"The Customer is King" ... and other things that get forgotten

A sobering thing happened to me the other day. The kind of thing that causes a marketer to break into a cold sweat.

I went to Sweet Tomatoes. If you haven’t been there, it’s a giant salad and soup bar ('nuff said). Food’s great. But in truth, it’s overpriced UNLESS you have a coupon. Then, it’s a great deal. But the food isn’t my story for the day.

As I approached the cash register, I spied this flyer, declaring they will no longer be accepting paper coupons.

Then I looked around the room. A good 80% of the tables were filled with patrons ages 75 and older.  I just watched them in line, all with paper coupons in hand!

I have to wonder to myself what impact such a bold move will have on their business. Sweet Tomatoes was smart enough to offer a direct mail option, but counting on customers to complete the form in store is a long shot at best. Most likely, patrons will just go elsewhere.

It's the bitter pill that so many businesses and organizations need to swallow.

You have to serve the reality of your people now — and also be looking ahead to tomorrow's people. It's not an either-or proposition. It's both-and.

Occasionally, I'll have a nonprofit ask me if it's time to abandon a direct mail campaign in favor of social media or a text-to-give promotion. The answer is no for now.

Our job is to be in all the channels in which our customers or constituents want to interact, even if that means paper coupons in the newspaper!