As you approach one of the most important business seasons, it is important to consider all strategies to maximize store traffic, sales and profits over the holidays.  Using a coupons advertising strategy can help drive traffic, encourage additional purchases once they are in the store, and create repeat business. 

With all the chatter about mobile and online advertising, it can be easy to assume that coupon use is dropping.  Not true according to Advertising Age.  They report that 87% of all shoppers use coupons.  And Nielson reports that 95% of shoppers like coupons, and 60% actively look for them.  And, when money is tight, shoppers tend to step up the use of coupons.  The Wall Street Journal reports that as the economy slides, 54% of shoppers surveyed said they had already stepped up the use of coupons and even more expected to do so.  It has also been proven that customers will travel far to redeem a valuable coupon. 

That is the secret though.  Simply putting a coupon in your ad and expecting it to pull won’t work.  That is an if-you-build-it-they will-come mentality.  Coupons need to be attractive enough for a consumer to first notice it, then take the time and effort to cut it out, download it or capture it in some way, and then remember to bring it with them when they go shopping.  To do that your coupon needs to be considered “valuable” to the consumer.

The best way to know if a coupon will present the right value is to test and learn over time.  Try different strategies each week and see if a percent off or dollar amount off works best.  People seem to love BOGO (buy one get, one FREE) offers.  You won’t know for sure what will work best until you start experimenting and tracking results.  But, don’t let not knowing stop you from trying.  Here are some general guidelines that can help you succeed right off the bat.

Make it a solid offer.  A small percent off won’t get anyone excited.  A value of 25% or more tends to have a better draw.  Buy two get one free is a great way to offer 33% off and get people to buy three items instead of offing 33% off one item.  If you do offer an amount off, consider a dollar figure rather than a percent.  For example, $10.00 off may catch more attention than 30% off.  Often percentages only work well when they are high and the value of the product or service is well known.

People love the idea of getting something for FREE.  Get a FREE printer when you sign up for our monthly ink supply program.  Or get FREE lifetime maintenance with the purchase of a new furnace.  You can give away a FREE dessert with each entrée.  If you do offer something FREE, make sure to spell out the value it represents.  For example, the FREE printer may be worth $75.

When you design your coupons, it is important to follow the tried and true advertising guidelines.  Use bold benefit headlines; use attractive graphics; include your logo and address so once they cut out the coupon they know how to find you; and finally make good use of white space.  Just because you buy the entire space, doesn’t mean you have to cram it full of words.  That is like trying to get the Gettysburg Address on the head of a pin.  No one wants to read that.

Coupons are measurable and accountable.  Savvy promotors and business people know that a well-timed, high-perceived value, well-designed coupon strategy will help drive sales and profits.

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