Are You Creating a Coupon Business? And, Is That Good or Bad?

window cleaning couponsAges ago, before I was a lover of all things marketing, I worked in a small art gallery/custom frame shop. It was located in a small village in an older, downtown area. In other words, neither the product nor the location drove in gobs of walk-in traffic. The business was the epitome of a “destination” location. The owner was a retired engineer and thought about marketing in a very linear way. He knew what worked in the past and there was no deviating, no experimenting, no trying something new.

He ran a 25% off coupon quarterly in one of those coupon envelopes. And, it worked. We had hordes of people come in the week or so after the coupon arrived. We ran around the sales floor like crazy and had a line of customers waiting to pick out framing for days on end. Then, we framed our fingers to the bone as fast as we could go to crank out those new pieces of art for everyone’s home. Then …

… we were bored outta our minds for the next 10-11 weeks until the next quarterly coupon hit.

He had effectively created a coupon business and it stunk. The goal of any small business owner is to TRAIN your customers. In this case, however, he trained them to only EVER come in when they received a coupon. It was like a Pavlov’s dog reaction: see coupon, buy picture framing.

Not only did he never sell anything at full retail, but he paid employees and rent and utilities for an empty store. I know, cringeworthy, right?! The key to success in any small business is to have a steady flow of customers, each and every day, each and every month, each and every season – NOT just when they see a coupon.

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