Opening Day Specials

Opening WEEK

Hi All!

I have decided to make the special for an entire week. Since student's class schedules vary I want EVERYBODY to get a chance to find out about the new campus coffee cart!

Please give me any and all ideas! I want a big promotion to jump start the business and hopefully build a strong initial customer base. I have some ideas, but I am looking for proven tips that others have successfully used in this business.

Thanks for all help!!!!


Nov 3, 2004
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Your goal with any opening promotion is to 1) get noticed by potential customers and 2) develop a repeat pattern of behavior in your customer base. Drive them to your location, get them to start using your beverage terminology, and emphasize those products that are most advantageous to your business model.

It's difficult to define the recommended promotion without first learning more about your marketing strategy. What differentiates you from your on-site, off-site and home competition? Develop a promotional event that emphasizes those differences and starts your customers buying your products in the manner that you prefer; for example, have you ever considered why we as American consumers feel the urge to purchase a soft drink and French fries with a hamburger?

Our behavior has been patterned by McDonald's and others to believe that these three items are necessary at every meal, largely because it maximizes their profits on every transaction. Every photo in-store shows the three items together, we are bombarded by advertisements showing happy consumers enjoying the combination and products are grouped on the menu for consumers to select. An effective promotion in this scenario may involve the launch of a "combo meal" or other limited time offer that supports the buying habits that the company wishes to develop.

This is, of course, a much larger scale example that one single coffee business on a college campus, but the same rules apply. In the case that your competitive strategy emphasizes quality over the standard quality of products available at Starbucks and the other fast food chains, you should develop an event that showcases that quality and allows customers to sample them in a low-pressure environment. Perhaps a taste test with some financial incentive (try our coffee, complete a survey and receive a $5.00 discount card for future purchases), from which you can collect data for use in future advertising and promotions "95% of Starbucks drinkers prefer Happy Chick Coffee at xyz college campus."

In this case, you 1) get attention 2) have customers trying product 3) receive valuable feedback from those customer and 4) offer a future discount that will increase the likelihood of returning for future transactions (also reinforcing the pattern of use). Not bad for an opening day's event. It's not the "balloons, confetti, clowns and local garage band" idea where most bad businesses waste their marketing money.

Or, depending on your strategy, the most effective promotions may be very different.

Tell us more about your business and we can make other suggestions that may help.

Best of success,

Hi Andrew!

I like your ideas. How about free coffee (espresso drink) for filling out a survey and a coupon for a free muffin (cookie or biscotti) to be redeemed the following week? (The great combo idea!)

I have several ideas planned for promotions, including some kind of student and staff incentive discount cards. Not in the final stages of development yet, though.

This college is in a mid-sized town, surrounded by fast food, fine dining, and a Starbucks. But the traffic getting there and back is so time counsuming that students avoid it whenever they can. There is an on site cafeteria/snack bar that does relatively low business for the college size.

As a former student I can say that I would have LOVED the idea of an easily accessible specialty coffee shop. I hope to open in August, just before fall semester starts and have a promotion the first week of classes.
Of course, it's the quality that will matter the most. But promotion is a super close second!!

Thanks for the ideas! Hope to see some more!!


New member
Dec 8, 2006
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Cheryl Ann;
Why discount students and/or teachers when your customer base on campus is nearly exclusively students and teachers?
The coupon stimulating a return visit can be serialized. The first coupon (free coffee sample for a completed survey) can be distributed heavily for a few days (on vehicles, in bookstore, at registrar, etc.). Then each submitted survey gets a free sample and a coupon for the next day for another offer (buy one, get one free). On redemption of the BOGOfree coupon, the customer gets happy smile and coffee and a new coupon for the next return purchase (buy a Cappuccino, get a free chocolate chip cookie). Every free chipper also receives a new return coupon for buy a Happy Chick travel cup at $8.98, get your first five refills free. Variations on the theme are endless.
Soon you have a loyal clique of happy chick coffee consumers.

Just wanted to let you know that I included your ideas almost verbatim in my business plan and I'm getting rave reviews on it by everyone that has read it so far (the Director of the Small Business Development Center and the Vice-President of AB Tech.)

THANKS for your input and advice on this!! You rock! I plan on adding the variations you suggest after I open. But all my initial promotions will be based on your ideas.

This forum has been invaluable to me, all the ideas I have received have helped me and may even be the pieces that will pull everything off.

What do you think of giving every staff member that comes by the cart a ceramic mug that is for staff only? They number about 700, but only a portion of them will buy my coffees. I think I can get them for less than $2.00 each and will perhaps solidify their patronage?

Thanks for your help. Any more ideas from anyone are WELCOME!!!

Cheryl Ann

Do you have a survey that you have used? I would love to have ideas on a "Starbux versus Happy Chick" survey. My daughter is a current student at this college and could help implement it. All my advisors recommend a survey to solidify industry numbers. Also, what incentives should I offer? She said a recent survey offfered suckers for each completed survey. Is this something I should consider, and if so what should I offer?

A sample survey or something that would lead to it would be GREATLY appeciated!!!!!!

Thanks for your help.

Cheryl Ann