Your Medical Spa + Groupon

Does it make sense to promote your medical spa with Groupon?

Groupon is a “daily coupon” website. It’s basically an email list that charges advertisers to send out their “coupons” called Groupons.

Many small businesses I’d likely never hear about otherwise send me their coupons this way. I receive them mainly to see what’s up… because the city I receive them from is 2 hours away, I don’t expect to take advantage of them.

I've noticed that for the most part, these are not large mainstream businesses. They are small businesses – spas, bakeries, etc. that likely don’t have large advertising budgets and think that Groupon is a great way to drive traffic without spending marketing dollars.

At Groupon, they have an email list of over ten million people and if you contact Groupon to be included on their “deal-of-the-day”, you can get the word out about your medical spa to thousands of people you would otherwise never be able to reach.

There are usually huge discounts involved (50% or more) to incentivize buyers and the general idea is that by offering a big discount on your products or services, people will try out your offerings and keep coming back for more. On the surface, it sounds like a great way to market your business and I was really excited about the idea until I thought about it some more and did some analysis. While Groupon might work for a small subset of local businesses, here’s why I don’t think Groupon is a good fit for the majority of medical spas out there.

Using Groupon will cost your medical spa an arm and a Leg... and another arm.

You might have read some Groupon horror stories already, but the reality is that Groupon is extremely expensive for a business. If you look at their faq, they give off the impression that running a Groupon campaign is free. They collect the money online from prospective customers, send you a check and mail out the coupons automatically.

What is not explicitly spelled out is that they take 50% of your revenue as a fee for using their service. So given that most Groupon campaigns offer the end customer around 50% off, let’s run some numbers here. Say your product retails for $100. By giving a 50% discount to customers, you will only make $50. After Groupon’s 50% cut, you only get $25 for something you normally would charge $100 for. Depending on what your markup is, it better be more than 400% otherwise you could potentially lose money on every transaction!

What’s attractive about Groupon is that they run the campaign for you and simply send you a check. It’s not until later when you have to fulfill orders with these ridiculous discounts do you realize how much money you are potentially losing out on. Most medical spas that are using Groupon—and there are many of them—tend to try to limit their 'deals' to services like laser hair removal and IPL treatments rather than Botox or cosmetic surgery to limit their exposure to services with high fixed costs. But whatever you're offering, it's questionable that taking a huge loss on hundreds of services will prove beneficial to your clinic's bottom line in the long term.

While I'm not absolutley against using Groupon in any way, there are some issus that you want to be aware of around how using Groupon will actually hurt your medical spa or cosmetic clinic.

Groupons don’t make your medical spa memorable.

I’ve got some experience using Groupon a few times as a consumer and you know what? Every time I've purchased through Groupon, what stands out in my mind after my purchase was not the business itself but how great of a deal I got on the product or service. In fact, I remember talking to friends about what a killer deal I got through Groupon. Not once did I mention any details about the business that I was actually purchasing from. I was too excited about the bargain itself.

Using a Groupon takes the spotlight away from your business. After all, it was Groupon that provided your customer with the coupon and the unbeatable deal. It was Groupon that made your customers’ purchase exciting and fun. As a result, customers are far more likely to brag about Groupon and not your clinic.

Groupon deteriorates the perceived value of your medical spa.

Whenever a store offers an incredible deal or discount, there is this perception that the markup was already ridiculously high. If company X can offer a 50% discount and still make a good profit, then they must be jacking up their prices. Once a customer receives a large discount, it trains them to wait for later coupons and deteriorates the value of your products and services. This is especially true with medical spas since Groupon is saturated with them.

There is this dining card I sign up for almost every year called “The Passport” card which entitles the card holder to a free entree at select restaurants when another entree is purchased. The card lasts exactly one year until it expires and you have to pay to reactivate it. One year, we decided to let the card expire and you know what? We refused to dine at “Passport” sponsored restaurants during this period because it didn’t seem worth it without the card. We were so used to getting a free entree that we didn’t want to pay full price again.

While this principle applies to coupons in general, the price erosion caused by a Groupon are infinitely worse because the discounts are so steep.

You can bet that the majority of the new clients you attract through Groupon will be visiting your competition next month. You've just invited all of these new users to price shop you.

Groupon hurts your loyal clients.

Don’t you hate it when you are a loyal customer of a product or service only to find out that the company started issuing huge discounts for new customers only? This happens all the time with cell phone carriers and it really pisses me off. Using Groupon has a similar effect on your regulars and your loyal customer base.

By taking a loss using Groupon to obtain new clients and patients, you are essentially forcing your loyal clients to make up for your losses. And this is counter-intuitive to the way you should be doing business. Your regulars should be the one rewarded with discounts and perks.

There are 2 possible outcomes when a regular customer sees one of your Groupons and both are bad. In one case, your loyal customer could get pissed off and consider shopping with a competitor. But more likely, your regular customer could buy a S@$% load of Groupons and only pay a fraction of the price for what they normally would spend at your store. In effect, you would be losing out on future business with this customer because you would be taking a loss or breaking even on what could have been a 4X profit!

I've had experience with this first hand through another service. Some of our most loyal—and profitable—clients found out about some discounts and switched to them. All we could do was smile since there was no way that we wanted to make waves with our existing clients. We just quietly folded our program and smartened up.


Outside of the issues I’ve already covered, the main problem with Groupon is that the longer term effects are extremely hard to measure. It might be possible to measure repeat business somewhat but it’s almost impossible to measure the word of mouth effect.

To sum it up, I think of Groupon as a shortcut with major consequences. The attraction is that you’ll get a lot of customers upfront, but once everything is said and done, you’ve lost a lot of money and the long term benefits are questionable.

My general philosophy in business is to focus on the long term. Instead of trying to get a one time flood of customers, why not put forth your efforts on making your business stand out? Be the store that everyone wants to shop at because you are awesome and not because of a coupon. Be the medical spa that offers the best customer service. Be the clinic that gives customers the best experience. Giving a one time discount isn’t going to win over any followers and you risk damaging your medical spas real business.

DIY Botox Injections

The do-it-yourself DIY Botox movement must be stronger than I though.

Evidently there are a large number of women who aren't put off by the though of injecting themselves with a paralytic. I guess these women are not needle-phobic either.

According to a web based poll, an English beauty site found that more than one in five women would conduct DIY Botox but only 11% would dare to cut their own hair.

Taking at-home do-it-yourself cosmetic medical treatments to a scary level, according to the poll of 1,356 UK women by,  22% would consider injecting their own face or forehead with a do it yourself Botox kit.

53% said that the decision to have Botox could be influenced by word of mouth.

78% of women would rather have liposuction surgery to lose weight than diet and exercise.

34% of women want liposuction but not sure if they want laser liposuction.

Discount Medspa Do-it-yourself-Botox website shut down.

When we first discovered the videos promoting do-it-yourself Botox and filler injections being promoted on Youtube, I posted this article on Fake Botox or not, Discount Medspa is going to jail. Since then the websites have been shut down and the womant in the video's been charged with illegally offering prescription drugs without a license.

Via the Examiner

Even before a December 2009 ABC 20/20 report on self-injectable facial drugs including Botox, Restylin and Dysport, the company Discount Medspa had been shut down for selling these types of products to consumers without prescriptions for them.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged Laurie D’Alleva of Tarrant County, TX of illegally offering prescription drugs without a license on November 24, 2009 and gained a temporary restraining order barring her company from continuing to sell the drugs online. She is also charged with fraudulently claiming membership in Texas Medical Council, which doesn't even exist, and using this claim as a basis to say she can legitimately sell these products online.

The real surprise is not that this was shut down, it was the number of coments (98) from individuals proporting to be Discount Medspa patients who were defending the site and Ms D'Alleva. Shocking in some cases. Here are some of the comments.

"If smoking dope is okay with the moron than leave our botox self injection alone, no one is having a problem with it except the money grubbing doctors and pharmacys that sell the stuff. Bug off!"

"Funny we can inject ourselves with insulin and yet because of the greed of physicians, someone like Laurie is put out of business because why? She put the choices into the hands of the people."

"The FDA does not regulate how doctors use it. They go through a 3 hours class to inject it. What is the best way to learn?(DO IT YOURSELF)"

"I did purchase from Discount MedSpa and injected myself with Freeze (crows feet and forehead). I am extremely happy with the results. I will definatley do it again. I also have a college education and run my own business, so don't call me stupid."

"I have used the Freeze product from Discount Medspa with great results. The over priced Doc I received injections from did not do any better job than I did myself. It took 10 minutes and study on facial muscles. If the product is pure I see no problem with being able to inject at home."

"If I want to Freeze my face then let me and stay out of my business. It's not like I am harming anyone else. It's not like I am unfamiliar of the risks. It's not like I am jumping off a bridge and acting irritational, it's Cosmetic!"

"all these other money hungry Doctors thinks $320 every 4 to 6 months is reasonable thats crazy!!! I was purchasing 100 units of Freeze for $149.00 and was doing it myself do you think I am going to spend $320.00 for 40 units and have someone else do it,"

"Once I did the injections I realized how much of the "you will hurt yourself" is hype. This is the mantra that will brainwash us into being dependent and financially strapped to our medical treatments,"

"Yes, it is crazy...I have done it myself, I had great results with the fillers but always wondered what was really in them, what was I injecting into my face?"

You can read the entire thread here.

Do it yourself Botox, Restylane, & Juvederm Disasters.

So while there are still a number of people posting on how much the love Laurie D'Alleva and her videos touting the benefits of do it yourself Botox, there are a growing number of people who still have a non-paralyzed thought or two that are coming forward to talk about the problems you might have pumping fillers into your face. Perhaps the do it yourself Botox crew are also attracted to Trepanation.

Here's a story from ABC News: Watch the video on "20/20"here.

Some consumers are ordering prescription-only cosmetic products online and injecting themselves at home. One woman who self-injected her face with filler said it caused bags and lumps under her eyes, and a hard, infected pustule on her cheek.

For millions of Americans, the solution to crow's feet, thin lips, and frown lines is at the end of a syringe, or in a bottle. A quick trip to a medical spa, dermatologist or plastic surgeon for a Botox injection, lip augmentation or chemical peel offers the promise of a youthful look.

But these cosmetic procedures -- and the medical expertise that comes with them -- don't come cheap. For a single treatment of Botox, doctors charge about $380; for lip-plumping injections, over $500; and for a chemical peel, a whopping $700.

These high prices are enough for some consumers to take their business away from medical professionals, and go instead to the Web. They are "doing it themselves," ordering prescription-only products online, and injecting themselves at home.

Laurie D'Alleva, of Mansfield, Texas, is a big fan of "DIY" beauty injections and treatments. She is the face of a, a website stocked with what she claims are pharmaceutical-grade cosmetics, similar to Botox, Restylane, and Retin-A. 

Self-injecting botulinum toxin might sound dangerous, but D'Alleva, 39, tries to put her customers at ease with informational videos, complete with tips and pointers on how, and where, to inject. "It doesn't hurt... It's easy," D'Alleva claims in one video, as she stands in front of a mirror and injects her face repeatedly.

Disaster isn't what "Alex," a paramedic, had in mind when she visited a few months ago. In her 40s and dating, she just wanted to improve her look, and save some money. She asked ABC News not to disclose her identity.

After viewing "every one" of the instructional self-injection videos on D'Alleva's site, Alex was convinced she could do it herself, since using needles was part of her job.

"Why should I pay somebody else that got a few hours of training to do something I think I can do pretty easily?" she said she thought at the time.

Alex paid $450 for a products including an injectable facial filler. She says she injected the products under her eyes and alongside her mouth.

But "the next morning, I woke up horrified by what I saw," she said. "Literally, my heart started pounding, and I thought, 'What have I done, what am I going to do?'"

Do it yourself Botox: Are these people for real?

Wow. For whatever reason there's a lot of traffic on the do it yourself Botox thread: Fake Botox or not, Discount Medspa is going to jail.

Evidently there are a lot of Botox self injectors flocking to this site to comment on the story of the woman who was selling some form of Botox replacement online, and then publishing videos about how to inject yourself.

Certainly illegal, the site, Discount Medspa has been shut down. My guess is that there are a host of legal troubles ahead for the owner.

You'd think that people would be a little smarter than to inject themselves with Botox or anlything else they just bought online, but I can't tell what's going on with comments like this:

Excuse me Mr.RealMD you are getting the same stuff we are in a bottle that is sealed in a pure form un constituted. Could you PLEASE tell me how do you really honestly know what you’re injecting into your patient besides reading the Botox label across the bottle? You didn't package the bottles you received! and I am more than sure you didn’t have anything to do with the making of the batches of Botox either. All you did was received your order, took it out the boxes and stored it in your freezer upon delivery of your shipment and used it when it was time to inject your patients.

The injection part of receiving Botox IS very important and for you to have the nerve to say I quote “You guys don't really understand the issues involved with the actual preparation of the toxin before it is placed in the bottle. You are focusing on injection technique and the fact that you want to save some money and you think doctors make money off of you. You don't really understand that if this preparation is not authentic Botox or authentic Dysport you are risking your lives. “

Matter of fact Mr. RealMD we are!!! Focusing on the injection technique do you think were crazy do you know if you don’t focus on the injection technique that we could really damage ourselves and probably end up looking like some paralyzed freaks walking around, and you ARE risking your life if you dont know how to properly inject the Botox also so please dont play down that aspect of the procedure.. And I don’t understands you when you say authentic how do YOU know your trusting source is authentic I get the same effect as when you give it to me, so how do you know if the effects are the same the wrinkles are gone and the face muscle are numb for a 3-4 month period.

So I ask you again if the effects and the outcome of the Botox injections are the same how can YOU know that your (BOTOX) is the real thing and I am taking a chance with my Botox. To be honest we all including yourself is taking a chance we really do not know what this is doing in the long run, but our quest for the fountain of youth is keeping us on this same road ,the road of trying to keep our youth as long as we can and as safe as we can accomplish it, and that is including myself.

Dee Medspa is number one

Laurie the psycho just emailed me saying she is opening back up fr business and just taking time off for the Holidays. LOL,like we don't know why. She must be nuts thinking we don't know what happened. She must want to go to prison that bad. I'm sticking with It's cheaper and better from what I can tell.

here is what her email says.....

In a message dated 12/2/2009 3:33:32 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:

We at Discount Medspa have been working to make sure we are here for you for years to come! Please be patient and we will contact you with our new details soon!

There has been lots of media attention to our site and we will be taking some time off to ejoy the Holidays and Relocate. I appreciate all of you and your support during this difficult time, and promise to be available in the near future!


I’ve been a “self-injector “ for almost 3 years. I inject small amounts of filler frequently and thus have gained practical experience regarding my own face. I studied injection techniques for almost a year before I self-injected – I did not just jump into this, and I hope nobody else does too. My study resources came mostly from physician to physician professional videos, books and even my own injection doctor (past tense) from whom I asked questions and requested a mirror.

I stopped going to my supposedly “expert” filler doc because; 1) the outrageous fees he charged , 2) he didn’t seem to care about his patients at all – it really was about the money – he always charged me extra supposedly for time spent addressing my concerns -- so please don’t tell us docs actually care about us, 3) even though his credentials were impeccable, he is a “doc to doc injection teacher”, he left me very bruised and swollen almost every visit – something I have never done to myself. Thus I started ordering injectables off the Net and Laurie’s site was one of them.

I enjoyed the convenience, great prices, fabulous customer service, and knowing she and others had tried and tested her products (it would have been all over the news/net had someone been seriously harmed /disfigured from her products). Yes, I was very cautious and did a good deal of research regarding her company, her client results/feedback, products and her background before entering my first order.

While I was pleased with the products purchased from Laurie, I was troubled by her aggressive marketing of such and considered her business practice to be very deceptive (and I believe one of her charges are related to just that). This is where my concern with her company lied.

It irked me to see her market generic Chinese HAs as Sculptra (not even close), Restylane, and Juvederm. It also disturbed me to no end to see her market the permanent Chinese filler Amazingel as Artefill -- to even offer a permanent filler to potential first- timers is beyond belief crazy and extremely disturbing.

Yes, I will continue to self-inject, as most others will, as long as doctors remain money hungry and uncaring. But I close this with: buyer beware, do your homework/research (intensely), study anatomy/injection technique, buy pro videos, don’t let anyone tell you “anybody can do it, even a child”, research your product and don’t assume it’s what the seller is telling you it is.

It’s not as hard as the docs make it out to be, but don’t assume anything.


Is this actually possible?