In DIY Marketing: The Basics, we explored the foundation of creating an in-house, social media marketing strategy. We have then delved into a few specific media and explored their precise contributions to branding and marketing. In this article, we are stepping back from the media and focusing on a specific type of content: coupons and incentives.
There are a lot of stereotypes and stigmas around the words “coupon” and “incentive”: boosting sales, attempts to move slow products, buying attention, and clearing out the old to bring in the new. These views are all customer-facing, and to really see the power of coupons, you have to consider what coupons do for the organizations that make them, not just the users.
Coupons are an amazing branding tool
A strong brand has the power to pull attention, interest, and sales away from the competition, but building a brand takes time and effort. One of the best tools for helping speed up the branding process is a coupon.
Coupons can help with 5 different branding techniques:
- Encouraging new customers by providing easier access to products
2. Supporting return customers by targeting existing customers
3. Collecting feedback by making coupons rewards for data
4. Helping initiate success of new products into a saturated market
5. Acting as a loyalty or goodwill action to support a cause or retention
Each of these techniques is an interaction, not just a call-to-action. By taking the initiative as an organization and creating a coupon, you show your existing and potential customers your efforts to meet them part-way.
Most organizations have a product or service, set a price, and expect customers to see the value and pay for it. By standing out and creating coupons, your brand becomes more distinct and improve your business.
The options for incentives are endless
The traditional coupon is a dollar or percentage discount. In some cases, that may be the best option, but with a little imagination and strategy, there are many more options for incentivizing customers. We could never cover them all, but there are a few that show a lot of promise and are worth mentioning and detailing for you.
The most significant of these is the referral. One customer tells another customer in a one-on-one fashion about your brand or products in exchange for an incentive. This is different than a review or word-of-mouth, where the customer decides to do of their own accord.
Uber was highly successful with their refer-a-friend incentives, and Basecamp actually relies entirely on referrals and word-of-mouth. The CE industry could take this idea and reach out to licensees that complete courses and give them the option to refer that course to a friend or colleague for a coupon.
Second would be free on-purchase options. A customer purchases a product, and gets to choose from a variety of coupons or free gifts as a reward. The most successful versions of this are related to adding this option to higher-tier products.
Both Verizon and T-Mobile offer this incentive, where the purchase of a new phone or plan comes with a few optional free or discounted products or services from which to choose. For CE, you could apply this to bundle packages or higher-priced courses, and the “free” gifts could be a cheaper course. You could also provide something far more custom.
The final incentive deserving mention is Pay-It-Forward. This is a newer incentive approach that combines brand, charity, and anonymous referrals; one customer purchases, and is given the opportunity to help purchase part or all of a product for future customers. This is an under-utilized but highly effective incentive.
Coca Cola has an entire scholarship program funded by a pay-it-forward campaign, but the strategy can be applied anywhere. For the CE industry, you could ask established licensees (anyone who has renewed more than once) who finish a course to contribute a small amount towards the first renewal of new licensee.
Coupons are common-use in most households and for most industries
The global population is using coupons and incentives more than ever. We can even say that they have become part of the culture of spending today. Millions of people a day use coupons, and some 90% say that they make purchase decisions based on what is incentivised.
This means that, if you want to reach customers where they are and take action based on their habits, coupons should be a part of your marketing strategy. Not taking advantage of coupons is similar to not marketing with social media; you can choose to do it, but you’ll find you’re missing out on audiences and opportunities.
Also, don’t forget that coupons and incentives have many avenues of reach. You should be putting your coupons and incentives in the spaces that they are already looking for them:
- Social media (Facebook Offers, Pinterest board, Instagram posts)
- Specific coupon websites (Groupon, Zulily, Coupons, EBates)
- Your branded and associate websites
- Campaigns and communications (emails, newsletters, one-pagers)
You should also go a step further and research the activity your competition. If they are incentivizing certain types of products, they have a reason, and maybe you should too. If they are hosting incentives or coupons somewhere that has great exposure, consider hosting there.
By building your incentive strategy into your marketing and researching your customers and competition, your brand and sales will both see improvement!
Incentives in the education industry are on the rise
Education is not a common industry for incentives, mostly because it is seen as a necessity, and therefore something people would pay for regardless of the price. The truth is, education is a very viable industry for incentives.
There are individuals who spend money on degrees they will never use, either because the work isn’t there or the field is small. They would gladly accept incentives to make that education affordable so they can continue to study and improve their hiring chances.
The do-it-yourself culture is also huge today, and people are looking to inform themselves on topics outside their specialty. Making that more accessible can be very lucrative if the incentives are branded and/or marketed correctly.
For these reasons, a steady increase in education-related incentives have begun, and will continue. By incentivizing your educational courses and products, you could be ahead of the curve and capture market share that may have seemed out of reach, all thanks to coupons.