Daily Deals: A Good Marketing Tactic for SLPs and Audiologists—or Not? Heard of Groupon or LivingSocial? Chances are, if you haven't heard about these “daily deal” websites or others like them, you probably will soon. As restaurants and other businesses have reaped the benefits of daily deals, other kinds of businesses have started to show interest in the concept for marketing ... Make It Work
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Make It Work  |   June 01, 2011
Daily Deals: A Good Marketing Tactic for SLPs and Audiologists—or Not?
Author Notes
  • Maggie McGary, online ASHA community and social media manager, can be reached at mmcgary@asha.org.
    Maggie McGary, online ASHA community and social media manager, can be reached at mmcgary@asha.org.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Language Disorders / Make It Work
Make It Work   |   June 01, 2011
Daily Deals: A Good Marketing Tactic for SLPs and Audiologists—or Not?
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.16062011.np
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.MIW.16062011.np
Heard of Groupon or LivingSocial? Chances are, if you haven't heard about these “daily deal” websites or others like them, you probably will soon. As restaurants and other businesses have reaped the benefits of daily deals, other kinds of businesses have started to show interest in the concept for marketing their services—notably, medical services like dental exams and cosmetic surgical procedures. It's only a matter of time until daily-deal sites begin promoting their services to other kinds of medical providers, including speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, approximately 23 million Americans purchased deals from daily-deal sites in 2010. U.S. consumer spending on daily-deal sites is expected to reach $1.25 billion this year, up from $873 million in 2010. That's a lot of sales and a high volume of potential repeat business, for little or no up-front investment. There is typically no up-front cost to businesses advertising on deal sites—usually the deal site takes 50% of the purchase price for all deals sold. For instance, in the case of a typical restaurant deal offering a $50 gift certificate for which the consumer pays $25, the deal site keeps 50% and the restaurant earns 50%.
Luke Barber (homespeechhome.com) is a speech-language pathologist who also is involved with a family business that happens to be a daily-deal site. As Barber sees it, daily-deal sites could be a great way for SLPs or audiologists to market their practices or services—or a potentially risky marketing tactic. “From an SLP or audiologist's point of view, group deals could be fantastic because of the potential for repeat business. For a private-practice clinician to offer, for instance, a speech-language evaluation for half off is brilliant because of the potential for future business.” Barber elaborated that another potential area for daily-deal marketing could be telepractice—such deals could be great on national sites because they're not limited by geographical area and could potentially draw clients from many areas.
There are many different deal sites, each with different target audiences—for instance, Plumdistrict and Mamapedia are two sites that target parents. There also are many local deal sites, which Barber said would work best for on-premise treatment.
Alexandra Costlow, a second-year audiology doctoral student at the University of Maryland, pointed out that daily deal sites also could potentially be a good way to raise awareness about audiologists among younger people (68% of Groupon's subscribers are 18–34 years old). Group deals also could be a way audiologists could promote special deals or events during Better Hearing and Speech Month.
But just as there are possible benefits to daily deals as a marketing tool for SLPs and audiologists, both Costlow and Barber point out some significant drawbacks. The ethical quicksand around discounting speech or hearing services is notable—ranging from current clients complaining that they're paying more for the same services being advertised at a discounted rate to potential health insurance or anti-kickback law issues. If one of the main benefits of group deals is garnering new clients who you hope will become repeat clients, clinicians should know that the conversion rate from one-time daily-deal customer to repeat customer is low—the current estimate for conversions is around 19%. With repeat business already a known issue, will new clients reeled in by a group deal expect to pay that discounted rate for future visits? Also, even the best-case scenario of group deals could be troublesome for solo practitioners inundated with clients who purchase a deal, a common complaint of small businesses that have offered mass discounts through daily-deal sites.
Although daily deals make sense for restaurants and other entertainment venues or products, the risks involved in using them as a marketing tactic for SLPs or audiologists are considerable. Clinicians are cautioned to think carefully about the implications of offering discounted services, especially as it relates to contracts with private or public insurers if contracts include stipulations about providing the best price for services.
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June 2011
Volume 16, Issue 6