Small Business Tip Tuesday: If a Deal Falls Over in the Forest and No One Hears, Does it Exist?

by Ken Mueller on January 24, 2012 · 13 comments

Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed t...

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I’m a member of AAA. Mostly because I want them to be there when my battery dies or my car breaks down. My membership is like insurance: it’s peace of mind.

But the other cool thing is that through AAA I get discounts at a lot of places: restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, stores.

The only problem is, I forget. When I go to some place that offers a discount through AAA, I forget to ask. And in most cases, they’ve done nothing to help me remember. No signage, no messaging, nothing.

As business owners we do a lot of things to get people through the door, but then we forget to actually tell our customers. Whether it’s AAA, AARP, or some other discount or coupon special, make sure you tell others about it, both on and offline, and across all platforms.

Certainly there is something to be said for a Facebook only promotion, but don’t just mention it on Facebook. Tell your customers in your business about the promotion. It might just be what drives them to “like” your Facebook page. No matter what you do on any particular platform, or even offline, use all platforms to promote the deal.

Do you double or triple coupons? Remind your customers of that on Facebook or Twitter.

Are you offering a special via Groupon or Living Social? Let folks know about it both in your business and online.

Do you have a coupon in the newspaper or one of those coupon magazines? Use your online social properties to tell your customers to pick one up.

And do you offer any special discounts through AAA, AARP, or certain credit cards or rewards programs? Frequent reminders to your customers might send them your way. You might even want to use signage and QR Codes to direct your in-store customers to your online properties and deals.

In other words, any special deals you offer do you no good if no one knows about them.

Finally, as you decide what to offer, particularly through Foursquare or other online geolocation/offer sites, choose carefully. Your offer or discount should meet five criteria:

1) It must be enough of an incentive to bring people into your store – Sure it’s nice to reward your loyal customers and those who are already in your store, but design offers to bring people through the door, whether it’s a first visit or a repeat visit. Make sure it has enough value to draw them in. A $1 discount probably won’t do the trick.

2) It should somehow be related to your business – If you’re a restaurant, and you’re trying to attract people to your Facebook page by giving away an iPad, you might get a lot of new fans. But are they quality engaged fans? Are they there for the iPad or do they really care about your business? It’s a great prize, but a better prize is something that is of interest to your customers in terms of what you do as a business.

3) It won’t break the bank – Everyone wants a great offer, but if your offer is TOO good, you might lose out. Think carefully about what you choose, and how likely people are to respond. You don’t want to run out (and be the recipient of smack talk online) or have to give so many away that the ROI is in the negative numbers.

4) It is shareable – Once someone has logged on to get a special deal online, give them the opportunity of telling others about it via their social networks. Most probably won’t follow through, but if even a few agree to share, you’ll gain exposure to more people. Remember, the social web is built on social connections and word of mouth. Give your customers the tools to share your deals, and let them do the work for you.

5) It is simple – Keep it simple. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops by visiting 5 pages to fill out multiple forms to get a deal. Don’t make them give away too much personal information. The easier it is to take advantage of a deal, the more likely people are to follow through. Get them in the door. Once you do, then you can “Wow” them with your products and services, and hook them. And then, and only then, should you try to get more information out of them.

In this economy, special deals, and even touting the discounts you already offer, might be just enough to give you an edge over your competitors.

How are you using deals to bring customers through the door? And how are you letting your customers know about the deals you offer?



Last year, one Friday night, I was picking up a takeout order from a local restaurant.  The manager who swiped my card handed it back to me and said "Mr Logue, I notice you're using an American Express.  I hope we'll see you here again tomorrow for Small Business Saturday. If you place an order over $25 here or at another small business you get a statement credit of $20."


Perfect execution. 


Great advice, Ken. I especially like #5 -- often, a business will lose the prospective customer entirely because the steps (whether on line, via mail-in, or other) were too confusing or time consuming. I wonder -- do they do this intentionally so I don't redeem the offer? Then why did they bother in the first place? On the other side, I have noticed recently that Foursquare is making me aware of offers, and making them very easy to redeem. I think this will be the trend.


I had to turn off Foursquare; who can be the mayor of the Mons Venus dance club anyway? They didn't have any discounts either...........


IF I print that Coca Cola coupon and take it to the movie theater, do you think it's still good?


  1. […] Small Business Tip Tuesday: If a Deal Falls Over in the Forest and No One Hears, Does it Exist? ( […]

  2. […] Small Business Tip Tuesday: If a Deal Falls Over in the Forest and No One Hears, Does it Exist? ( […]

  3. […] hearing about, whether it be a new platform like Pinterest, or something related to QR Codes and geolocation. I love when they are paying attention to what’s going on around them, and ask me questions. […]

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