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Good Coupons Create New Business

Monday, November 15 2010 7:44 AM
By Brandon White

If we've learned one thing from Groupon and daily deals sites, it's that consumers love a good deal. Now, it's tempting to talk a lot about daily deal sites here, but let's just say they have big pros and big cons. They're not right for every business, but for certain industries they are a great way to attract customers. Instead, let's focus on old school coupons. They're not only still viable, but they can drive a ton of new business through your doors.

I (speaking as a consumer) frequently see a lot of coupons out in the world that just suck. I'd never use them. In fact I'd call a lot of them spam. I mean, really, if I have to spend $10.00 to get $.75 off, and I have to use the coupon between 11am and 3pm Monday - Thursday, and I have to print the coupon out on paper, and it excludes the ultra-mega-super-deluxe burrito supreme... I'm probably not going to bother. I suppose a smart consume would go ahead use it if they were going to be in the store anyway, but a coupon like that is not going to get anyone to make a special trip and it's certainly not going to attract new customers. Don’t waste your time.

Lame Coupons: Coupons with too many restrictions, coupons with no real value, coupons that are too specific (i.e. don't appeal to a large group of consumers)

Good Coupons: Obvious value, easy to use, generates excitement.

If you're operating a business and running print or online coupons, it's important have a strategy, set goals and determine your expectation for return (or loss) you're going to see on the coupon. So why are you doing it?

Reasons to run coupons:

  • Draw new customers
  • Reward existing customers
  • Create sales opportunities (Up-sells and more profitable products)
  • Increase sales of a specific product
  • Encourage repeat business
  • Measure the value of a specific advertising venue
  • Create a viral marketing piece

Sometimes coupons aren't about making money directly. The premise of a loss leader is to create a coupon or campaign that’s such a bargain, consumers will jump at the chance to get the deal... A great coupon can make a consumer do something they weren't necessarily planning on. You might lose money on every coupon that's redeemed, but the goal is to lure new customers and to create opportunities that go beyond the coupon product. It's a chance to meet people that were previously unfamiliar with your business, strengthen relationships with existing customers, and create sales from people that might not be in your store without the coupon. Think of a loss leader as an advertising expense. It is, and it works.

Accept mobile coupons. Smartphones rule, and accepting mobile coupons means it's easier for consumers. If you can't create coupon codes or pre-set coupons in your point of sale, use a simple "write it down" system to keep track of them.

The best coupons, just like the daily deal sites, are the ones that generate excitement. Maybe because of the value, maybe because it's a really unique product or offer. If people get excited about a coupon, they will not only use it, but they also tell their friends about it, share it via email, blogs and on social networks.

So, as the holidays approach, think of a good deal that will get consumers into your doors. The better the deal, the more coupons you'll get. Find an offer good enough that it will appeal to a large audience, make your coupon a quick read that has simple rules and is easy to redeem.  Bottom line, give consumers a good offer and they'll respond. Now get to it... I've got holiday shopping to do.

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