Promoting Small Businesses with Coupons: Tips for Home Based Business Marketing that Doesn't Break the Budget
As people tighten their belts in today's tough economy, small businesses are definitely struggling to spend their shrinking marketing budgets as carefully as possible. Costly advertising ideas are being reevaluated by smart business owners to see if they really are worth the expense. One marketing idea for small business owners that has the potential to reap great financial rewards without requiring a big investment is the lowly coupon.
There are several types of coupons and they all are effective in certain situations. To decide which type of coupon is right for a specific business, a retail store owner should think about the shopping habits of customers and the mark up on products in the store. A service based business owner should think about how frequently customers utilize the business and whether he or she can afford to pay employees and cover overhead after a discount.
A discount coupon is one of the easiest coupon types to offer customers. These coupons allow customers to take advantage of services or merchandise at a reduced price and still allow the business owner to break even or make a slight profit. Craft stores tend to use discount coupons on a regular basis. Before issuing a discount coupon for his or her business, a smart owner will:
- Take a look at coupons offered by other stores. These coupons often have quite a bit of small print, since the store owners want to encourage customer spending without feeling as if they've been robbed. Usually, the coupons will say they are not valid on sale items or special value items and are limited to one per customer per visit.
- Consider doing a test run by mailing a special percentage off coupon to a group of loyal customers. This way, the store can work out snags with wording that isn't clear and cash register programming problems without having to deal with a large number of customers. Once things are running smoothly, the promotion can be rolled out to the rest of the local residents.
Coupons for Free Items
Most people love free things, so a coupon for a free item tends to get them excited. However, some people get too excited and want to get as many of a free item as they possibly can. This can make a small business promotion that isn't set up properly very costly. To be sure a freebie promotion is an effective small business marketing idea, the business owner should:
- Make sure the coupon clearly states that it is limited to one per person and that copies are void.
- Keep track of customers receiving the free item, so that staff members who are on different shifts can see that John Doe has already received his freebie.
- Never offer an online promotion for a free item without severely limiting the scope of the offer. The free coupon should state that it is while supplies last and should specify the number of free items available. Online promotions have the potential to bring in thousands of requests for freebies in a matter of days.
Whether the business owner is offering a coupon for a discount or for a free item, there is one final important tip he or she should keep in mind. The promotion was designed to get customers excited about the business and generate sales. Failing to honor a promotion or being less than pleasant to customers who use a coupon to obtain that one free or discounted item and don't buy additional products will turn the promotion into a public relations nightmare.