December 17, 2008

Students create local mobile coupon campaign

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For many people, morning just isn’t morning without that cup of coffee. Carbondale’s Common Grounds Coffee House delivers the java to your home or business, but its owner wondered if Southern Illinois University Carbondale students could create a mobile coupon campaign to boost delivery and in-store business. Master of business administration students in the promotional strategy and management class partnered with the business recently to find out.

Marketing students in the College of Business created a mobile text promotion for Common Grounds and a survey for the business’ Web site. Patrons could sign up to receive Common Grounds promotional offers via text message. Each week for three weeks, customers registering online got a mobile coupon for a special promotion.

Students sent the weekly coupons and customers came in showing their cell phone screen to claim the special. Patronage increased.

“I came up with the idea of running a local mobile coupon campaign based on my academic research on mobile marketing,” said Suzanne Nasco, associate marketing professor in the College of Business. “I wanted to pair my MBA students with a local business that was willing to take a risk and try a new, innovative promotional idea. Jason Bourque and Common Grounds was an ideal partner. Common Grounds has a young, loyal customer base who were open and intrigued about receiving mobile coupons and an owner who was committed to letting my MBA students develop and manage the campaign.”

Nasco said that although tracking the coupon usage was a bit challenging, “Overall the campaign was a success. In fact, one mobile coupon that offered 50 percent off of a pastry with the purchase of a coffee was so successful that the café ran out of pastries that day! I’m proud of my student team. This worked out very well.”

The plan worked so well, Nasco said Common Grounds will continue to offer mobile coupons in the future. Borque said he was looking for non-traditional ways to market his company’s coffee, products and delivery option and he was very pleased with the efforts of the “high-octane students.”

The students conceived expanded promotion plans for the future too, including creation of a social community bringing coffee drinkers together.

Working with the company gave the SIUC marketing students hands-on experience applying what they’re learning during classes to the business world. In turn, it gave Common Grounds a tested advertising and marketing plan, and the basis for continuing promotional efforts to enhance business.

Students creating the campaign for Common Grounds, listed by hometown, are:


Anna -- Emily Craske

Buckley -- Kali Hofer

Vernon -- Curtis Puckett

Washington – Andrew Taylor


Taiwan -- Ya-Ting Wen