Seriously though, over the years people have suggested I run a Groupon deal to drum up business for the Barbie Dream Hearse. I don’t even need to hear the sales pitch to know that cutting a deal with Groupon or any other daily-deal site would be shooting myself in the foot.
For those of you living six feet under a rock, Groupon offers daily deals on local businesses delivered to your inbox. Customers buy coupons for a set dollar amount and then redeem the coupon for around twice the value in goods and services. After a short hey-day, this business model ran into a series of problems, followed by plummeting stock.
As a human being, I like Groupon. It’s a great way for consumers to try a new business at a low cost. As a business, I know I hate Groupon for that very reason.
Most people want to ride Barbie once. That’s okay with me; it’s about more than getting from point A to point B, and it’s not an everyday experience. For that, Seattle is littered with cabs, with most of the drivers having moved here yesterday from the other side of the world, but I’ll save that for another post.
If you’re trying to get somewhere cheaply, ride the bus. If you don’t mind giving specific directions and sometimes having to spell out the name of your destination (W-A-L-L-I-N-G-F-O-R-D—true story), take a regular cab. If you want to surprise someone or do something different for a special occasion, hire me.
I appreciate but don’t expect repeat business. I certainly don’t take it personally when clients don’t book me for a second time. They’ve usually told some friends, who hire me for another event, and the cycle continues.
Someone recently noted that the hardest part of my business is getting the word out. Indeed, self-promotion is a delicate dance between politely informing the community of your presence and bugging the living shit out of all your friends and relatives.
Yes, paid advertising is an option, but it’s hard to say how successful a print ad will be, and I think print ads are overpriced for the declining number of eyes they reach. (Businesses keep paying, so maybe it’s worth it for some of them.) However, I’ve found out through sweat equity with other projects and the mistakes of bigger companies that Facebook ads don’t work. So why not try a different form of online advertising?
My more experienced
Unlike other transportation services in the area, my business has always been and continues to be comprised of one person: me. There’s only one BDH and only one of me to drive it. It’s an art-car, a giant tchotchke, a unique way to make a good party great, and another great reminder of what a creativity-fueled city Seattle is.
I didn’t set out to make a fortune, but even if I had, Groupon would have been no help with that. Even businesses who wish to rely on repeat customers have been unsatisfied with the Groupon experience.
So yeah, I don’t want to give 75 percent of my already competitive price for every one-time rental of a luxury service that I provide mostly for fun. I guess I could have just said that, huh?