We all know the internet brings like-minded people together. That's the theory behind newsgroups, chat rooms, forums and niche social networks like my own BroadwaySpace.com. (Before I ever met him in person, I e-met Jeff Marx, composer of Avenue Q, on the old rec.arts.theatre bulletin board)
And now, websites are popping up all over with the goal of taking those like-minded people and monetizing them, and making the individuals happy about it in the process.
How are they doing it?
By collecting these many like-minded individuals in one place, the websites create group-like leverage and therefore increased buying power with products and brands that these individuals enjoy.
Here are a few examples of these types of sites:
Do you play board games in Minneapolis? Are you an athesist in Detroit? Do you love theater in New York City?
Answer yes to any of these questions and there is a MeetUp for you. And if there isn't one for you, then you can create your own and like a magnet attract folks to you.
By nature these Meetups encourage an activity (without pressuring because it's all online invites), and then a social interaction around that activity.
In other words . . . people do stuff, and then they talk about it. Uhhh, isn't that the goal of marketing a product?
(BTW, you should join the Theater meetup. You'll see that it's sponsored by BroadwaySpace, because, well, because I'm no dummy - these are where the theater lovers are!)
This is where it gets fancy.
Gilt is about luxury brands. We're talking Marc Jacobs, John Varvatos, and lots of other Italian names that I know I'll spell wrong so I won't even try.
News flash . . . luxury brands have overstock too. So the brands give the overstock to Gilt, and Gilt adds a little scarcity by announcing the sale for a very limited time each day, and bingo, sales up the wazoo to its millions of members.
Oh, and did I tell you that you can't just sign up for Gilt? You have to be invited. Yep, it's the ol' Gmail trick. And they niche it down to different sites for men and women.
Here's an invite from me, if you want to check it out.
And by the way, check out their sister site while you're there, called jetsetter.com. Jetsetter sells luxury travel.
Theater tickets will be next.
Groupon's tagline says it all . . . "Collective buying power."
They convince all sorts of vendors, from manicurists to speed reading instructors, to give them crazy deals, with the promise that they only have to come through on the deal if they deliver the minimum number of buyers.
I sell cupcakes. I will sell them to Groupon for 75 cents each but only if Groupon sells 1000 of them.
If you've never experienced a Groupon, the process is actually fun. When the Groupon minimum is reached, it's like you've won something . . . even though it means you're spending money.
That's what we call a B to C win-win.
Check it out here.
And lastly, introducing Groupget, which is basically Groupon for theater tickets.
Groupget is still early in its rollout, but it's using the same theory as the above sites. We know the theory works, so you can bet your Groupget I'll be watching to see if the movers-and-groupers behind it can get it to work in practice.
We're going to see more of these as the individual's power to influence is increased by the internet, and by products like the new and exclusive Google Wave, which allows real-time communication and collaboration between multiple participants.
Think about it . . . if you've got a lot of friends on facebook, you're a mini-collective of your own, which means everyone that we speak to is a potential group sale.
The web is naturally becoming millions of mini-webs inside itself, which makes it easier for you to catch customers.