Coupons do not work for long term success.
Study after study has shown they do not. Who they help is the transient guest who goes from place to place because they have coupons. No loyalty there and loyal, raving fans are who you want! Advertising just for the sake of keeping your name in front of the public is a strategy for disaster. A shotgun approach to marketing will only waste your money and give you little in return. This is the bogus approach that has all but given up the ghost. Your marketing should be focused on keeping your name in front of those guests who;
- Visit you.
- Are most likely to visit you.
- Fans of those in #1 and #2.
While also remembering the only three ways to increase sales are to;
- Increase the number of guests who visit you.
- Increase the number of times they frequent you, or
- Increase the size of their purchase with you.
Sadly more operators focus on number 1, at the expense of 2 and 3. A study by Marketing Metrics tells us that the probability of selling something to a new prospect is only about 5-20%, while the probability of selling something to an existing customer is 60-70%! Wow! Bet on those numbers!
You build volume in our business, one guest at a time and you do this by creating a marketing plan that focuses more on the meaningfully differentiated value of what you offer guests. Your marketing campaigns should be focused on informing/reminding guests of that value. Even more numbers? Studies also tell that the 80/20 rule is very much alive in our restaurants. 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your guests. So to which group does it make more sense to focus on? This is the reason for the explosion in rewards programs. It is not new either.
Warning: The following post contains massive amounts of exclamation points.
There is more value in a lifetime fan as a guest than chasing new guests every two weeks. It is also less expensive to reward those guests who frequent you than to spend on finding new ones. With couponing you focus on the pricing aspect of your relationship with your guests, when they really want value – YOUR value! or the ‘What you do best’ Pricing strategies turn your product into a commodity, and you get killed by ‘sameness’ - no differentiation! No Unique Experience Proposition (UEP).
‘Everyone coupons so I must also!’
I hear it everyday. But then I ask operators, if they do the same thing everyone else does, how do guests pick you out of the multitude of options they have today? How do you sell the guest a better experience than your competition, when everything else you do yells, ‘I’m just like they are!’ You can’t because your brand is now trapped by the pricing stereotype. It will take even more work and effort (and marketing dollars!) to get out from under it when the sales driver in your market is determined to be value. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: How many places in you market sell a chicken sandwich?
Me: Why should people buy yours?’
Operator: (large amounts of silence or stuttering) Because it’s better!
Me: Why is it better?
Operator: Because it is made from scratch!
The answer lies in the fact that people will buy from you because there is a better value in buying from you. If you make that value a pricing decision, then he with the best coupon wins that day, but loses in the long run because someone will build a better chicken sandwich experience and now the best value isn’t one based on price and all your guests have come to know you as the discount chicken sandwich King!
You must create a UEP based Marketing plan for the long term that leverages synergies and compliments each piece so that a congruent message is communicated to those in the three categories above. The sum of your efforts must therefore exceed the cost of the efforts combined or else you lose money!
You only achieve this through a concerted marketing effort towards meaningfully differentiated value for your guest utilizing a UEP to amplify your uniqueness. Use any marketing effort that encourages a ‘be all things to all people’ approach and you get drowned out by all the noise.