Gift Certificate Marketing, Don’t Forget the Follow Through – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to Mango Moon.

There’s a new craze for half off gift certificates for local companies. As a marketer, I think it is great because these small companies, whether they are a restaurant, a gym, or a retail store, can gain some major exposure by partnering up with websites like Groupon.com, and HalfOffDepot.com.

So why am I awarding Mango Moon Restaurant this award if they used one of these websites to gain exposure? It was in their follow through. Gift certificates are a way to get people in the door, but you can not forget the follow through.

I had friends of mine go to their restaurant and use all of the gift certificate except $4. And they didn’t give them the balance for a return visit, not $4 in cash; it should have been $4 to use at their restaurant for another visit. It could have been in the form of a business card someone fills out, or even just printed on their receipt. Sure, $4 might seem like they shouldn’t honor it, and plus they already ate for ½ price with the purchase of this gift certificate. But the kicker, Mango Moon could have had return customers with that $4, and they would have spent much more than that! As soon as my friends told me this last night, that’s when I realized I needed to tell everyone out there with a business. (Note: Have you had this experience? Tell us about it below!!)

They blew their chance! Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know if it was just a server that made this decision, but it should have been communicated to everyone on the staff to honor anything leftover on these certificates. The first step with Groupon, or Half Off Depot, is to gain a customer. They accomplished this. The second step, get them to come back! Isn’t that what you want with all of your customers? So, now did their ½ off gift certificate work to gain them business? I have to say NO, because they didn’t follow through on something small and seemingly insignificant.

Lesson Learned: The small stuff counts! Even though your customers are getting an amazing deal the first time around, and might be cutting into your costs, you have to think about the future. How much will your customers be worth the next time they visit, and the next time and the next time? Your customers, and potentially loyal customers, are sitting at a table in your restaurant. They are already there, waiting to be reeled in! Don’t let them get away.

And remember, as an owner you need to communicate to your staff what you are doing marketing wise, so that they will be able to follow through for you. Make them feel part of the team, and part of the life of the business.

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