Will e-coupons make or break your small business?

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Will e-coupons make or break your small business?

istock_000013712464xsmall.jpg‘E-coupons’ – online coupons offering generous discounts (50% and more!) off  local goods and services, promoted by online coupon sites such as LivingSocial, WhyPay Full Price, Jump On It, Cudo, Spreets and I Love Coupons, and delivered to consumers’ inboxes via email and social media – are taking the world of retail by storm. Savvy shoppers are seeking out online coupons before making purchases, and small businesses are willing to almost give away their products and services in order to cash in on the huge volume of traffic e-coupons can direct their way.

So should your small business implement e-coupons as an element of your marketing strategy?   That depends.  Yes, e-coupons can drive volume and skyrocket your sales.  But they can also severely impact your profitability with negative margins and loss of control.  Start by examining the potential pros and cons and considering viable alternatives.  Then determine if e-coupons will be a profitable and sustainable marketing activity for your business.
3 e-coupon pros
1)    can exponentially expand consumer awareness of your brand, product or service
2)    can quickly and extensively capture new leads and grow your database
3)    can generate huge volumes of customers and sales.
3 e-coupon cons
1)    can reduce the perceived value of your brand, product or service
2)    can blow out your resources (Be aware!  Many small businesses get such enormous traffic that they are unable to fulfil them!)
3)    can cut your profitability (There’s little or no margin left once you apply the discount and give the coupon site their cut).
3 e-coupon alternatives
1)    Put a coupon on your own site – it’s more cost effective, and you maintain control.
2)    Use local print media, like the Redland City Bulletin, to promote print coupons.  Or use localised Facebook communities like Redlands – Buy Local to ‘shout out’ your business and your special offers and to attract local consumers.
3)    Promote product offers (not necessarily discounts) through other local online channels.  Place a banner advertisement on Redlandsdirectory.com.au or advertise on the Redland Chamber of Commerce website or in their enewsletter.

Sometimes e-coupons backfire because businesses haven’t assessed the impact of the coupons on their specific goals, and they haven’t considered the alternatives.  Although e-coupons are a ‘hot’ marketing activity at the moment, the alternatives can be less expensive and may provide a higher return on investment.  How can you decide if e-coupons are right for your business?

3 e-coupon decision making factors
1)    Will they help you achieve your specific goals? If your business is just starting out or you need an influx of NEW customers, e-coupons can be a great brand builder.  If your existing customers take up offers, e-coupons could just erode your profits and even alienate your loyal customers.
2)    Will they generate a high return on investment? E-coupons themselves can be a loss leader.  In order to make them profitable you need to ensure you can convert coupon customers into repeat business or upsell them to more profitable products or services.
3)    Will they support your brand image and convey your brand value? Will customers become loyal to the coupon sites themselves rather than to you?  Will they simply wait for the next best offer?  Will your existing customers become alienated by the cheap prices you offer to coupon site customers?  Carefully consider the impact of e-coupons on your brand before implementing them as an element of your marketing strategy.

Sustainable Marketing Services Australia helps businesses develop sustainable marketing strategies for long term growth by identifying the right marketing activities to get the best outcomes using resources most efficiently.  We can help you decide if e-coupons will potentially make or break your business.  If e-coupons are right for you, these tips can help you avoid the pitfalls that could jeopardise your success:
3 e-coupon tips
1)    Limit the number of e-coupons on offer
2)    Focus on upselling and incentivising repeat business so you have the opportunity to make a profit.
3)    Insist on stringent Terms and Conditions to protect yourself from the onslaught of business you might receive.

Consider ‘no repeat use’,’ only one coupon per household’, or ‘only available to the first x number of participants’.

Contact Sustainable Marketing at [email protected] or on 1300 699 085 for a FREE initial consultation to help you decide if e-coupons will make or break your business.

MAC_229_-_tweeny_tweeny Maria Anderson
Managing Director

T 07 3821 3939
M 0402 095 699

Sustainable Marketing Services
creating sustainable profits for growing business

Winner: 2010 Best Small Business
Redlands Coast Chamber of Commerce’s 19th Annual Business Achievement Awards

Winner: 2009 Best Emerging Business
Redlands Coast Chamber of Commerce’s 18th Annual Business Achievement Awards

Finalist: Environmental Sustainability in Business and Professional Services 2010 and 2009.



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