Reaching prospective tech-savvy patients with Groupon

Sept. 24, 2010

By Kevin Henry
Managing Editor, Dental Economics

Everyone loves a deal, and it seems as if everyone is in love with Groupon.

According to the Groupon Web site, “Groupon negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services, and cultural events. Then we offer the deals to thousands of subscribers in a free daily e-mail. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So our subscribers get a great deal and businesses get a ton of new customers. Win-win. More than just a deal site, Groupon is a city guide, a social tool, and the best way to experience your city without paying full price.”

According to Business Week, Groupon has amassed a more than $1 billion valuation since it was founded in 2008. Groupon charges no up-front fees and takes about 50% of sales it helps generate.

I recently had the chance to speak with Julie Anne Mossler, spokeswoman for Groupon. More and more dentists are starting to use Groupon to draw in new patients, so I wanted to ask Mossler about the company and its ever-growing dental fan base.

Kevin Henry: What are some of the most common questions you hear when clients first become involved with Groupon?

Julie Anne Mossler: We often hear, “What happens when I discount my product?” and “How do I turn these people into repeat customers?” We’ve found that companies that are able to get people into their doors once can turn them into repeat customers. With dental offices, people who take advantage of Groupon are looking for new possibilities and a new dentist. The Groupon deal is really the catalyst to get those people into the office to do procedures such as cleaning or whitening, then the relationship can be built from there.

Henry: How has the response been for dentists who have offered Groupon deals?

Mossler: Redemption is hard for us to track, but 97% of businesses that run a Groupon with us say they would do it again. We see dentistry as an important part of our revenue model. It’s easy for companies to sell a product that comes in a box, but it’s tougher to sell an experience. We think we have a fantastic presence and we’re a neat option for dental offices. Our initial dental offices that worked with us had great success and we’re seeing more and more offices want to sign up.

Henry: What has made Groupon so successful?

Mossler: We bring each business to an online audience. You get a custom write-up for a day and you’re a featured business among our subscriber base. We make sure that the companies we work with — dental or any other business — go through a quality standard process. You have to be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and have positive customer reviews. People look to Groupon to help introduce them to things they want or need. It’s really an unparalleled marketing strategy. Traditionally, customers pay up front with no guarantee of a return. With us, there is a guarantee of a certain number of customers and payment is given after the Groupon ends.

Additionally, if you’re on Groupon and refer a friend who buys their first Groupon deal, the referring person receives $10 in Groupon credit. The more people share, the more they are rewarded.

Henry: What makes Groupon attractive to dental offices?

Mossler: Dentists don’t have to do any marketing to sell their deal. We bring in new patients and we revitalize your customer base. The people who come into the practice are looking to spend money. We have the ability to not only reach people the first time, but if you run a Groupon again, you’ll reach a completely new base of people. If you’re worried about bringing in too many new patients, we can cap the number of Groupons available.

One dental practice that found great success with Groupon was new32 Aesthetic and Family Dentistry in Seattle. I recently talked to Carrie Nosbusch, new32’s office manager, about the practice’s experience with Groupon. You can click here to see a copy of their Groupon.

Kevin Henry: So how did new32 become involved with Groupon?

Carrie Nosbusch: No dentist from Seattle had been featured by Groupon, so they contacted us and we were very excited to be the first. We really didn’t know what to expect.

Henry: So what results did you see?

Nosbusch: It really changed our practice overnight. We were a new practice and this was amazing. We certainly didn’t expect 500 responses, and, since we were new, we had never seen any of those patients before.

Henry: Have those new patients turned into permanent patients?

Nosbusch: Absolutely. They’re coming back in for recall appointments, dental work, etc.

Henry: What advice would you give to a dental practice interested in trying Groupon?

Nosbusch: As long as you have chair availability and space to grow, I think you should do it. We brought in an extra person for a week to help answer the phones because of the response, and that was very important. Also, we made sure we had an education plan in place so when new patients were in the chair, we could educate them about their oral health and let them know what else they needed to do.