Daily deal sites

It's no secret that daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social have changed the way fitness professionals attract new clients. Daily deal sites can be an excellent source of getting new clients into your business without spending thousands of dollars in advertising. In my fitness business it has helped put me on the map and has been the most cost-effective way to get new clients into my boot camp programs. For as much success as I've had with daily deal sites, I've also experienced massive failures. Thankfully I was able to learn quickly before it crippled my business.

Here is a brief overview of how daily deal sites work:
- You submit one or multiple programs to one of the sites, offering the program between 50-75% off the regular price.
- Most daily deal sites will give you 50% of the total revenue generated minus a 2.5% credit card processing fee.
- Depending on which site you are using they will pay you 50% of the revenue up front and the rest in monthly installments. Some will pay you 75% of the revenue within 30 days.
- Customers come in with their voucher to your boot camp and/or personal training studio to use your service; your hope is to turn them into regular clients.

In a nutshell: daily deal sites are a form of paid advertisement. You are essentially paying them to promote you to their email list. While you do get a check at the end of the deal, after you factor in your overhead, you may be taking a loss upfront. The goal is to know how to successfully convert.

Many may think daily deal sites are a waste of time and money, but there are quite a few benefits:
- It offers targeted-based advertising.
- You are outsourcing a portion of the marketing to a company so you can focus on other aspects of your training business.
- You get more exposure to prospects that may never have found you otherwise.
- Most sites offer a dashboard to see not only where your customers are coming from but also their age and gender which helps you for future marketing campaigns.
- It increases the size of your email list to keep the customers in your sales funnel.
- Helps you create more success stories to use as social proof for your business.
- Web traffic helps with SEO rankings.
- It can lead to media coverage (one deal resulted in coverage of my business by a local New York City news station).

Daily deal sites were in its infancy when I ran my first deal over five years ago. At the time there was only Tippr, Groupon and Living Social. Now everywhere you look there is a different daily deal site with multiple deals being run for the same industry.

The very first deal I ran was $19, for an unlimited class program regularly priced at $197. My mindset was just like many fitness professionals in the fact that though I had a company promote my business, I would still get a check and convert these prospects into regular clients by over-delivering!

Sounds great right? Boy was I wrong!

The fact is, the customer who paid $19 ultimately wouldn't pay $197. While it did generate over $10,000 in just three days from the daily deal, my conversion rate was barely 10%. It did expose me to clients that wouldn't have otherwise found me, but I still had to revaluate my marketing plan in terms of having a higher conversion rate.

Here is a brief synopsis on the consumer mindset of daily deal sites in terms of the fitness industry:
- Customers are thinking with their wallet more than ever.
- If you are in a big market such as New York City, Southern California or Florida, chances are that the customer is already receiving deals from at least 3-10 other fitness businesses in your area.
- The typical daily deal consumer most likely has bought vouchers from your competitors.
- If they are slick then they don't have ever pay full price for a boot camp, gym and/or personal training program. They are what I call "Daily Deal Jumpers."

So how do you retain customers using daily deal sites if the odds are stacked against you? Here are five simple steps to retain daily deal customers:

1. Markup your prices by at least 20% before approaching a daily deal site. By using this method you are not dramatically undercutting prices especially since they are asking you to discount your program between 50%-65%.

2. Negotiate the contract! Most sites say that 50% is standard; don't take it! Ask for between 58%-75% of the split. Even if they say no at first, they will call back especially if you have a five-star business. Remember they need your business to make them money as well!

3. Set a limit on how many vouchers you can afford to be sold! Don't go in with the mindset that the more the better. You have bills, staff and other expenses that need to be paid so be realistic about how many vouchers you can adequately afford without breaking bank.

4. Have a special landing page specifically for daily deal customers. You want to make those customers feel like they are getting the best experience and something special from the start. No better way than to set up special landing page with an opt in form. By doing this you get them in your sales funnel even if they don't choose to sign up after the deal right away.

5. Offer a special "daily deal membership." Remember daily deal customers are always looking for a deal. So why give them one (not the same one of course). Explain to them while you can