When I spoke to small business owners in Ponca City recently, one audience member asked about offering coupons and discounts.
So we talked about her business (basically, a franchised frozen yogurt parlor), and how they’ve gotten started with coupons and discounts, so now people seem to expect them.
I made up these two rules for coupons on the spot:
1. Track them.
Never issue coupons that you can’t track how effective they are. Find ways to keep track of where they go out, when they get used, and whether those customers ever return.
I think a natural follow on is to make the coupon a lead-in to a loyalty program. You came in for the free cone; now we want to hook you with our Dish of the Week.
2. Make the coupon an experience.
The coupon itself could be an interesting experience.
Sonic Drive-Ins issued poker chip coupons. They aren’t cheap plastic things. They are heavy and soft-finished like real poker chips. You can see I kept mine. They even look like the mints Sonic is known for handing out.
The act of redeeming a coupon could be an interesting experience.
Servers could break into song. A free item could be served in a special dish. Maybe the coupon is for a special experience, like a drink in the “hidden” room in a bar.
Since I’ve admitted I made those up on the spot, I’m betting you can improve on them. What ideas do you have?
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.