I cringe every time a prospect or client tells me they want to say, “Mention this ad.” Nobody ever mentions an ad. Well, I sure don’t, and I tell them that. It’s actually insulting to savvy consumers to have to do the work of the business owner by helping them track their ads by making mention of it.
And coupons? Same. I just lost business because I wouldn’t do their coupon. Businesses don’t actually want to give money away; they think a coupon or offer will help them track the ad. If they want to track an ad, they can track their sales revenue, or better yet, have a conversation with their buyers that involve a question about what brought them in to their place of business.
The only problem with that is, consumers don’t even remember what motivated them. Plus, a consumer will tell the business they saw them in “the paper” which is what Coffee News® is, a paper. Right there we lose. If a business advertises in the local daily paper and in the Coffee News® PAPER, and the consumer says “the paper,” the business will always automatically assume that means the daily paper. Like a consumer is going to go into a business waving Coffee News and announce, “I saw your ad on the left hand column on the back side of Coffee News that I picked up on Tuesday at McDonald’s in Nashville.”
Everyone wants to do a coupon and I simply discourage him or her. I ask them why they want to give money away when they are already spending money on the ad. I tell them to start without the coupon/offer and run like that for a few weeks and see what happens. Works every time! No coupon, they get results and everybody’s happy!
These are some notes about coupons that I keep in my bag of tricks and refer back to for polite verbiage:
Can I ask what your motivation in extending an offer is? If it’s for tracking-only purposes, I will strongly caution you against it. Coffee News® is not a discount-type penny-saving publication. An “offer” is ok if you really want to give something away and it’s a proven fact that a discount doesn’t reach a noticeable effect until it reaches 40%. Anything less than that will not move people to buy, it will bring in only coupon-cutters that will shop only if and when there is an offer. They will just wait for the next offer and will not help grow your regular business. You will also alienate your potential regular buyers, causing them to think you are a cut-rate business, when you aren’t that at all.
A lot of people want to run coupons in Coffee News® for tracking purposes, but it’s not necessary.
Have you ever heard of “couponitis?” It’s the inability of a business to attract customers without coupons. I try to protect my clients from this awful disease! “Offers” attract our “C” buyers – those bargain hunters who will only buy on “deep” discounts, and whose loyalty to any store is entirely dependent on what everyone else is offering. The more coupons/discount sale ads that are used, the more these buyers will expect to wait for coupons before buying. Coupons do not appeal to the types of buyers who buy at retail, and may actually scare them away thinking the business offers poor quality merchandise, which isn’t worth the retail price.
All that being said, I do actually have 3 businesses running coupons. One has been in for probably 13 or 14 years and the business is a massage school that offers a 1-hour student massage for only $25. That’s quite a deal! Another is an eye doctor that has been with me maybe 6 years and runs a coupon for 50% off an eye exam. Another great deal. The third is a discount, dent & bent grocery store that runs $5 off $30. Not great, but for shoppers already wanting a deal on groceries, it’s another $5. So, I’d say use judgment. 5% off a rubber stamp at a scrapbook store 3 miles off the beaten path would not fly with me. That was one I turned down several years ago.
But as it reads above, a coupon doesn’t become effective until it reaches a 40% discount.
The coupons I run also have a short fuse when it comes to expiration dates. The eye doctor gets about 30 days, but the other 2 are only 2 weeks. Typically, I set coupons like these to expire in 2 weeks and then we just change the date each week. If a consumer is going to use a coupon, a shorter expiration will help create urgency. A longer expiration date will encourage people to take more than one copy from the stands.
We make a commitment to every advertiser to make sure we keep our rates low and monitor our distribution. Once distribution grows, the rates will also have to grow. I have found a great balance between our rates and distribution, and that’s how we are able to keep the spaces full for a long time.
Lisa Shaw, email@example.com
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