Creative businesses not snowed under

A man carries shovels as he makes his way to his store in a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Well here in the U.S. a major winter storm is bearing down on a large part of the country, so there are going to be a lot of people staying at home today.

And as a result many businesses are in for a dismal day of sales. But there's a new marketing approach that might help.

Sylvia Maria Gross of KCUR has more from Kansas City.

Sylvia Maria Gross: At Spin Neopolitan Pizza, manager Roger Formanek says business on snow days can be unpredictable, and usually it's dead. But last year, Spin started emailing out a "crummy weather voucher" of 20 percent off on snow days.

Roger Formanek: Literally, almost every guest has the coupon in hand or on their phone. We'll take it either way.

Gross: So chances are, they wouldn't have been here without.

Formanek: Probably not.

Spin was two-thirds full last snow day -- a great turnout considering the awful roads. Morningstar consumer analyst Paul Swinand says this kind of last-minute promotion is made possible by online and social media marketing, and inspired by the popularity of collective-buying sites like Groupon.

Paul Swinand: Marketers when they're trying to be local, they're trying to be relevant for that particular moment, you know they're choosing what's on people's mind.

Even national chains are paying attention to local weather. On snow days, Chipotle offers 50 percent off, plus free chips and guacamole to the person who ventures out in the snow to pick it up.

In Kansas City, I'm Sylvia Maria Gross for Marketplace.

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Turns out the Chipotle 50% off offer is only good in Colorado. A couple of us from work called to two different Chipotle's. One didn't know what we where talking about, the other told us it was just in Colorado.

I sent out an email blast offering a blizzard special on my website since no one can shop at my store. Oh by the way, anything in stock is on sale www.jewelrybydesign.com Happy Blizzard!

I just went to Chipotle in Kansas City and they said there was no discount and no free chips or guacamole.

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