go at living the good life.

     

    We took 6 chickens with us and quickly added to this number,
    now we had more room for them. It has been a great experience and I have no
    regrets about doing it.

     

    Our front paddock borders the main road so it has been
    easy to sell the surplus eggs which in turn pays for the chicken feed and with
    over 50 chickens that’s quite a lot of eggs.

     

    However events would happen that would literally change
    our lives. A couple of years ago a big national company took over the local
    rest home where my wife worked part time, she had worked there for over 4 years
    and as well as getting her out the house so to speak it gave her her own little
    bit of money. Within 2 months of the takeover nearly half the staff had been
    sacked for one reason or another and they made life so unbearable for the
    remainder that Sharon said enough is enough and reluctantly left.

     

    The problem was she missed her own bit of money but as
    the nearest town is 9 miles away it would be nigh on impossible to find another
    part time job.

     

    From time to time people would call because they had seen
    the chickens in the front field and would ask if we had any chickens for sale
    but of course we use to say that we only sell the eggs, however a while after
    Sharon had become a lady of leisure I suddenly had a thought why not start a
    small business selling a few chickens that would enable Sharon to have her own
    pocket money again and she would be doing something we both really loved.

     

    As there was no real competition locally we felt sure it
    would be a success so we decided to go for it. We bought some breeding stock of
    rare and pure breeds and set about setting things up.

     

    I made a huge sign and put it up by the road side and as
    the chickens became ready they sold as quick as we could breed them but it was
    a slow process, as word spread it became harder to keep up with demand, however
    it was only a hobby business so we just left it to tick over.

     

    Fast forward to about 9 months ago when because of the
    increasing demand we began to see the huge possibilities with the business and
    decided to expand it. I said it would be good if we supplied birds that wernt
    available locally and instead of doing the rare and pure breeds we wanted to do
    hybrid (cross breeds) chickens that were friendly, good egg layers, and lived a
    long life. After about 50-60 phone calls we found a reputable supplier who
    would deliver the chickens at 16 weeks old ready to sell, they were fully
    vaccinated and there were 12 different types to choose from so could cater for
    everyones taste.

     

    The chickens proved very popular and so with the help of
    my son in law we built a website showing all the chickens we sold and it became
    very popular and got us a lot of enquiries.

     

    However it was when we started using social media that
    the business really started to take off, in particular the use of Facebook. In
    January this year I did a Facebook Fanpage or Like Page as they are now called
    and called it I Really Love Keeping Chickens. Within only 4 weeks and a lot of
    hard work we had nearly 1000 fans on the page. As well as engaging with all our
    fans we have recently started using it as a marketing tool and we encourage
    everyone who buys chickens here to post pictures and testimonials of their new
    chickens, also we have added a Special Offers section with paypal buttons for a
    couple of products and are now making sales straight off the fanpage. Everyone
    loves the page and it now has a fan base of nearly 2300 and rising.

     

    What is interesting is that other people are now taking
    notice of the page and are saying if he can do that with chickens then surely
    we could do that with our business.

     

    Facebook is great for promoting your businesss and I am
    now known as “The Chicken Guy” but we are now looking at other forms
    of social media such as Twitter, Squidoo, stumbleupon and others.

     

    It has been a great journey for us and we are now
    generating nearly a full time income.We are currently working on a shopping
    cart for all things chicken

     

    We now really want to take the whole thing to the next
    level using the internet and social media.

     

    Our main site which sits happily on the first page of
    google out of 13.9 million competing pages is http://www.chickens-for-sale.com

     

    Our very popular Blog also on the first page of google is
    http://www.ilovekeepingchickens.com

     

    Our Facebook Fanpage http://www.facebook.com/ilovekeepingchickens

     

    Our shoppng cart is http://ilovekeepingchickens.com/shop-online/

     

    So hopefully a bright future for me Sharon and Chicken
    House Poultry

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Marky, I’m Niall, the community manager here at Bloggertone. Yours is a another great story that I would love to publish, if you are interested? Please e-mail at niall(at)bloggerttone.com or @nialldevitt:twitter on Twitter. 

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Niall, I paraphrased The Bankers Mantra on twitter. The Bankers Mantra is:”Turnover is Vanity. Profit is Sanity. Cash is Reality.”
    I wrote a blog post about this last year, http://www.xbs.ie/insights/56-insights/175-business-numbers-that-matter as I am concerned at the number of businesses that lose the profit focus. They chase numbers that don’t contribute to profit at the expense of profit – social media provides a perfect example of this. I am planning a blog post on  “likes are for vanity, sales are for sanity”, probably for here.But fire ahead and use the phrase by all means – I probably use too many puns anyway!Well done on the case study – a post of a pig, not a pig of a post.~Helen

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    lol, love it! :)

    Please write that post?

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    What a great Case Study Niall. One day I plan to travel to Old Farm and see the carry on with Clarence (or his successor) It is a fantastic story and Margaret and Alfie are perfect examples of how innovative people are getting with farming in Ireland, and of course extra ways to make income.

    A friend of mine does web site deign, only for the farming community, as it is indeed a special arena and heritage of countries like ours. But to take on social media whilst being skeptical was the best move ever! Well done to Margaret and Alfie.

    Margaret’s commented below ~ “what I consider mundane is of such interest to others looking in” can be a huge issue with people starting with social media. It can often feel like no-one is listening, and yet, the things we consider irrelevant, mundane or uninteresting, can often spark the best interaction.

    I think Social Media should be renamed “Social Interaction”

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thank you, Aisling. I’m glad you liked the post :)

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Great point about renaming it to “Social Interaction”, which I think would give people a much more accurate description as to where they need to start.  Thanks for the great comment, Elaine.  

  • http://www.garrendennylane.ie/blog Lorna

    A great post Frank, I do have a copy of the book and still haven’t read it but I see now that I will get a lot out of it when I get around to it. As Marie says, she has definitely created a tribe with her JBBC site.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Lorna, 

    People (fans) don’t look at updates on the page, they engage via their newsfeed (consider: edgerank).

    A custom tab helps to get people to like the page initially, but as you point out, there after it’s all about content and engagement. 

    The brand that you describe sounds like they are doing a great job of damaging their brand via Facebook, pretty clueless stuff! 

  • http://www.garrendennylane.ie/blog Lorna

    Yes, I know what you mean but when deciding to like a page or not, I discovered that I was looking at the updates on a page as one of the criteria for deciding whether or not to become a fan of that page – something that I hadn’t really realised I was doing until I was partaking in one of these rather mad page liking schemes!  I’ll be doing a blog post on them once I have done some more research :)

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Were these were pages without custom tabs where the landing page was set to the wall? or did you click through to the wall before liking? 

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    If it’s not delivering more customers and sales, it’s not worth doing. Facebook is an important (and integrated) piece of an overall sales and marketing strategy for MKT, In its simplest terms, sign ups, traffic and fans are leading to more opportunities and customers for the business. Thank you, Helen :)   

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the comment Warren. It certainly is a good “good news” post

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Sian, what a great article, It’s very interesting to hear the different perspectives of what it’s like to live here. Well done everyone! 

  • Warren Rutherford

    Sian – nicely done. As one with a Scottish name, Italian, Dutch, and Irish heritage I enjoyed reading the mix of nationalities weigh in on being Irish.  Too often in the States you find a veritable melting pot of nationalities in people that can tend to obscure their most influential culture. 

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Lorna – I should have included you as you’d be in the UK. Next time :)

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Warren, gosh you have a mix of heritage there. Handy for following sport :)

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    You’re welcome Elli, I’m glad you liked the finished result

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Niall – glad you liked it

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Debi and I completely agree there is more to this than they are saying. Fingers crossed it really is sorted next week

  • http://www.blackbrotherssecurity.com/ Security Companies Ireland

    Nowadays online security is essential for everyone who are
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  • http://twitter.com/denisefay Denise Fay

    Hi Aoife, great tips. I would add that if you’re planning on emailing for business, make sure you have people’s permission to email. I tend to get so many emails today and because I know I didn’t sign up, I immediately hit delete.

    So I particularly like your advice on point no. 1.

    Take care,
    Denise

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Debi,
    Thanks so much and glad you found it useful, enjoy exploring!! I have yet to upgrade my 3GS and looking forward to meeting Siri lol – she is not great on the non US English apparently (perfect example here of Japanese accent – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiU8GPlsZqE)

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Most welcome Elli,
    If you explore just one useful app from the list – my job here is done :)

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    I am downloading that App as I type Helen thanks. I use the iWork Apple Apps but it’s useful to be able to DO Word, Excel etc also.
    Thanks for sharing that and glad you found something useful in the list :)

  • John Twohig

    Jasus, I have a lot to learn…..

  • http://www.theexecutivesuite.com/blog/ Warren Rutherford

    My goodness – more stuff!  No iPad here. Use the iPhone so like Siri (nice Norwegian name), Evernote (encouraged by my British client), Skype, and a few others.  What I really like is the suggestion for AudioMemos, since that will help me with my dictation of Tweets, blogs, etc.  Ah, learning more everyday.   Glad you know all this Elaine.

  • http://tweakyourbiz.com/ Niall Devitt

    lol, Ouch! what a come back! ;-)

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Niall Devitt

    Hi Mariciel, I noticed that and the traffic has kept coming in ever since. That said, it needed to be a good post in the first instance to get those thumbs up so congratulaions again.