Discount coupons have proven to be highly effective marketing tools for every conceivable size and type of business. A simple explanation for their acceptance by advertisers is their overwhelming popularity and use by the consuming public. In fact, Advertising Age reports that 87 percent of all shoppers use coupons. Another independent marketing research firm, the A.C. Nielson Co., reveals that 95 percent of all shoppers like coupons, and 60 percent actively look for coupons. Regular use of good couponing strategy can provide a steady stream of new customers and high quality sales leads. Following are other benefits of having a coupon marketing strategy:
Benefits of a Coupon Marketing Strategy
1) Pull in business, and have the effect of expanding or increasing your market area. Some consumers will even travel far to redeem a valuable coupon.
2) Entice new customers that been shopping with your competitor. It’s a proven fact that consumers will break routine shopping patterns to take advantage of a good coupon offer.
3) Attract new customers when they are actively looking for products and services.
4) Reactivate old customers. Those customers that have been lured away by your competition will start buying from you again when you give them a good reason to do so, like a coupon.
5) Provide the opportunity for additional profits through the sale of related items. Business owners often forget this. When you offer a special deal on a coupon inviting customers to do business with you, remember that these same customers will probably end up buying additional items. In addition, you are given the opportunity to sell up to a more profitable product or service. You would not have had this opportunity had it not been for the coupon getting the customer through the door in the first place.
Don’t overlook that couponing is the most measurable and accountable form of promotion. It’s simply a matter of counting the number of coupons redeemed to judge the effectiveness of the offer. Wise use of this consumer feedback will guide you in creating future offers that improve your results. Here are some of the more important DOs for creating an effective coupon promotion:
• DO have a plan in place.
• Make a solid offer.
• Use bold and specific headlines, without putting your company name or logo at the top.
• Use line illustration or photographs.
• Include your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
• Appeal to the self-interest of your customer.
• Make sure to include multiple ways for prospects to get in touch with you.
• Include an expiration date for using the coupon.
• Remember to always upsell.
• Capture your customer’s name, address, and phone number, so you can develop an in-house mailing list for ongoing direct marketing.
• Train your staff to prepare for the event.
• Use point of sale displays to help cross sell and up sell in the store.
Now let’s take a look at some important DON’Ts. Couponing alone is not marketing; it is only one part of what must be a multi-faceted marketing plan. Too many inexperienced small business owners will sit back and be satisfied to reap the rewards of a coupon campaign, without a follow up program designed to keep customers coming back for more. They then calculate how much it cost them in terms of money and time, instead of how much they invested and what to do next to ensure they get an optimized ROI. Don’t ignore the fact that all promotions are going to cost you. You must make a serious effort to figure out what the actual costs will be before you initiate a promotion.
Don’t diminish the consumer who’s looking for a deal. With the advent of Internet coupon delivery services, business owners everywhere have a new consumer accepted channel to get advertising exposure for their businesses. The people who buy or access your coupons online are strong new customers who want what you’re selling, enough to seek it out and sometimes pre-purchase your offer. Business owners who use this tactic without understanding the essential need to create an extended campaign will have a negative experience. Those who use Internet base coupon campaigns successfully tend to limit the time period and/or volume; plan well enough to offer their best service during the promotional time period; make sure to collect customer information for a marketing list, since these customers will bring in revenue at a later date.
This article was written by Steve Chapman, who has over 35 years of marketing and sales management, business management and small business ownership experience. He is now actively involved in developing an Internet based training and business consultancy, SOMA Marketing & Communication Consulting.