Brilliant Sales Copywriting – The Groupon way

Shiny Happy People Selling Stuff

Shiny Happy People Selling Stuff

Great sales copywriting has driven worldwide success for Groupon

You’re by now probably aware of Groupon. No? It’s a group-buying website out of Chicago since 2008. Now running in nearly 40 UK towns and cities the company advertises limited deals on behalf on various businesses. Different offers each day covering things such as meal deals, visit to local attractions such as zoos or theme parks, tennis coaching and other personal instruction, massages, spa breaks, hotel visits, cinema tickets, sunglasses etc.

The popularity of group buying and voucher based marketing has gone through the roof over the last year or so. 35 million users in more than 300 local markets (Manchester copywriters prepared to work for very little take note) says one thing and one thing only – ‘kerching’ . Groupon is storming it. With Businessweek reporting that the company is in line to make as much as $500 million this year there’s little surprise that Google in their pursuit of ‘local’ have recently put in a $6 billion bid for the company. An offer rejected by Groupon’s owners. It’s not just Google who are smitten by deep discounts and daily deals. Earlier this month Amazon invested $175 million in

In short – Internet voucher sites are the hot ticket. Groupon the hottest.

How come?

What has turned Groupon from Charles Hawtrey into Georges St Pierre in the blink of a barmaid? Ninja business skills? Tendulkar like timing? An ancient Mesopotamian blessing? Pleeeease somebody stop me…

The art of the copywriter

The answer … as both of you reading this copywriting blog have probably guessed… is… copywriting (did my ‘art of the copywriter’ header give it away?). Whether you are HBO, 23, slightly ‘wacky’ and love their style guide, or not, you have to give Groupon credit for their efforts in delivering a consistent voice. For taking a step back and applying their own techniques and copy editing style guide . And much of what they have to say is refreshingly… fresh. Take this example from their Narrative Point of View section in the Voice Guide.

Minimize the use of the 2nd person. Sometimes using the 2nd person is easily avoidable, and sometimes it’s highly useful (ex: the deal sentence). If you write a sentence in the 2nd person, and then discover that you could just as easily remove the “you’s” and “your’s” without using the passive voice and it still reads naturally, do that. When you do use the 2nd person, make sure to spread it out. Consecutive sentences specifically addressing the reader generally feel grating.

The 2nd person is often very useful for clearly describing what the customer’s experience will be like, especially for complicated deals. (EX: After your studio portraits are developed, you’ll have the option to mix and match your different poses and choose between 6 different print options.). It’s when the 2nd person is used in a more creative context and with a voice that assumes too much familiarity with the reader that it can sound like traditional marketing copy.

Don’t assume familiarity with the reader. Example of Groupon Voice violation from a golf deal:
Go ahead. Be a Tiger. —  Even if this were funnier than it is, you haven’t earned that level of intimacy with the reader, and they’re likely to not respond to it. You are not the reader’s pal.


The Traditional Marketing Clichés and Crutches To Avoid advice is oozing (oops…”Even saying “ooze” will set people off”) with plenty more advice. As a copywriter the whole of the Editorial Manual is well worth a right royal nose through.

If you have already experienced Groupon you will likely know that over exposure will soon leave your wit a bit of a gooey mess. As sick as an Australian cricket fan. The law of diminishing marginal utility crushing Groupon’s ‘humour’ under the weight of its own ‘humour’. Like watching 9 episodes of Family Guy back to back. If you haven’t been through the wardrobe yet check it out – it’s well worth a quick visit – especially if you are keen on heavily discounted massages or turkish delight.

Image borrowed from

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Brilliant Sales Copywriting – The Groupon way

3 Responses

  1. Why Groupon Works

    Interesting NYT piece and comments today.

    Martin December 15, 2010 at 10:16 am #
  2. Groupon seeking $950m share issue

    US discount website Groupon, which snubbed $6bn Google offer, reported to be planning share issue and possible IPO

    Guardian Article here –

    Martin December 30, 2010 at 9:38 am #
  3. The fastest growing company EVER !

    Good Lord.

    Hello Percy 🙂

    Martin January 11, 2011 at 9:07 am #

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