Consumers are always looking for a bargain. In today’s struggling economy, that is especially true. No one wants to pay full price for anything. So why not offer a coupon with a discount?

You may think of coupons as an old, ancient marketing technique that will soon fade away. But people still clip newspaper coupons, direct mail coupons remain popular, and coupons have moved to the Internet where they are regularly downloaded and printed. My home Internet service shows the top five search terms at the top of its home page and “online coupons” appeared there regularly as we approached Christmas.

Data from the Promotion Marketing Association’s Coupon Council indicates that 89 percent of consumers used coupons in 2007. Some experts believe that number was well over 90 percent in 2008.

In a recession people want to, and need to, save money. They pinch pennies. They seek good deals. So go ahead and give them a deal with a coupon. And make sure you offer a significant, compelling discount.

In your next newspaper ad, include a coupon for dollars off a furnace clean and check (or for an air conditioning system tune-up in the spring).

When you do your next direct mail campaign, insert a coupon for a percentage off equipment service or a replacement system.

And on your Website, post a coupon on your home page offering a discount on a maintenance agreement. Provide a substantial discount on the first year of service and emphasize the long-term value of a maintenance agreement to keep equipment operating at peak efficiency.

A coupon also allows you to directly track the effectiveness of your advertising and direct mail efforts. Every time someone uses a particular coupon you know how well that offer is working for you. And over time you can test different dollars off or percentage off coupon offers to determine which level brings you the greatest sales.

Take advantage of the promotional pull of coupons. Consumers look for them and use them. They want a discount. They want to save money.  Offer a coupon with an attractive discount and sell more of your products and services in these difficult times.

Before joining the editorial staff ofThe NEWSover 12 years ago, Greg Mazurkiewicz worked in public relations and advertising for more than 20 years. In this periodic series of articles, he will share some of his expertise in the field of marketing communications.

Publication date:01/05/2009