I am running a company and have seen groupon work for some other biz owners I know. But I was thinking about running a small promo for myself and giving out coupons but am not sure how to keep my customers from photo copying them and giving them to all their friends...
How is this done?
Give each coupon a unique identifier (a serial number in effect) and then track when a coupon is used recording the used identifier to prevent it being used multiple times.
Another option is to plan the promo in such a way that you have to do nothing and actually use people photocopying them as free marketing - it might not work in your scenario but it is worth considering.
Serial numbers are effective situationally. If your coupon is worth dying for, it isnt too hard for me to scan the coupon and change the last digit in the serial number. A couple of ways that I can think of which you can do it :
You will have to get Coupon Codes. Coupon barcodes are complex barcodes that allow greater flexibility for marketing your products, tracking the results of your coupon campaigns, and preventing fraud.
Barcodes for coupons consist of two parts:
1) The left portion of the coupon barcode encodes information relating the coupon back to your item, your family code, and the value of the coupon.
2) The right portion of your coupon barcode, referred to as a GS1 Databar, represents a recent upgrade to coupon code technology. The GS1 Databar encodes a lot of information in a small space and represents the part of the coupon barcode where we can encode the most details of your promotion.
In this GS1 Databar portion of your coupon code may rules can be encoded such as:
1) Exact expiration date
2) Very specific purchase requirements
3) Value of the coupon (such as $0.15 off)
4) Whether you give the retailer permission to double the coupon
5) Exact start of your coupon
Read this for more information about Coupon Bar Codes and how to buy them http://www.simplybarcodes.net/barcode-coupons.html
In addition to coupon codes (you don't need full blown serial numbers unless you're scanning them (then you need barcodes)), you should also consider setting an expiration date, and even a possible start date.
A very interesting emerging new trend is QR codes, but I haven't tried these yet.