Operation Botanix - Mobile Coupons

May 23, 2010  —

Operation Botanix started of as a corollary to operation Asterix. Again the idea was quite simple.

Operation Botanix - Mobile Coupons

##Idea I remember in my childhood days, Pepsi used to come out with a full page newspaper advertisement with half a page of coupon. You were supposed to tear the coupon, take it to the shop and claim your free pepsi (7UP I think it was). Fast forward to today. I see an advertisement which promises me an inviting offer. But to claim the offer, instead of tearing the advertisement, I just have to send a SMS, say “EZEE 7UP” to a regular 10 digit mobile number (9243000111). And I get the coupon on my mobile phone as a SMS.

##Going deep down Is generating more footfall the only reason why advertisers come up with discount coupons? One of the reason I hypothesized was through these advertisements, advertisers were essentially doing a market survey. Which publication generates more footfall? (Is Times of India more effective than Deccan Herald), Which are the localities having the highest demand for my product? (and hence focus more on that locality) etc.. This kind of analysis may happen once the offer period is complete and sales agents collect the coupons from individual shops.

##Business proposition The business proposition with this solution would be to approach advertisers and tell them that we can run a complete mobile based coupon delivery and analysis of usage pattern across various parameters. You can even do a proper market research by calling in those people who downloaded the coupon, thanking them for using the coupon and asking them couple of questions from your questionnaire. The usual revenue proportional to number of coupons downloaded is quite obvious.

##So did it work? Instead of approaching the advertisers, we first approached the newspapers. I think that was our first mistake. One newspaper did get interested. They proposed that they will run a mobile coupon corner in their paper and local retailers can get their coupons printed there. But we had to do selling of the advertisement space. We did not receive a good response from both the retailers as well as consumers. Within 6 weeks of running, we could not get even a single retailer to advertise.

It is difficult to judge the validity of the idea on only one run. More so, when the reason for failure are multiples. Circulation/effectiveness of the said newspaper was not good (It was a free newspaper and hardly anyone read it). We were new to advertisement and did not have the stomach to continue further. Offers that were signed up were also not too attractive for people to actually SMS and claim them.

##Going Forward There are two ways going forward. Start a online portal distributing these mobile coupons or build a good analytical backend and sell the service to advertisers directly. The internet space is far too cluttered with companies offering discounts. Group discounts is the latest fad and I don’t really see any one of them providing a key differentiators or stickiness factor that is required for survival in Internet space. So the first option is pretty much ruled out. The second options remains, but would need to talk to various advertisers and first understand what they need from advertisement analytics, and then propose how a mobile coupon can help them in that regard.

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