Coupons are great for small businesses!

Coupons are a great small business promotional tool for many reasons.  First, coupons are ideally suited for both existing and prospective customers.  Some potential objectives may be to increase awareness of your business, generate traffic to your store or website, increase sales, especially during a slow season, or stimulate trial of a new product / service.  Second, unless you’re printing thousands, coupons are fairly inexpensive to print as they can be created in-house with desktop publishing software.   

Third, as the printer, you not only control the value of the coupon but also its lifespan.  You get to choose whether the coupon is offering a free product, a percentage discount, a volume discount, or the bearer will be given a gift with his/her purchase.  Fourth, while you can freely give them away or pay to have them distributed, there are endless ways to dispense.  Coupons can be directly mailed in various forms such as postcards or coupon books / decks, or within invoices.  Other options include distributing them within newspapers and magazines or from your website.  Or one may leave them on windshields, front doors, or counters. Lastly, you may attach them to a product of a current sale, i.e. Pizza Hut boxes, or include them within gift bags. 

The fifth reason is that coupons give your business an opportunity to establish alliances with other establishments within your shopping center or with a related product or service provider.  If you’re in the carpet cleaning business, perhaps a window cleaning operation could give away your coupons.  Or, if you’re in the dry cleaning industry, perhaps a shoe repair or small boutique might want to align with you.  And finally, your coupon can be made to look like a miniature version of your print advertisement.  By increasing exposure, prospects and customers are more likely to remember your business as you build familiarity. Plus, according to Jay Conrad Levinson, coupons can make an advertisement up to 26 percent more effective. 

In 2006, $331 billion worth of coupons were distributed and $2.6 billion were redeemed. 

  • Overall, in-store coupons garnered the highest redemption rate at 34 percent. 
  • Eighty-nine percent of 2006 coupons were distributed through newspapers in some form of an insert, and almost 93 percent of all 2006 coupons were sent directly to the home.
  • Two recent trends are shorter expiration dates and lower face value. 
  • Source: Donna L. Montaldo on and

I want to close this brief article by sharing three useful tips. 

  1. First make sure your coupon clearly states all your important contact information such as address, phone number, website, etc.  What good is the coupon if they don’t know where you’re located, can’t call you to find out your hours, or gather information about your specific product lines, service policies or warranty programs?
  2. Second, make sure your coupon is coded so you’ll know how and when it was distributed.  This information will be helping in determining the effectiveness of your attempt through tracking.  One coding method is to use a letter for the type of distribution, such as N for newspaper, R for other retailer, and M for mail.  By using numbers, you can track in what month they were distributed.
  3. Third, find out if your competitors are using coupons.  You’ll want to know how they distribute their coupons, what discount they’re offering, and how often are they distributed. 

If you would like to learn more about other low cost marketing efforts, please call Kate at 817-488-2761.  Our first hour long consultation is always free.