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My pal uses Groupon and others to drive traffic. His costs cover the coupon and profit. He hopes for return visits to really make up the profit. Who doesn't, right?
What if you are training your customers to be like rats with cheese? What if they only shop at your shop when they get a coupon? Then they use a competitor coupon for their next fix. Loyalty is gone.
Well, did you have loyalty before?
There are ways to proceed with coupon caution. Use the coupon to get likes on your Facebook page where you can interact with them.
Use the coupon to get them to follow you on twitter - the only place that you will coupon again in this quarter.
Use the coupon to get their email address and their birthday to be able to offer them a birthday coupon as well as taylored specials through out the year. This takes some work, but this is how you build a tribe. And Tribes mean loyal customers.
Loyalty programs kind of work. Store owners could launch their own rewards or loyalty program to get repeat customers.
It's true the cooupon clippers are looking for a freebie, but the coupon was to get them to try it, get traffic. The small business owner's job is what do you do next? Be a little creative and build a Tribe. (Thanks Seth Godin).