The deal-a-day model thrives on the power of its e-mail list, sales channels, promotion, clever copywriting and vendor selection. Newspapers and TV stations should be especially well positioned to leverage these strengths, right? Many, in fact, are diving in to deal a day via partner relationships with Groupon and LivingSocial, or vendor relationships with the likes of Deal Current, Analog Analytics, Shoutback, Matchbin, Nimble Commerce and Offer Foundry.
Going it alone, however, is Gannett’s Republic Media, the holding company of The Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com and 28 other media and vertical sites. Republic’s Deal Chicken has been operating since Sept. 1, and already has 30,000 e-mails and 2,268 “likes” on Facebook. It ought to be able to double its e-mail count by the end of the year, says VP of Digital Media Mike Coleman.
The Deal Chicken motif brings with it lots of branding possibilities for social media and daily e-mails (and has been cleverly executed). “The Deal Chicken Knows No End” is the tagline. Some of the Facebook posts say things like “The Deal Chicken especially likes Prix Fixe Meals.”
All the writing is done on a freelance basis by contractors, rather than by more expensive newspaper staff. Unlike some of the other deal-a-day sites, the writers also personally interview merchants and provide feedback when deals are completed. They also receive a cut of the revenues.
“The brand is light and fun on purpose,” adds Coleman. “And we thought it was extremely important to come up with a very memorable brand, especially in light of the many, many similar sites competing for consumer attention. We don’t think ‘PhoenixDeals.com’ would cut through the clutter.”
Coleman said the company looked at its deal-a-day options, and thought it had plenty of internal resources and didn’t need to give away 5 percent to 10 percent of its earnings to a vendor. It also didn’t need to form a partnership with a major deal-a-day site. In the end, vendors and/or partners will inevitably squeeze tighter, he says.
As a standalone site, Deal Chicken can also establish its own pricing, which has been ambitiously set at 50 percent of the deal price, minus 2.25 percent for processing. That’s definitely at the high end of the deal-a-day range, which is typically 30 percent to 50 percent. But still, it is a relative bargain compared with other local media offerings. Rapid payment is also promised: 30 percent within five days, and the remaining 70 percent within 30 days.
Ultimately, Republic’s independent position is a brave one. Other newspaper companies have settled on partners to ensure that deal a day didn’t get in the lost in the shuffle of day-to-day operations, or sometimes, in acknowledgment that leading deal-a-day companies have successfully established a local beachhead.
But Coleman says that when you get past the credit card processing, daily deals are actually among the simplest of the 30 products the company produces. Republic is also ideally poised to push every button it has to make deal a day a success, he notes.
In addition to newspaper and Web site promotion, Deal Chicken is being promoted for five to 10 seconds on the noon news show of KPNX-TV, the local Gannett NBC affiliate. The needle moves a lot after every on-air mention, he says.