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Boost Your Economy – Create a Couponomy!

Profitable ways to use coupons.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (April 5, 2010)

Whenever we’re out of town and have a few hours to spare, Georganne likes to go shopping. Ask her why and she’s likely to tell you that even though she has more than enough clothes for the trip, she just doesn’t have anything she wants to be seen in. And besides, there’s always the chance that the out-of-town stores will be full of all the wonderful things she can’t find at home. This is a chick thing – if you’re a woman you’re probably nodding your head in agreement right now. Given the choice between time at the mall or something else, Rich, like most guys, almost always opts for the something else.

The Savings Pass 

We were speaking in New York City, and Georganne had big plans to visit her favorite department store. This particular store is famous for its coupon sales. Customers receive coupons via email blasts and direct mail; they are also part of the store’s newspaper ads, so they are readily available. Regardless of how you receive the coupon, you get the same deal: an extra 15% off your purchase price – regular priced and sale merchandise. It’s a great deal, but the best part is that you get to decide what’s on sale. 

Georganne happened to be in the sportswear department when she saw a woman, arms piled with apparel, approach the cash wrap. The sales associate rang up the sale – it was well over a thousand dollars – and asked the customer if she had her coupon. The customers dug around in her purse, but couldn’t find it. She said she must have left it at home and then asked if the associate had one she could use. No dice. The associate didn’t have an extra coupon but she did suggest that the shopper might go home to get hers. 

This customer was looking at a $150 discount and she wasn’t about to go all the way home to get a coupon and drive back to the store. Now, a man looking at saving $150 thinks, “Great! I can save $150,” but this woman was thinking, “Great! I saved 150 bucks – now I can buy shoes! But wait; I can’t because I forgot my coupon!” So she did what any red-blooded, card-carrying female member of the human race would do – she turned away from the cash wrap and hollered, “Hey! Does anyone have a coupon I can use?” Five other customers offered theirs, the associate completed the transaction, and the customer went on her merry way to spend what she saved in another part of the store. 

This was a generic coupon that was good for as many purchases as you want to make, and it was valid for a number of days, so what’s the big deal? Why didn’t the store have extras on hand for customers who don’t have one, or forgot to bring their own? 

The Couponless Customer

Bill Gardner shared a similar experience in another famous, and equally prestigious, department store. As he waited in line to pay for his purchase, he watched customer, after couponless customer, lose out on the deal. Bill didn’t have a coupon either, but he was lucky enough to get a sales associate who kept an extra one in his pocket for customers who didn’t have one of their own. He said to Bill, “Why lose a sale and alienate a customer when I can make a friend?” No kidding. 

Here’s the deal: Want to build foot traffic and increase sales in a short period of time? Run a “Create Your Own Coupon Event” and let the customer decide what’s on sale. If you don’t want the coupon to apply to certain merchandise, no problem, you can add a disclaimer making certain product non-eligible for the discount. 

And if you want to infuriate customers, tell those who don’t have a coupon, “Sorry, you don’t have a coupon so you don’t get the discount. Here’s how much you would have saved today.” Then sit back and watch the fireworks. See, the goal is to build strong relationships with customers and positive word of mouth – the best advertising, and the kind money can’t buy. If you blatantly make some customers feel less important than other customers, they’ll be out the door so fast it’ll make your head spin. And they won’t be back. 

All Customers Want To Save 

Now, we know what some of you are thinking: how can we make it special for really loyal customers if we don’t reinforce the fact that you must have a coupon in order to save? Won’t that irritate those customers who have one? Maybe, but if the coupon is not readily available to anyone, like the famous departments store’s, understand that your loyal customers won’t mind, but the couponless customers will. In addition to thinking they are paying too much, they’ll think you just don’t care about them or their business. 

So, any time you run a coupon event, make sure that you have plenty of extras available for customers who don’t have one, or keep a master at the cash wrap. Hang signs in the window and throughout the store that read, “If you don’t have a coupon, we’ll find one for you! Every customer is special at (Insert your store name here)!” 

In-store events should be viewed as an opportunity to attract new customers as well as thrill those who already know and love your store. Every one of your customers wishes she could tell you what to put on sale, so why not let her? A Create-Your-Own-Coupon Sale has been known to pull a response as much as six times greater than a normal coupon promotion. Drop us an email and we’ll send you our Create-Your-Own-Coupon Event that includes all the how-to information, plus a template that you can easily customize for your own store. 

Boost your economy – create a Couponomy! 

(Note: Rich & Georganne will be the keynote speakers at the NAMTA show, April 15, in Indianapolis. The topic: "Retail Revolution: Straight Forward Solutions for Uncertain Times." For more info, visit www.artmaterialsworld.com or call 704-892-6244. To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.) 

KIZER & BENDER Speaking! 

Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design

103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174
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