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5 Steps to Crowd-Pleasing Coupons

If you’re running an operation that’s not quite up to the national chain level, chances are you don’t have a home office mailing monthly coupons to hand out to your patrons, include in an email campaign, or pass out at trade shows. The leg work of creating the offer, and making sure you can afford it, is up to you.

Whether you run a small retail store, a day care center, teach music lessons or operate an accounting office, there’s always an opportunity to create a coupon that will entice your prospects and customers to start or continue doing business with you. However, creating the coupon and the offer isn’t always easy, and mistakes and omissions can be costly. Follow this coupon checklist to make sure you’ve got all your coupon specifics mapped out, and you’ll be well on your way to your next crowd-pleasing offer that your customers can’t wait to talk about!

1. Financials: Before you take the red marker to your price tags, take a magnifying glass to your books. Knowing what you can afford to discount is critical in making sure your coupon still has something in it for you. Even if you’ve hired a marketing team to help you creatively, the numbers are still up to you - the person who knows them the best.

2. Offer: Now that you’ve got your financial footwork in place, it’s time to create the offer. Coupons that play on upcoming holidays, seasons, store events, and/or past purchases are a great place to start. If you’re looking for something that will stand out against competitors, avoid these kinds of promotions and focus on something that’s unique to your business. Your anniversary, your new location, your new management team, your new products, your personal taste. After all, that’s why you’re in business, right?

3. Method: Your offer is solidified, and now it’s time to choose how you’re going to notify your customers. Are you attending a trade show and passing them out, stuffing shopping bags at the register, emailing your contacts or sending a direct mail piece? All of these methods are great for coupon distribution. The more points of contact, the better!

4. Design: No matter your method of contact, the design of your piece is a crucial component in how effective your coupon will be. If you’re using multiple channels to disseminate your coupon (and you should be!), make sure your design is cohesive and functions across each channel. That way, your customers and prospects will recognize your offer and remind themselves to check it out!

5. Fine Print: As with determining your financial flexibility, no one will know what fine print needs to be added to your coupon as well as you do. The expiration date, the ability to combine your coupon with another offer, the minimum and maximum purchase amounts, qualifying products and/or services, etc., all need to come from the person who best knows the business and the finances. Take your time hammering out the details, as failing to carefully create and include your fine print could wind up being very costly and overextending your budget.

Stick to this coupon creation checklist and make sure you don’t miss a beat in designing and advertising your next offer! Your employees, your customers and your business bank account will thank you!

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