by David Zax.
By now you’re familiar with Groupon deals. You get a wacky, manically written email each day offering you $30 of tapas for $15 or half off a full Brazilian. Dollars saved here and there; small-time stuff for the average consumer. But what if you got an offer for a $25,000 product for $12,500?
That’s exactly what happened last week. Rather than a local barbershop or cafe offering a deal to neighborhood customers, an IT tech consulting firm, Ajilitee, offered $25,000 worth of consulting services for $12,500.
No amount of lively copy-writing from low-paid freelancers (how Groupon fuels its daily deals copy) could make this IT deal seem sexy. Ajilitee offers either a “BI Best Practices Audit” (“choose among Data Architecture, Process Architecture, or BI Architecture”) or a “Cloud Opportunity Map” (“a five-day workshop that brings together key stakeholders to assess opportunities, potential benefits, and strategies for cloud computing adoption.”) But that, in a way, is the point. This isn’t a business-to-consumer offer; it’s a business-to-business offer, and a bold new experiment in whether Groupon’s social buying model works in the B2B world. If you understand what the offer even means, then maybe it’s for you: You can save $12,500 up until March 21, when the offer closes. Most Groupons just run for a day, but a several-week period is “still a relatively short timeframe for IT purchase decisions,” Ajilitee’s Michelle Smyth tells Fast Company. Only 10 such Groupons are available; no buys yet, says Smyth.
Even so, she adds, “Even without a single ‘buy’ via Groupon, we would feel successful if one or more organizations called to vet our offerings.” Though Ajilitee hasn’t gotten any phone calls yet from potential buyers, the company’s Diann Bilderback tells Fast Company: “We have seen an awful lot of interest from the media, which is asking the same question we are: whether these kinds of channels can be adapted to a B2B buying cycle. We’ve all seen how things begin in a consumer model, then migrate to a small business model, then eventually reach the enterprise level. We were just testing to see if we could accelerate that process.”
Groupon didn’t send out the Ajilitee offer via email. Rather, Ajilitee used Groupon Stores, a relatively new feature of the Groupon website where businesses can run deals whenever they want, online, via Groupon, without having to wait for an email to go out on their behalf (or, presumably, undergo some sort of vetting by Groupon). Groupon Stores deals only run for a week, which is why the offer is no longer available through Groupon (though is still valid directly through Ajilitee’s site; Groupon simply won’t get a cut if buyers still go for it). Groupon has become such a big name that simply having a deal affiliated in some way with the site is a potential way to earn attention for your brand. Whether that actually translates into money for either Groupon or businesses yet remains to be seen.