Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Running with Groupon Scissors

There I was, sitting next to the window and putting together some thoughts for a client proposal when, thanks to the magic of Tweetdeck, this came in from @kerrierio:

"U know what I love? Trying to book my @groupons & being told by the redeeming company that MY schedule is 2busy when they can't accommodate." 

This was all sorts of comically bad customer service.  Admittedly, I was not a proverbial fly on the telephone wall during that conversation and poor @kerrierieo was limited to 140 characters to vent.  Still, it was enough for me to comment this back to her:

"good grief.... bad service which shows they aren't doing good planning when they do these groupon deals!"

The e-ink had barely dried on this post and this post from last week and yet again, I'm presented with the frailty and the tragedy of the human condition: we love the bright shiny things but we don't fully think things through when we grab for them.  

We're in the rush for the business equivalent of lipo, boob jobs, facelifts, quick weight loss plans so that more people will like us and want to be like us.  Not only have we been running with social media scissors, we've been running with scissors.  Period.  We're needlessly throwing caution to the wind.

Just because a dress is on sale at Bloomingdale's doesn't mean you should buy it.  It might not be your size.  It might not flatter your natural coloring.  It may be too short.  Similarly, just because you can do a group discount offer, doesn't mean you should.  Just because the Gap Groupon offer went like gangbusters, doesn't mean the same will happen for you.  It might and I certainly wish for everyone's success but there's no guarantee that it will.

Even if you have the same level of volume, it also doesn't mean that you can afford the volume of Gap's Groupon.  And by afford, I mean not only the offer itself but also the operational changeup switcheroos you'll likely have to do to withstand the spike in demand.  It's an indirect cost of doing an offer which has to be calculated just like you've got to calculate the direct cost of the offer (fees to Groupon, half of the sales to Groupon and other terms of the deal).  

Remember this post from early August?  My point then was that group buying discounts that drive incremental foot traffic and, hopefully, repeat visits are like the Deal or No Deal game show.  We keep "opening the case" because we want to beat the bank.  But there comes a point in time where we "jump the shark" by opening too many cases resulting in losses and tweets from nice people like @kerrierieo.

And as I said then, the peer pressure we feel as business owners because our competitors are doing group discount offers is palpable.  We let panic take the place of process and we forget to understand our capacity, our inventory, how our current customers may be affected by the influx of new customers, how we introduce ourselves to new customers who've redeemed the offer, ways we try to retain the new customers who've redeemed the offer and so on.

Beating the bank in Deal or No Deal can be done just like beating the house in Las Vegas can be done.  People have done it before and people will do it in the future.  My point is that we should understand the risk reward ratio of the group discount, understand our tolerances, understand our limits and then craft the offer tied to for example: days of the week, hours of the day, staff members trying to build a book or what have you.

A cautionary note: these last couple of posts are by no means advocating an analysis/paralysis way of doing business.  Certainly, all business models are predicated on accepting some level of risk (competition, pricing, features, etc.) when one goes to market.  The material point here is that social media excitement notwithstanding, there is some benefit to letting cooler heads prevail and being surgical with how we market our products, services, businesses, etc.

What say you?  I'd love to hear your feedback!  And hang out with us on Facebook!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Running with Social Media Scissors

When we're little, we hear all sorts of warnings and advice about caution.  We're told to look both ways before we cross the street.  We hear that we don't dive in the shallow end of the pool.  We're taught the proper way to carry scissors and we're told to not run with scissors in our hands.  We'll trip if we don't tie our shoelaces.  The list is endless.

In my last post, I bemoaned the seeming lack of strategy and the sheer panic that many of us are feeling about not doing the right social media thing much like a 20 something reading Cosmo and hoping that if she cut her hair "just so" or got a boob job, the cute boy across the way will give her a wink and a smile.  It sometimes feels like we have to dive in the shallow end of the pool just to catch up.

It's not the first time that I've brought up the existential question of why we're on these platforms.  As I said last time, I love Mitch Joel's call for calm, call for us to take a deep breath, call for us to look around and try to understand where we are and how to navigate.  It's okay for us to assess the platforms and decide that there are some that just aren't relevant.  Mitch Joel was telling us to look both ways before we cross the Social Media street.

Really, it's okay to map out a strategy.  And yet we fail to do so.  Jim Matorin left a comment in that last post and shared this article.  I'll cull out some of the numbers from the Digital Marketing Expressions:
  • Of the 78% who said they were using social media, only 41% had a social media strategic plan.  
  • Of the 41% who do have a strategy, 94% said marketing was a part of the plan, 71% said public relations and 55% said sales.  
  • Of those with a plan, 29% had communication protocols (when, where, how, etc.). 
  • Only 69% of those with a social media plan have metrics or some sort of tracking set up and 71% plan for tracking brand reputation online.  
All of these numbers tell me that we're doing a lot of acting without a lot of thinking.  The pressure of being the hottest person in the room has made us forget ourselves and what makes us tick  It's made us forget how and why our products/services meet the needs of our customers better than that of our competitors.

I find all of this whirlwind of activity confusing.  We rush to be first, best, prettiest, etc., without a roadmap and without an end state in mind.  And, at the same time, we complain that we don't know what the ROI is of all of these Social Media activities.  There are a million whitepapers and webinars out there about ROI but few about strategy.  We can't have our proverbial cake and eat it too.  If you are jumping in without thinking and strategizing then you can't get upset that you don't know how to measure it effectively if at all.

The ROI problem is largely our own making because we feel we don't have the time to build the infrastructure.  We feel we'll be left behind.  This takes me back to this post I wrote 5 months ago.  Here's the quote I mentioned then:

"Maybe what's missing in our marketing transformation is the really boring and basic stuff. Maybe dull drives digital. Maybe fundamentals face us forward. Maybe boring is breakthrough.

I call this out for good reason. Social media and digital marketing will only succeed -- and sell through the organizational layers -- if we ground it in deeper, more established marketing truths, not ephemeral campaigns, one-trick pony moments, or hypocritical oaths or proclamations."

Creating strategy can be an arduous and dull process sometimes.  You don't have to tell me because that's preaching to the choir.  But, not having a strategy and rushing forth is running with scissors.  If we know to exercise that caution to protect ourselves in real life, why don't we have that level of care for our businesses?  Why do we throw caution to the wind?


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cosmopolitan and Social Media

I've made no bones of the fact that I'm on the steep end of the social media learning curve.  I'm absorbing as much as I can and have definitely made some boo boos along the way.  There's lingo, there's timing, there's tweeting...  Whew!

Part of this journey I'm on has led me to subscribe to a bunch of different newsletters: Mashable, Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, Smartbriefs galore, etc.  Here's a sample of some of the titles I've seen recently:
  • 26 Essential Social Media Resources You May Have Missed
  • 5 Tips For Telling Stories With Social Media
  • 13 Skills Social Media Leaders Can't Do Without
  • 5 Ways To Start And Sustain Social Conversations
  • Top 5 Most Indispensable Twitter Tools For Marketers
Truly, I try to read as many of these types of articles as I can because, like I said, I'm on a learning curve.  Thankfully though, some of this stuff is turning into review instead of new information.  But the peer pressure to know everything about everything to be the smartest at everything can be a little crazy making.  For a newbie and/or a perfectionist, there's not enough time in the day to read and absorb the information let alone follow through.

Frankly, it's taking me back to my 20s when Cosmopolitan articles would catch my attention, make me drop everything and pore through every single word because I had to read, absorb and follow every single thing as if my life depended upon it.  Need a sampling of some titles?  Here's what I found when I took a stroll to the Cosmo site:
  • 50 Things To Do With Your Boobs
  • 5 Bizarre Yet Brilliant New Workout Ideas
  • 9 Surprising Birth Control Facts
  • Top 10 Things He Doesn't Want To Hear About Your Ex
  • A Hot New Place To Meet Guys
Interesting parallels between seemingly different types of publications, no?  The point I'm trying to raise here is that it's easy to feel as if we'll never get things 100% right.  It's easy to believe that had we read that one article, we'd be more successful, more influential, smarter, better, faster, have more Twitter followers, have less quitters, have more Facebook page likers, etc.  The paranoia on the way to perfection can be mindblowing.

And, that's where it's easy to miss the point.  It's not what I could be doing to be more attractive to others as a thought leader, as a business, as a consultant, etc.  Those are tactics.  On our journey to keep up with the e-Joneses and be the hottest girl or guy in the room, we forget to look within and understand the core of our being, why we exist and our purpose.  Our purpose translates into strategy.  And strategy translates into tactics.  It's boring to be procedural but it must be done to satisfy our reason for being.  

I've made no secret here nor on the 678 Partners Facebook page that I am a huge fan of Mitch Joel.  A recent post has made that fandom even more intense if possible.  Here's a nugget that I really enjoyed:

"Before jumping into Social Media, ask yourself this one hard (and very serious) question: does my brand fit into the culture of these platforms?  It's a complex question.  It's a cultural thing and sometimes brands think that they do fit when in reality, they're just the old guy standing at the back of the club by the bar waiting for the concert to end so that they can take the kids (who are moshing up front) home.  They're not really invited.  They're not really welcome.  Everyone else there is just tolerating their existence like a necessary evil."

Why do I like this guy so much?  It's because he's calling for calm.  He's calling for us to take a deep breath, look around, assess, analyze and make decisions instead of going willy nilly into a bunch of social media directions.  We don't have to be on every platform.  We don't have to be the (t)wittiest on Twitter.  We don't all have to have whizbangery to make meaningful connections with colleagues and customers.  

We have to know ourselves.  Our core informs our strategy which in turn informs how we engage with others and in what platforms.  Or, in the immortal words of Shakespeare, "To thine ownself be true."


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When The Customer Isn't Right...


I hope all is well and that you're having a lovely week so far!  We've been fiddling with our Facebook page, our site, networking up a storm and generally pounding the pavement just like all of you.  While doing all of this, I took a LinkedIn break and stumbled upon a status message that went something like this (I've edited out some of the specifics):

"According to a survey, almost 80% of customers did not understand the mechanics of the product.  Perhaps they should have to take a test before purchasing the product so that they are not their own worst enemy."

In a fit of marketing and customer advocacy pique, I wrote something like this in response:

"and the instruments that allow them to purchase and use the product should provide more straightforward info...  everything is always a two way street. :)"

It turns out that, as usual, nothing is that simple or straightforward.  See, I thought for a bit and there is a nugget, really the main point, about that status message that is more of a "read between the lines" issue which I would like to bring to your attention.  Because the guy is right.

The main point is actually the negative ripple effect of the consumers' misunderstanding of the product.  It's great that consumers are self directed and don't want help but what good is self direction and independence if they are doing it wrong and become "their own worst enemy"?  And, how much have they hurt themselves and how much do they have to work to fix something as opposed to engaging in long term strategizing and building for the future?  How many good resources (money and time) get thrown after bad?  This is the crux of the status message, really.

All of this reminds me of that maxim of "The customer is always right."  But, in this case, not always and to great negative effect.  If you consider that it's possible that where these consumers purchase these products might be rife with information and educational tools, then it might just be that the customer chose to neglect or ignore the advice/information and hence the bad experience.  Many variables exist, to be sure, and the many cocktails you can make with them is mind boggling.

And here is where we have a bit of a problem.  I can't ever envision a situation in which one could successfully say, "Hey, look.  You're my customer but I'm telling you now, you have no idea what you're talking about.  So, let's let me drive for a while because I'm an expert...  or at least my fancy degree tells me so."

But there are times that, to do right by your customer, you have to say something or you have to intervene despite the maxim.  You are obligated to navigate or help them navigate around a scary enormous iceberg not only because it's the right thing to do but you would like to keep their business.  Because if you say nothing and let them hit the iceberg though they may be smart and self directed, you're still on the hook.  Ounce of prevention versus pound of cure.

How to do this?  Well, it's all about positioning, isn't it?  It's about respecting the customer and treating him/her as if they are the center of the customer universe.  In these types of sensitive situations, the focus should be on possible pain and the avoidance of possible pain.  It should be about how you can help your customer recognize the possible pain instantly and also the path he/she can take to avoid the pain.

As I said, the status message really was about the negative things that happen when customers aren't fully informed and how painful the outcome can be.  If one could write super long status messages and explain this further or worded more about the negative effects of misinformation or misunderstanding, then it would look like a cautionary tale and a piece of advice to seek better education or what have you.

So, how do we help customers recognize the pain when we see it in their futures?  We have to ask a series of questions: What interested you in this product? Have you used this product before? If you didn't have the product, would it impact your lifestyle? How many other people have you spoken to about this product?  What are some practical examples of how this product can be used to suit your needs?  And so on.

If any of the answers to the sometimes socratic questions show uncertainty, then the customer will soon realize that he/she actually is not right, perhaps more information and guidance is needed and they start asking you for your input.  It's at this critical permission point where you're allowed to help them self correct their navigation to go around the iceberg.

And, it's also at this point that, thanks to your socratic questioning, they start to look to you for more input and guidance going forward all the while thinking and believing they are steering the ship.  Hard to do but critical to maintain the relationship.


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


Friday, August 13, 2010

What Maki Teaches Me About Marketing

Thursday was a long, but good, day.  I woke up with the roosters as usual, read / wrote many emails, I had lunch with Geeta (hi!), left phone messages and met up with the awesome #FIJIHunt volunteer crew to talk about this weekend's scavenger hunt!

It was getting late so Amir, the Network Sommelier, convinced me to grab a bite at one of the two places we go for sushi...  well, technically maki.  It had been a while since we last visited and was close by so it was really a no brainer.  We sit, place our menus on the left, place the ordering sheet on our right and mull our options.

We didn't immediately notice that the ordering sheet had way more options for maki on it than the menu listed.  And, that the menu only had descriptions for its special maki and not for the entire list of maki.  It was Amir who noticed first.  He pointed out that there were maki on the ordering sheet not on the menu and that none had descriptions (e.g., what kind of Tuna, etc.).  I pointed out that there was space on the bottom to write in the numbers for the special maki in the menu and said,  "Well, I suppose the listed ones can be found in other places which is why there are no descriptions."  We shrugged and ate.

Later last night, it occurred to me that just like this Amazon.com post, I should have listened more closely to Amir's point!  Lucky for me, he doesn't gloat...  Let's go back to what he pointed out.  There were no descriptions of the rolls.  It looked something like this (and they had prices listed to the right of each entry):

Rainbow Maki
Shrimp Tempura Maki
Spicy Scallop Maki
Spicy Tuna Maki
Spicy Ebi-Q Maki

Many are sushi experts and know what's in all of of these rolls.  You and the restaurant understand each other very well and it's a beautiful relationship.  But what about the novices, first timers, willing to try and are curious?  How do they navigate?  Sure, they could and should ask, but there were over 30 listed on the sheet.  That's a lot of asking.  Let's try to imagine the uncertainty in ordering...  You don't want your first timers even potentially uncomfortable because you want them to come back.

And, as a marketer, as a business person, as someone who wants to build relationships and referrals, you don't want your prospective customers to be potentially uncomfortable either.  When we create business plans, marketing plans, strategies, you name it, we don't allocate a percentage to uncertainty and potential discomfort.  I'm grossly paraphrasing Sandler sales training, but you never want your customer or potential customer to be "not okay" because they will never come back.

You want customers to be okay.  And what I mean by that is they want to feel like they've made a smart choice, like they are getting value for the money, like they know they can rely on you to deliver a quality product.  Customers want peace of mind and they want to feel like you understand them (and/or their needs) which is why you created that product or service that meets their needs now and in future.  And, they want to know they can confidently come back for either more product or for answers to questions they might have.

Let's go back to that Amazon post for a moment...  If you remember, my point then was the feeling of disconnect I had with Amazon because their email didn't acknowledge my purchase.  Amazon is the shopping engine that makes recommendations for you while browsing and should also be the engine that knows your purchases so they don't recommend ones they consider better.  After that email, I felt stupid.  I thought I bought a bad milk frother.  I regretted the $10 I spent.

We aren't in the business of creating confusion, discomfort or regret.  We're in the business of creating value and, ultimately, relationships with our customers.  Consequently, how we engage with current and prospective customers should never include a chance of confusion and disengagement.

Your thoughts?


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Get Out and Be Social -- Scavenger Hunts and Marriage Proposals

"Get out of your nice comfortable office and meet with your potential customers. Use what you learn to create valuable stuff online." -- @dmscott

I can't exactly remember when David Meerman Scott tweeted that but it was definitely within the last week.  And, the reason why I held onto it is that I've come across so many good examples of this brought to life.  I'm convinced it's because that I'm to learn what social actually means.

Since January, I've been blogging, building a business and banding together to launch ProductCamp Chicago.  I've also immersed myself into a self fashioned social media education: what it means, how it can be a tool for good (and bad), its vocabulary, its etiquette, its ability to make connections that but for the channel(s) would never happen, etc.  I've met many people, had many wonderful opportunities but, ultimately, I'm learning that I still have so much to learn.  Daunting yet dazzling all at the same time.

One of the things I've come to believe is that while these social media channels are powerful, they mean nothing without a multisensory human experience accompanying them - either as the driver or the passenger.  We can't always be parked behind a laptop or an iPad...  At some point, we have to engage with others.  It may be solely due to new technologies but we have to engage with others.  It's why food trucks are all the rage now if you think about it...  They may tweet their location but we run with joy to get our favorite bite and sit outside to enjoy the weather -- both of which are intensely human experiences.

So, there are other intensely human experiences I've come across lately that I'd like to share with you...  And I think they underscore my point.  Even before that @dmscott tweet, I saw an interesting tweet from Chris Brogan directing me to FIJI Water Urban Hunt (here) and taking place on August 14. It's a scavenger hunt social media style.  Nope, it's not an online scavenger hunt where you steal someone's Farmville cow on Facebook.  It is real, honest to goodness scavenger hunt that scours all of Chicago but uses social media tools in the process.

How?  Teams race around town to find the required items.  As soon as they find each item, they have to check in on Foursquare, shout it from Twitter rooftops (#FIJIhunt) and upload video on YouTube to earn points from the judges.  Like any fun scavenger hunt, there is the "thrill of the chase" adrenalin high and competition.  The other fun thing is that because of the checkins, friends/family members can track progress, cheer friends on and maybe also clue them in on what the competition is doing.  

In other words, you can have an intensely human experience like a scavenger hunt enhanced by social media tools.  The nature of a scavenger hunt requires team playing, exchange of ideas, creativity, rapid fire thoughts...  hard to do online but most excellent in person.  The extra element of the social checkins allow this human experience to go out in concentric circles.  Yes, I know that this is about FIJI and the sponsors but it wouldn't be nearly as fun if this were executed behind a laptop at a WiFi cafe.  This only works because there is a swarm of people competing for bragging rights and some prizes.  

There's another intensely human experience that I just learned of this morning thanks to Mashable.  It has to do with a marriage proposal that, at its core was romantic and traditional but engineered with social media savvy.  He used Twitter, Foursquare and Qik (a video stream) to engineer the right location so he could rendezvous with his intended but also to let family know the proposal was taking place so that they could watch the live video... It's insanely charming (but a bit long).

If you made it through the bulk of it, you see the joy and surprise but you also see greetings to family that are watching via the video stream.  Imagine the rejoicing of the happy parents that they could witness the traditionally proposal on bended knee and the acceptance.  You can't propose over the internet...  It's got to be done in person... but you can share an intensely human experience with those you love using social media tools.

So, to me, @dmscott is right...  There is benefit in getting out and being social with people so that you can be more effectively social onine.  What's your take?


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

Friday, August 6, 2010

If Your OpenTable Ain't Broke...


Hope all is well with you and you're looking forward to an insanely good weekend...  I'm counting down the seconds to seeing R. (hi!) Saturday morning and hopefully seeing K. (hello!) who is moving back to Chicago with her family.

In my last post, I talked about businesses knowing limits in search of repeat customer heaven.  While we can't foresee every variable, it's good to have an understanding of what our core competencies are, who we serve, why they come back and how all of that translates to business strategy, sales, marketing...  everything, in other words.

As I said, if you know what you're good at and you make good money doing it, why would it be that you'd copy what your neighbors or competitors are doing?  Which brings me to OpenTable.  If you've not heard of it, it provides online reservations for diners and a guest management solution for restaurants.  They released their 2Q results released on Tuesday.  Here are some choice numbers:
  • Revenue increased by $22.5 Million, or 37%, over 2Q 2009.
  • Their installed restaurants grew by 27% and their Seated Diners grew by 52% over 2Q 2009.
OpenTable's growth was fueled by both North American as well as its International business.  In other words, in an industry which is particularly hard hit by this recession and amidst a debt crisis in Europe, this company did extremely well.  Some numbers, huh?

Before you shrug and move onto someone else's blog consider this: on the heels of that positive and impressive report, they launched OpenTable Spotlight (here) which is a half-off meal deal to New York and Boston diners (for now) assuming that enough of them buy the offer.  Hmm...  sounds familiar...  Why does that ring a bell...  Oh right...  Groupon!

[I mentioned Groupon in my last post with no notion I'd be mentioning them again today.  I'm just as surprised as you might be.]

Why would OpenTable do this?  We all can guess at the basic answer: it's that they want to kill Groupon out of the restaurant portion of its business.  It makes sense: no one should ever stick their heads in the sand and pretend or wish their competition didn't exist.  And Groupon is definitely competition which OpenTable would love to kill.

My question of "why" has nothing to do with the basic answer.  My question of "why" is really addressing what the core of the OpenTable product is versus the core of the Groupon product.  OpenTable is ostensibly about the diner but really about restaurant operations: reservation management, table management, guest management and marketing.

In other words, OpenTable is a tool to help restaurants build/maintain relationships with customers at different touchpoints: pre service, during service and after servce.  OpenTable is designed for longevity and positive customer experience.  Oh sure, it's a lead generation tool for a restaurant and a diner may visit once and never return for whatever reason.  That said, the backoffice engine is designed to be more than "Table for 2 at 8pm."

Let's contrast OpenTable with Groupon.  Groupon is a group buying initiative with coupon only activated after a minimum number of people agree to buy it.  It is a transactional, one and done engine just like Catalina marketing.  Companies interested in casting the net wide in the hunt for new faces can use Groupon as one of the tools to do so.  And that's all Groupon does: it helps to case the net wide (potentially).  I won't speak to how much cannibalizing may happen but the smart money says it happens!

As we learned in this article and my last post, Groupon does not help with operations.  And in fairness to them, that's not what they offer.  How a business manages the increase in volume due to Groupon offer (staff, hours, forecasting, etc.) is entirely up to them.  How business limits an offer should be based on what they know their resources to be and not on theoretical future repeat business.  And let's also remember that for many, Groupon is a risky bet because the offers aren't profitable in and of themselves in many cases.

So, let's go back to the "why" question.  OpenTable's function is to help with operations management and relationship management.  It's designed for good resource management and longevity.  And, based on those 2Q numbers, it's doing a good job of it.  OpenTable's strategic advantage and key differentiator is that it can withstand the likes of Groupon because of its inherent nature not in spite of it.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  This moves makes OpenTable look scared when they don't need to be.  They should keep enhancing what they're good at to differentiate further from Groupon instead of doing things like Groupon.  OpenTable just blinked first.

Thoughts?  Let me know!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Deal Or No Deal Groupon Dilemma

Well hello!  I hope all is well!  Have you visited our Facebook page?  There is more fun there than you can shake a stick at: great posts, great conversation and the occasional prize!

Speaking of prizes, have you ever watched Deal or No Deal?  It is luck at first but really about understanding risk.  Initially, the contestant picks a briefcase that has an unknown dollar amount inside and is set aside.  Onstage, models hold twenty plus cases all containing dollar amounts from $1 to $1 Million.  The contestant has to choose a series of cases for the model to open.  The amount revealed is "lost" to him/her.

After the first cases are opened, the show makes an offer to the contestant based on what's left to be opened and the contents of the contestant's selected case which he contestant can accept or reject.  And this is the shift from luck to strategy, understanding risk and reining in a bit of greed.  If the first opened cases are really high dollar amounts, the contestant might consider taking the offer because chances are decent that it will go downhill from there.  If not, the contestant should reject the offer.

Theoretically beautiful but humans sometimes let things other than strategy and risk stand in the way.  Here's a particularly bad example of not seeing things clearly (see below).  I couldn't find an official clip so this is the next best thing.

Ouch.  It would have been smart for him to take the $603,000 final offer and recognize that he was $603,000 richer than before.  When the show started, Howie Mandel, in an interview, said was most interesting was the level of risk (or greed) people accepted in spite of the realities of what cases were opened, what remained and the show's offer to the contestant.  He wasn't suggesting that we should all be math geniuses.  What he was suggesting was knowing our risks based on realities.

Which brings me to this article about the danger of businesses wanting too much!  See, this manicure place had good intentions: make an offer via Groupon to raise awareness, increase foot traffic and convert a portion into repeat business.  But, like Deal or No Deal contestants blinded by dollars, this business couldn't or wouldn't strategize as to the odds of a "run on the bank", as to capacity nor as to some limits to give them some practical operational relief but also provide good service to prospective customers.

In other words, it didn't have the skill or will to consider offer management on the path to marketing and business success.  Now, sure, I wasn't privy to the conversation between Groupon and the overwhelmed business so I can't and won't judge.  But, models like Groupon make a business owner want to have access to as many new customers as possible disregarding information from Groupon, the coupon customer's "fit" with the business, the current capacity to serve the coupon customers who might keep your lights on in future, the current capacity to service current repeat business who do keep your lights on now and the long term capacity to service the new (and old) repeat business.

Is the space large enough, do you have enough inventory, do you have the right staff levels, can your managers handle the new volume, etc.?  These are all good questions to ask.  A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.  This scary economy makes all of us want to do scary, risky things in the search for a relief inducing payoff.  We're all eager to keep the lights on.  We're all thinking about doing things in the short term with nary a thought to longer term consequences.  This isn't Las Vegas, it's business.  It's how mortgages are paid, kids are fed and retirements are funded.

In other words, we're all thinking about turning down the $603,000 offer to go for the $1 Million prize.  But should that eagerness make us lose sight of what our capacities are and what risks we can tolerate?  Never.  Because the alternative is much much worse as evidenced by the video above!

What's your take?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef