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Forgive me, but I'm just passing through.

A few years back I made the decision to try an online marketplace [we'll call it, Company X] to generate new business. The idea is to offer, in my case, a salon service for half of the original cost. The purveyor of these daily deals will then market the deal to a vast audience, which are members of said marketplace. Their payment is ½ of what they sell the deal for. Fair enough.

My first campaign was an utter disaster! I was a newbie with those social networking marketplace programs and believing they would maybe tag 50 possible purchasers interested in my Mani/Pedi/Massage deal I was ill prepared to accommodate 450! Yes, 450 online marketplace buyers bought my little salon offer and I had no way of managing the influx.

We managed to get through that campaign, which lasted more than a year before the final expiration date, but not without a bruised reputation and somewhat defeated attitude. I vowed never again to use such a promotional vehicle to generate customers and give exposure to my salon. I spoke with representatives from Company X, who was also a new company, and expressed my sentiments and voiced my challenges that would help the merchant better execute a campaign more successfully. I believe the negative experience I had was the platform for changes that occurred for future merchants including myself.

Without going into the gory details my campaign with Company X did very little to stimulate "new" business. Without doing the math and guesstimating the numbers, less than 1% ever returned or intended on returning to become a "regular" salon client. The ugly truth is members of a social marketplace are in it for the cheap deal. And they do not want to spend any more on that deal than necessary. Their expectations were unreasonable and they wanted more than what our deal actually offered. They often called wanting to make an appointment for that very day [we can't even do that for our regular clients] or called after the expiration date still wanting the discounted price [cost of the deal would never expire and be subtracted from the actual cost of the service]. We were severely, and I believe without justification, critiqued on our job performance leaving my staff disillusioned and the salon moral went down the tubes.

I learned a lot from that Company X experience and the salon survived, but not without some scars. Even the mention of "Company X" generated sour attitudes amongst the staff. But I was determined to try this unique branding vehicle one more time and show my associates that managed differently and executed in a manner conducive to the salon format, we could make this work. So one year after our first campaign I launched a campaigned that only involved myself. I took the appointments, I performed the service, and I collected the revenue. And it worked beautifully. I worked some long, hard days, but I managed to generate some extra income other than hair services and perfect my new massage, manicure, and pedicure skills. But the one thing it did not do is generate "new" business. Again, it's the deal and 9 out of 10 Company X members will never return unless there is another Company X deal to buy.

In conclusion, I must say that the one thing running a social network market campaign accomplishes is teaching customer service. We were dealt the good, the bad, and the ugly when it came to dealing with customers and their attitudes and the challenges of perfecting a service. Don't get me wrong, we had more good experiences than we did bad, but when we had a bad one it was a doozy! It taught my staff as well as myself the skills necessary to handle an unreasonable or difficult client, which is crucial in any business. And unfortunately, the objective behind the program fell short when building "new" clients for most of them were just passing through and never had any intentions on returning even if it was the best experience they ever had. So I'm not saying I've given up because for those who know me know I'm not a quitter, but it's time to take a break again.

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