How to Use Coupons to Promote Your Business

Thom Reece

Coupons are a great way to attract get and existing customers coming to your business. Here are 12 tips to use coupons to advertise your business.

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Coupons have proven themselves to be highly effective sales tools for every conceivable size and type of business.

Because coupons "pull in the business" they have gained remarkable acceptance and popularity among astute marketing managers. A simple explanation for their acceptance by advertisers is their overwhelming acceptance and use by the consuming public. In fact, Advertising Age (the Bible of the advertising industry) reports that 87% of all shoppers use coupons.

Another independent marketing research firm, the A.C. Nielson Co., reveals that 95% of all shoppers like coupons. And 60% actively look for coupons.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "In a Pinch, Snip.", states that coupon use rises, as the economy in any given area slides. 54% of shoppers surveyed said they had already stepped up use of coupons, and even more are expected to do so.

It's very easy to see why coupon advertising is sweeping the country. Regular use of good couponing strategy will provide a steady stream of new customers and high quality sales leads.

Savvy marketers cite these reasons for heavy reliance on couponing:

A. Coupons have the effect of expanding or increasing your market area. We know that consumers will travel far to redeem a valuable coupon.

B. Coupons will entice new customers that have been shopping at your competitor. It's a proven fact that consumers will break routine shopping patterns to take advantage of a good coupon offer.

C. Coupons attract new residents when they are actively in the market for products and services.

D. Coupons will re-activate old customers. Those customers that have been lured away by your competitor will start buying from you again when you give them a good reason to do so.

E. Coupon advertising provides the opportunity for additional profits through sale of related items. (Business owners often forget this.) When you offer a special "deal" on a coupon to invite a customer to do business with you, you have to remember that this same customer will probably end up buying additional items that carry a full profit margin.

In addition, you also are being 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.

F. Coupons build store traffic which results in additional impulse purchases.

G. Coupons are measurable and accountable. 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.

Understand that the media delivering the coupon has very little to do with the response. Publications simply deliver your offer to a specific audience. It's up to you to determine what offer produces the best response from that audience. You do this through methodically testing various offers. Savvy use of this "coupon testing" technique will give you the specific knowledge you require to greatly improve all of your advertising response, your sales, and your profits.

How do you go about creating a coupon promotion that will work for YOU? Here's what I like to call...

Thom's Twelve Tips For Effective Couponing:

Tip#1...Make A Solid Offer!

  • Offer Discounts..."$50.00 Off!", "60% Off!", (percentage discounts are only good when they are high percentages and the value of the product or service is well known.) Dollars Off discounts work best.
  • Offer Bonuses..."Buy One/Get One Free!", or "2 Free with Each Case Ordered!", "Free Batteries When You Buy One Super Flashlight", or "Free Drop Cloth with Each Gallon of Super Paint", etc.
  • Offer Premiums...Offer premiums for a presentation, for a trial order, for a subscription, for a demonstration, for a new customer referral, for an order amounting to $xxx or larger", etc.
  • Offer Free Information..."FREE booklet", "FREE brochure", "FREE estimate", "FREE details", "FREE samples", "FREE trial", "FREE consultation", "FREE quote", etc.

Tip#2....Use Bold, Commanding And Specific Headlines!

  • "Save $50.00 on Any Portable TV....This Month Only!"
  • "FREE BROCHURE...'Beauty Secrets for Career Woman'!"
  • "Free Catalog Saves YOU 70% on Office Supplies!"
  • "Rent Two NEW RELEASE Video Movies--Get One FREE!"
  • "Buy One Dinner Entree--Get One FREE!"
  • "Buy Five Cases of Copier Paper--Get the Sixth Case Absolutely Free!"

Tip#3...Use Line Illustrations Or Photographs.

  • Illustrations work best when you show products in-use.
  • Illustrations enhance credibility, aid understanding, and create desire.

Tip#4...Use Your Logo In Your Coupon.

  • Use of logo: builds company identity and awareness in the marketplace, enhances your image, lends credibility to your offer, and improves response.

Tip #5....Make Effective Use Of White Space.

  • Don't clutter. Don't cram.

Tip#5...Sell The Benefits.

  • Save time, save money, increase profits, protect your family, improve your standard of living, be happier, improve your health, increase your income, increase your comfort, more convenient.

Tip#7....Appeal To The Self-Interest Of Your Customer.

  • Your customer is only interested in what you can do for him or her. Your customer will only buy the benefits-of-use of your product or service. Let me say that again...your customer is only interested in the benefits of use of your product....not the product itself.

Tip#8...Make Effective Use Of The 18 Most Powerful Words In Advertising.

  • free, now, new, how to, save, guarantee, money, easy, simple, you, proven, love, results, discovery, fast, amazing, sex, profit.

Tip#9...Always Up-Sell.

  • Offer extras when a customer requests information or places an order. Always suggest related items. Point out the added features and benefits of a higher priced item and then show the customer specifically how these features will make his life easier, safer, etc.

Tip#10...Spread Your Specials Around--Consider The Traffic Pattern In A Retail Store.

  • Set up product displays so that you force your customer to walk the entire expanse of your store. Your "impulse" buys will increase dramatically when you expose your customer to more products by well planned placement of "sale items".

Tip#11...Capture Your Customers Name, Address, And Telephone Number. Develop An In-House Mailing List For On-Going Direct Marketing Use.

  • Your customer list represents your most valuable asset. Your greatest potential for sales and profits lies in the customer database. To ignore this potential is pure folly.

Tip#12...Don't Stop After The Sale.

  • Create a planned program of continuous follow-up to your customer list.
  • Use ride-alongs, invoice stuffers, new catalogs, new product brochures, special sale flyers, preferred customer sales and discounts, customer appreciation events, more coupons. Keep your customers coming back to YOU!

ã Copyright 2005 Thom Reece All Rights Reserved
Thom Reece is the CEO of On-Line Marketing Group, a direct response marketing agency with headquarters in Hawaii. He is the creator of the Online Marketing Resource Center . Thom can be reached by email at:

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