By Andrea Ludtke, Special to CNBC.com
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- Consumers have gotten savvier about finding good bargains, so businesses have to work harder to build customer loyalty. Offering them one-time deals doesn't work anymore. Popular daily-deal sites LivingSocial and Groupon have exploded, but clients of Welcomemat Services, a direct-mail marketing company, say those customers are only as loyal as the coupon's expiration date. This can make short-term deals the wrong strategy for local businesses that need more than a temporary boost in sales to survive. Started in 2003, Welcomemat targets people moving into a new home with a packet of coupons for free services from local businesses. And while home buying is still down, the increase in renting is keeping business booming. Whether it's finding a place to get a haircut, wash the car, or dry clean a shirt, new residents still need these services--even in a bad economy.
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