Because I know something about marketing, my friend Viv asked me what I thought about Groupon for her business. She’s a massage therapist and always seeking ways to build her clientele. I responded using the same target marketing perspective I use with all job seekers – find what works best for you and your particular skills, preferences, needs.

I’m not so sure about Groupon for a small service business. People who sell in a retail location and more than one item can do really well with Groupon because the low-cost item is a loss leader that brings people into their physical or virtual space and makes them aware of what is available there. So one half-price item isn’t going to make or break their revenue stream. And it’s one item for a limited amount of time.

Also, for things like performance spaces or tours, it’s a way to generate quick cash on volume. If you fill the house, you are doing better than if you have a 1/4 or 1/3 filled space at full price. And since you change performers/performances or tour topics, you take the risk because you could get repeat customers.

For a service business like yours, I don’t necessarily see as many advantages to Groupon. Once someone gets a massage at half-price, they may or may not come back. They may want to wait for the next Groupon. They may think you should reduce your price permanently. And you are not a volume business – you do these one at a time.

Of course, filling your schedule with Groupon customers may generate quick cash, which you may need so I can definitely see that particular advantage to it. However, I think it would have to be a “special, once-in-a-lifetime offer, never to be repeated” to attract people who might then see how beneficial your work is for them.

I’d rather see you focus on a marketing campaign that emphasizes your differentiator, your core value proposition, why your massage work is distinct, what benefits people will get when they see you regularly. Use testimonials from clients, an interview with local papers, perhaps being a guest on the radio talking about the dangers of stress and inflammation and how to ease it – showing your expertise and your value to the community.

If you do decide on a Groupon campaign, those things should also be emphasized, to say this is a unique chance to get high-quality bodywork done. You can target people who are in high-stress positions, who work hard and play hard, who have many family responsibilities and rarely take time for themselves – that this is a way for them to take care of themselves, recharge themselves to engage fully in their lives, like a mini-vacation. I’d even say “I’m doing Groupon because I want more people to benefit from my work, and I’m so convinced you’ll love what I do for you, you’ll become a client.”

I’m now waiting to hear what she decides to do! And remember, job seekers, to showcase YOUR differentiator, your core value proposition, what makes you able to solve the employer’s problem.