Where do you draw the line on cheapening your brand with discounting?

Short of handing out the store to get them in the door, where do you start and end?

Recently I have had many conversations with marketing mavens in the restaurant biz that have all had the same issue on their mind as they head to bed at night: Do we discount? Do we offer offers that entice the guest in and does it cheapen the brand?

I have also spoken with a few marketing groups and PR companies that "get" the business and also utilize QSR style establishments on a day to day bases. When I asked 2 of them, and a room full of them, if they believe in discounting, each person in that room flipped open their wallets and fanned out discount cards like a poker player laying out the winning hand. Logos attacked my eyes and I knew the answer I believed in.

I'm all for discounting. I'm all for bodies stepping over the threshold and committing themselves to eating in my stores. It CAN be done without cheapening the brand and making it appear desperate.

Listen, the reality is, the times are hard. If you are being transparent and saying, "Yeah, we hurt too and we get it that your wallet is's what we can do together".

I (the restaurant) need your business. You the consumer need a break financially so you can eat AND keep the machine called commerce well oiled. It's a "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" situation. But, as a buisness you can do this in the window that you are comfortable doing discounting in. You can do 10% off something, you can do a "Buy Back" based of a rewards system, you can have a loyalty program in place and you CAN have those people returning because YOU show you get "IT"!

People, guests, like to feel that they are rewarded for loyalty. It makes sense!

In this economy we can't just rely on a name or concept anymore. We need to be taking chances. we need to be addressing the truth that this country is not yet back on track and we can all get through this together!

As you know, people love to talk. They love to spread the good news that they have found a deal somewhere and now they can do it at not just the office desk, but on Twitter, Facebook, etc...The audience is there and now it's time to give them a reason to hear us.

What do you think? Let me know :-)

And So It Goes...

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  • I would think 2 for 1 may cheapen the brand.  We let customers enter any VIP perk they want so they can make one that fits the brand.  A lot of NYC customers who worry about looking cheap offer complimentary bottle of prosecco to VIPs.  Since we cap our loyalty to the 10 most active customers and they compete for VIP status, it doesn't look like you're giving away the farm.  This allows you to make it more compelling as not everyone is loyal enough to get it.

  • At what point does your loyalty/discounts cheapen your brand? Does 2 for 1, send out the wrong message?

  • Hi Ty,

    Nice to see you writing about loyalty and discounts:)  Check out Corazon's results for our VIP Leaderboard (gives the top 10 customers 20% off the check for loyalty).

    We battle a balance of restaurants giving away too little to be compelling versus fear they'll give away too much. 

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