The Dirt on Discounts

Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Dirt on Discounts

It’s a common practice for businesses trying to get people in the door: send out coupons!

I think coupons and discount offers are a great way to bring in new customers, but BEWARE! Sometimes you can be overzealous in attempting to seal a deal, and you end up losing money.

Here are some things to consider when you’re putting together a special offer:

Put a lid on it! Have a limited run – maybe you only print 1000 coupons to hand out (or, if you’re marketing on the web, advertise that there are only 100 special offers left!). Make sure all coupons have an expiration date, usually two months from the release of the coupon.

Hit the sweet spot. A 10% discount usually isn’t a big draw – that’s barely over sales tax! But a 70% discount, or “buy 1 get 2 free”, costs you money. Consider what you’re willing to give up to bring people in… 20-50% off, or buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) are better, more realistic deals.

Give the goods to newbies. If you’re focusing on drawing NEW business, offer the “sweet deal” to first-timers only! Your “regulars” will return anyway – maybe work out a small reward system for them (punch cards, like “buy 7 and the 8th one is free” are great for this).

Call them to action. Use language on your coupon or ad that directs the new client to: call today! act today! buy one now! Your offer should be: limited time! for new customers only! exclusive! Don’t be passive – make sure people want to use the coupon as soon as they see it.

Make it trackable. It’s important to know how & where your coupons are being used. DON’T FORGET to make presenting the coupon part of the offer (i.e. they don’t get the deal if they don’t have the coupon in hand).

Try different things. Focusing on one deal at a time limits you! Try a few different offers, in a few different markets, across different media (one for the paper, one for the web, etc.) to see what works best on your target market(s).

Use the web wisely. If you’re already promoting your business on Facebook or Twitter, you have a perfect platform to launch a special deal. Since these are social networks, the users who see your page are probably already customers, so turn this promotion into a referral-based rewards program (think: “bring a friend and you both get 1/2 off!”) – that way, you’re encouraging existing customers to help market your business! There are other sites where “social-couponing” is available – Groupon and LivingSocial, among others – but tread carefully: these sites do charge you for their services, so don’t make your discount so steep that you can’t justify the cost of marketing. You can reach a large number of people with Groupon, so be sure your business is ready for a larger volume of customers.

As with every marketing promotion, you might not see immediate results. Give your coupon(s) a month or two to marinate and make their way back to you. If you’ve got a competitive, trackable deal, you should see new client business increase within about 6 weeks.

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