Smarter Couponing: Getting Behind the Counter

Access Vice President of Partnership Marketing Dave Bona oversees the development and maintenance of the nation’s largest private discount network, featuring over 300,000 merchants. We asked Dave to chime in with his thoughts on coupons and how the practice is changing for merchants. Be sure to catch the first article, "Why Coupons are Here to Stay."

Smarter couponing begins with smarter marketers. Many small business owners aren’t marketers, so they trust details such as a coupon strategy to outsiders, many of whom have only one goal: maximize transactions, margins be damned.

What almost all of these specialists fail to do is place themselves behind the counter, in the position of the owner, manager, cook, sales associate, and everyone else whose lives depend on the success of the business.

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The people behind the counter know which night of the week has the least amount of foot traffic, which dishes are ordered the least, which ingredients are the most expensive and other factors that should be considered when arranging a coupon campaign.

A poorly crafted coupon with a deep discount for everyone looks great for the marketer that landed it and will likely bring in a crowd, but it may not help the merchant move more wool socks or inspire folks to come in on notoriously slow Tuesday evenings - in other words, the actions that really make a difference in the margins.

Managers and marketers need to work together on the process. Both sides need to recognize the shortcomings and opportunities a business possesses and then determine whether or not a coupon can help shore those up. That coupon may take the shape of a deep discount available to the general public, or it may not. What's important is that it's approached strategically with specific goals in mind.

Blindly jumping into a deal is what creates business horror stories and fuels much of the anti-coupon sentiment (and these stories are definitely not limited to just daily deals). The blame doesn’t lie with the coupon itself; it lies with a lack of understanding and strategy on the part of both merchants and marketers.

Check out Part III: The Six Factors of a Successful Coupon Campaign.

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Topics: Mobile Coupons, customer loyalty

Written by: Dave Bona

Dave Bona is the Vice President of Partnership Marketing at Access Development. He oversees the company's relationships with over 300,000 local and national merchants - the largest private discount network in the nation.

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