Giving up too soon


A few weeks ago, I received a coupon in the mail for a restaurant that I haven’t been to in years. It was a pretty decent offer, so I kept it around in case I decided to go there. But after looking at the expiration date, I noticed that it expires in mid-December, which is not even two months after I received it. Since I don’t plan to eat there in the next couple of weeks, the coupon will shortly end up in the trash.

I can certainly understand why the coupon might not be valid during the peak times around Christmas and New Year’s. But what about January, when people have returned home and restaurants are probably a lot slower? This would be an ideal time to get local customers back in the door with an enticing offer. Yet unless I somehow receive another coupon that’s valid for that period, the restaurant is missing an opportunity here.

There are several ways to correct this. First, they could just make the coupon valid for a longer period, say November 15 – January 31, but have exclusions for the busiest holiday dates during that span. Second, they could keep the original expiration date, but let the recipient go online to request another coupon if they know they can’t use the first one in time.

Either way, encouraging greater coupon redemption will drive up sales, while also providing more accurate data on the effectiveness of the direct mail coupons. Otherwise, the results may be compromised because customers who wanted to use the coupon simply couldn’t do so in time — and an otherwise successful campaign could be declared a bust.