Marketing Ideas from Ross4Marketing

Why Bother With Coupons?

Working for a print marketing company with clients mostly in the restaurant industry, I am often asked about coupons…do coupons work? What offers should be used? Are they worth while? There are many opinions for and against coupons. Do people really use them? Is it worth the cost of the discount to the business owner? I say YES.


Of course, there is a certain amount of marketing psychology associated with coupon use. A recent article in Psychology Today1 studied shoppers’ behaviors and their coupon use. One conclusion is that coupons certainly have a psychological effect on shoppers. Surprisingly, they found that it’s not necessarily about saving money for some people. They concluded that the thrill of using a coupon and getting a better deal than other consumers was most important, and shoppers lose sight of the actual cost. The result: Regular coupon users often spend more for an item than those who don’t use coupons. This means that in the long run, the retailer is not necessarily losing money.

Psychology today also found that shoppers often spent significantly more money on each shopping trip. Since many shoppers have flexible budgets to begin with (or no budget at all) and make many purchases impulsively without prior planning, they tend to overspend. these shoppers are particularly likely to over-spend when they come across in-store coupons.

Current Coupon Landscape

A new study completed just last year, the 2K18 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report2 has some eye-opening statistics on printed coupons that just may surprise you!

Shoppers in today’s world have a variety of ways to make purchases and often switch between online and brick and mortar methods. With customers switching back and forth, it’s often difficult to get them to engage. This presents a new challenge to businesses and retailers that requires innovation to keep up with these shopper nuances, keeping consumers engaged and retention high.

There are different kinds of coupon offers, digital ones displayed on your phone that you use at checkout, those you print out at home, and those that you receive in the mail or with your newspaper, printed coupons.

According to the 2018 Valassis report, coupon usage has been growing over the last three years!

  • 84% Choose Stores By Discounts – According to the findings, more than two-thirds of shoppers will buy a product only if they have a coupon for it. This makes that product an added item.
  • 86% of the shoppers surveyed said coupons have influenced them to try a new product
  • 84% shoppers say coupons influence their store choices
  • 77% decide which store to shop based on where they can use paper coupons

Compared to two years ago, overall coupon use has increased from 90% in 2016 to 94% in 2018. This gain is seen as being driven my millennials’ penchant and frequency of coupon use. Surprisingly, it is being noted that many millennials are sensitive to coupon offers and actively seek them out, paper as well as digital versions.

Paper Coupon Use

A big takeaway from this report is that paper coupon use has grown the most! The best news is that paper coupon use is up 5% from 2017, which shows that coupons from direct mail and newspapers are a powerful marketing tool, and critical to consumers throughout their shopping experience. It should be noted as well that the use of mailed, printed coupons has increased the MOST year over year!

2018 Coupon Report Details

3 Valassis 2k18 Coupon Intelligence Report.

As a business owner, if you are trying to get foot traffic or more customers in the door, coupons and discounts are a reality. Discount offers in the form of coupons are a great way to attract new customers, promote a new product, offer a sample, or frequent buyer card. As part of a marketing campaign, they can be used to track responses and even different versions of ads by using unique codes.

Woman cutting coupons

No matter what shoppers are looking for, they are getting more savvy to looking for every modern advantage – to save time and money. It can be a direct mail postcard in the mail box, a savings app, an email, or a link to a digital circular. As a result, it is safe to say they’re always on the lookout for savings. For these shoppers, it’s a quest. As marketers, anticipating their behavior has never been more important to tailor campaigns that get noticed and get responses.

1 Psychology Today-

Is Direct Mail Still Effective?

Many of our customers ask us if direct mail is a good tool for their campaigns. We respond with a resounding YES! When it comes to effective marketing campaigns, direct mail continues to DELIVER. Postcards, menus and other forms of direct mail can hold their own with digital media! Digital media is now creating innovative new ways for direct mail to be more compelling than ever.

In truth, printed direct mail has never been more effective. Not only is it the most targeted of all mediums, according to DMA’s 2018 40th Edition Statistical Fact Book, response rates for House files jumped 37% and Prospect files almost 3 times from just a few years ago. Even Millennials who have a strong relationship with technology, love direct mail. As noted in the USPS Mail Moments Review, 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail and 64% would rather scan for useful information in the mail than email.

Direct mail has characteristics that digital advertising lacks. It’s like an active tap on the shoulder that online-only activities cannot duplicate…and it won’t get overlooked in a crowded inbox like email.

It is tactile, which according to Neuroscience research, the act of touching something, like direct mail, can trigger the “Endowment Effect” which is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them. You feel the paper in your fingers and hear the offer card separating from the piece. Websites and email cannot compare to this experience.

Adding direct mail to your contact strategy can mean higher response rates. According to a 2017 study by Merkle, Inc.1 Marketing campaigns that used direct mail and 1 or more digital media experienced 118% lift in response rate compared to using direct mail only.

Build your mail plan with direct mail as a component. Use email to pre-announce mailings or to remind customers of an expiring offer. Push traffic to your website for convenient ordering. Use QR codes or augmented reality to drive to your mobile sites. Tie in social media, using your catalog to promote the online presence. One channel should never replace the other, and all channels should work together to form a unified campaign.

If these reasons don’t convince you, consider this:

According to the research firm True Impact, a study comparing paper to digital found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media. Those that received direct mail were able to recall the brand 75% of the time vs. 44% for digital media. And unlike email, a direct mail package can stay in the home for weeks.

… a study comparing paper to digital found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media. Those that received direct mail were able to recall the brand 75% of the time vs. 44% for digital media.

Part of a multichannel marketing approach

Many businesses have adopted a multi-channel marketing approach, focusing only on the digital aspects of their campaign. Direct mail happens to fit perfectly within a communication stream that includes email, SMS, the web, DRTV and other elements.

A direct mail piece can play an active role in this process, serving as a launching point to the digital world through personalized URLs to a response microsite, QR 2D barcodes, and even including a removable offer card with a special code or offer.

It all comes down to the ROI and while email leads the way at 23%, Direct Mail is a close second and tied with Social Media at 17%. Mobile ROI is just 14%.1

These numbers really show that now more than ever, direct mail is a great marketing tool when combined with other activities. It is cost effective, and gives your business yet another way to connect with customers on a personal level.

1Merkle, Inc. 2Magnetic Attractions infographic

It’s not too late for Holiday Marketing

Holiday Sale Tags

If you haven’t thought about the 2016 holiday season yet, you still have time. It won’t be long before the official start of the holiday shopping season, but you can use these holiday marketing ideas any time before and during the holiday season. Holiday marketing can convert your holiday shoppers into spending more money, and encourage them to become more loyal to your business all year long. It does not need to be complicated or expensive.

Most consumers love the holidays, and they love a good deal. Give your customers a reason to visit your store or restaurant during the holiday season. Shoppers expect sales and discounts when considering what and where to purchase.

Type of Discounts

Holiday Sale Coupons

If you have a small business, limit your discounts to specific days, or specific hours. Research show that consumers prefer storewide discounts, which also may be easier to execute. If having a storewide discount doesn’t make sense for your small business, you can offer a free product with purchase, or a discount based on the amount purchased. You can also give a coupon that can be redeemed after a future date.

Shoppers expect sales and discounts when considering what and where to purchase.

How to Advertise your Discounts

Traditional advertising such as Television and Radio advertisements can be expensive, so here are a few ways to avoid large expenses.

  1. Advertise your discounts in the local/ neighborhood newspaper.
  2. Send out a mailer to your customer database, or saturate the area within 2 miles of your business.
  3. Announce the discount on social media.
  4. Hang a banner outside and if possible use sidewalk signs.
  5. Use your windows to advertise; put up posters or window clings.
  6. Handout flyers at your business and surrounding businesses.

Take advantage of this busy season, by marketing coming events or sales. Give your customers offers that can be redeemed in 2017.


Winter Shopping Window Decal

Lower your marketing expenses by partnering with other local businesses in your area. Partnerships with other local businesses will spread awareness about your business to a new audience of highly qualified buyers. You can simply agree to give out coupons, brochures and flyers to each other’s clients, or you can partner on special holiday packages, combining your products/services.

Partner with your vendors and suppliers. For retailers, they may be willing to put on trunk show, or send an expert to your store to provide demos. Food and beverage suppliers may offer you discounted products, that you can pass on to your customers.


Holiday Store Purchase

Building loyalty can be as simple as a thank you. Customers like to be recognized and thanked for their business. As an owner or manager, take the time to introduce yourself, and say thanks. During the holiday season, you can take that a step further, and hand out a holiday card or a coupon with a special offer.

Building a loyalty program does not require an expensive platform. Grow any database of addresses, email addresses or mobile phone numbers, by simply asking, or offer an on the spot discount for joining your loyalty program. Texting or emailing offers throughout the year will build customer loyalty. Ask your customers to like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram. Use any of the many social platforms to offer short term specials, and keep in touch with your customer base.

In Conclusion

Holiday marketing is important for any business. It is a long season, starting with Black Friday and continuing through New Year’s Day. You can start your marketing effort with very little lead time. Discounts and Partnerships are simple and easy ways to end your year with record sales. Remember your loyal customers and make sure you keep them coming back throughout the coming year. Have fun, and enjoy this profitable season!

Marketing Ideas