Coupons: A Successful & Essential Part of Any Promotional Plan

couponsCoupons have been around since first distributed by the Coca Cola Company in 1887. Over time they have proven to be highly effective sales tools for every conceivable size and type of business.

What is a coupon? In its most rudimentary form, a coupon is a voucher entitling the holder to a discount for a particular product or service. In the past the coupon was typically a paper voucher handed out at the retail location, or found in a local newspaper or magazine. Fast forward to today and coupons are much more creative in their look, their offers, and where they can be found. Coupons are still in newspapers, magazines, and of course your mailbox, but now they also have their own websites and are sometimes sent directly to consumers via email and mobile phones.

• 90% of all coupons are distributed via print, 1% via digital.
• 50% of all coupon redemption is attributed to print, 12% to digital.
• 87% of consumers surveyed reported using print coupons they receive in the mail.
• No significant difference in coupon usage across generations or income level.

It may be easy to understand why consumers love coupons, but as a retailer, what is in it for you? When used properly, coupons are a fantastic way to promote new products or services, reach new customers, reach them earlier in the buying process, and reward loyal customers. They can also be used for a quick boost in sales and store traffic during typically slow periods. Below are some tips and tricks for your next coupon campaign.

Tips & Tricks for Coupon Success

Know your customer
What type of offer appeals most to your target market? A set amount like $50 off? 50% off? Buy One Get One? Percentage discounts work well when they are high percentages and the value of the product or service is known. Dollars off discounts seem to work best overall. Look back at what has worked for you in the past or do some smaller test runs on the most common offers.

Focus on the benefits for your customer
The reality is your customer is most interested in what you can do for him or her, not always the product itself. Save time, save money, increase profits, protect your family, be happier, improve your health, increase your income, be more comfortable, more convenient. These are all strong benefits to motivate your customers into action.

Know your business
What are their typical buying habits in your industry? How flexible can you be with pricing based on your fixed costs? Are there days/times that are particularly slow? A casual restaurant might do well with a BOGO deal, but a pizza shop might do better with $2 off as fewer people need two pizzas. Consider offering a free added value item or service to help you to maintain pricing on low margin items. Discounting pricing on specific days may help to increase traffic during slow periods.

Be creative with your offer and with your design
A strong offer combined with a strong headline will get attention and be more likely to be saved and used by consumers. A few examples: “Save $50.00 This Month Only!”, “You Save 70% on Office Supplies!”, “Buy One Dinner Entree–Get One FREE!”

Consider the method of distribution
Shared Mail? Newspaper Insert? How about social, email, mobile? There are a variety of ways you can get your coupon into the hands of your customers. Once again, knowing your customer will help you determine best way to distribute.

Added Bonus Tip
Prepare for future success! Capture and track your customer’s information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc) at time of redemption. Develop an in-house mailing list for future use. Ask for or use redemption info as feedback for future promotions. Information from your customers represents one of your most valuable assets.

September is National Coupon Month. Visit our Facebook page for fun facts about coupons all month long.