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Deals are still going strong but are never going to be the principal promotional channel for the vast majority of businesses, noted Deal Current President Patrick Dillon, who was speaking March 20 at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local conference in Boston. Dillon said that in San Diego, for instance, there are 23,600 businesses that advertise, but just 6,700 have run a deal during the past two years.

That’s typical. In larger markers less than 30 percent of SMBs generally engage in deals, although it is probably higher in smaller markets, said Dillon.

The answer for higher account penetration is to add online coupons to the mix: both flat rate and performance-based. In fact, they should “lead with coupons, and then drop down to deals” when deals are more appropriate.

The advantage of performance-based coupons is they can cut in on search budgets; SMbs only pay for what they use; and they can also be “networked.” Coupons can be added to national coupon sites, for instance; or published with several media properties in a market. In San Diego, for instance, Deal Current has a network of eight publishers sharing revenues.

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