aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

5-cent Coffee and Free Horseback Rides

Posted by Ellen on June 28, 2009

FiveCentCoffeeYou’re barely inside the South Dakota state line when you start to see them: Wall Drug signs. Many of them sport 5-cent coffee come-0ns. Great idea! Who doesn’t love a bargain? And there’s no other obligation. Drop your nickel in the slot, add sugar and/or powdered cream to your liking, and fill your cup.

We ran into 5-cent coffee at another restaurant and even asked what the catch was. No catch. We even got real cream at this place. We’d stopped in for lunch anyway, but somewhere in our heads was the notion that because we were saving a few bucks on the coffee, we could spend that in another way.

If you know anything about coffee in restaurants, you know that it’s — in a regular coffee season — a real money-maker. (If you doubt my word, calculate out how many cups you can brew from what you buy in the store, then charge yourself a two dollars a cup and see how much money you’d make on that bag or tin of grounds or beans).

So it’s an easy thing to do — 5-cents a cup — it goes along way to curry favor with the customers, and it really doesn’t cost the restaurant much money at all (assuming they can’t break even on the five-cents, what with the water, cream, sugar, washing, and serving that goes with it).

One of the campgrounds where we stayed advertised free horseback rides. I asked my husband if we stayed a week if that got us a free ride, or something like that. He smiled and said, “Get this. If we both pay for a horseback ride, we get a night’s stay free.”

On the surface, that sounds like a deal, right? But here’s how it would have worked in our case: $45 each = $90 for the rides. What were we paying for one night’s stay? About $15. Hmmmmm……

Moral of the story? If you’re going to provide an incentive, work out every angle. In the Web world, they call it a “use case scenario.” The designers imagine every possible user for the site, and work through ever possible thing they might want to do on the site, then design it to include those features.

What are the use case scenarios for your members? Will your incentives hold up to them? Will you have a five-cent cup of coffee, or a free horseback ride?

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