I've never been much of a coupon clipper, but I must admit, when someone gives me a coupon that has a cash value of $25 or more, it does get my attention. In fact, I've been known to become addicted to coupon shopping at a favorite clothing store.

Many small businesses don't bother to offer coupons. It can take a lot of thought to figure out a way to make more money by giving up money. This month's article explores ways to use coupons - particularly web-based coupons - to boost the bottom line for a business.
-- Doreen Jeffers


How is it that offering a discount can generate more revenue? A simple answer is increased sales volume. But will offering a coupon automatically generate more sales for a business? Not necessarily.

Don't just arbitrarily offer a coupon or discount. Think about what  you want out of it. Think through the customer's shopping patterns. How will the coupon be distributed? What kind of return can you expect? And make sure there is enough markup to absorb the coupon discount.
To some customers, coupons are irresistable - like free money. A well-designed coupon program can create loyal customers that come back periodically just to see what's new. When you are developing a coupon program, think about how your business can:
  1. Attract New Customers
  2. Reward Repeat Customers
  3. Send and Receive Business Among Power Partners
Cash-Value Coupons. Instead of offering a coupon for 20% off, why not offer $30 off a purchase of $150 or more? Customers don't have to figure out how much to spend, or how much the discount is really worth. The coupon is like cash in their wallets. And they may spend more because of the minimum purchase requirement.

Expiration Dates. An expiration date can spur the customer to spend money sooner. Some retailers make sure their customers have current coupons all the time. Before one expires, another is sent, reducing the sense of urgency. Another retailer may send coupons less frequently. If the coupon expires, we don't know when we'll get another one, so we make it a point to shop before the expiration date.

Reward for Purchase. This can be a great way to create loyal customers and generate repeat business. As a reward for a minimum purchase, give the customer a coupon for a future purchase, with specific start and end dates. Ideally, these dates would be timed to coincide with a new product shipment. When the customer makes the next purchase with the coupon, give them another one. (This has been known to create addictive shopping habits.)

Free Offers. For businesses that provide services, this might be a free consultation, reducing the risk for a new customer. Or maybe it's an eBook - something you wrote and put into PDF format - a $50 value as advertised on your web site. Perhaps it's a product - free wiper blades and 14-point checkup with the purchase of 4 new tires.

Related Product Coupons or Upsells. Try to get the customer to try something new. Offer a related product at a reduced price with minumum purchase. This is commonly used in online stores, but certainly is not limited to e-commerce.

Partner Coupons. Stimulate business among several companies by offering your partners' coupons. For example, if you are in a wedding services business, join other companies to offer coupons for anything an engaged couple might need. All participating companies can potentially get that customer's business.

So how does the web fit in? You can avoid print costs by putting coupons on your web site. Or, email them to customers who sign up for your e-newsletter. Online stores can offer virtual coupons by using coupon codes.

To find out how your web site can facilitate your coupon campaign, call iMarks at 303.979.0873.
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Web-Based Media Kits   Web Site Checkup   How did you hear about us?  
  If you are doing a lot of print advertising, it can be a pain to send out your logo at the appropriate resolution for each job. Consider putting a Media Kit on your web site. Agencies can download print-quality logos, photos, ad copy and other company media when they need it.

Find out more
  Is your web site up-to-date? Take a few minutes now to do a quick checkup:

Is the content current?
Are the forms working?
Are all links active?

Detailed Checklist
  Small businesses should be asking this question of every customer, but we often forget. Make it a point to find out where your customers heard about your business. You'll better understand where to spend your advertising dollars, and who is referring business to your company.  

Synergize! is a monthly email publication distributed by iMarks Web Solutions, LLC to clients, prospects and referral partners.