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Using coupons could increase sales and service

“I have a coupon for 10 percent off, so we better shop there today,” my wife frequently tells me.

Perhaps it’s the result of the Great Recession. Or, maybe, we’re just becoming bargain hunters. Whatever the reason, it seems like we’ve joined the society of coupon clippers. So it seems logical to ask if should coupons be part of a dealer’s marketing plan?

I admit I was not really familiar with the extent of coupon use these days. But it’s far bigger than I imagined. In surveys conducted by Linkable Networks Inc., a company that converts media ads into linked offers, a whopping 95 percent of the respondents said they would definitely use coupons while 73 percent revealed they actually do use coupons at least a couple of times per month. The question, then, isn’t whether people will look for and use coupons these days, but how do they get them?

The answer depends on who we’re talking about. The study found that, overall, 78 percent of those surveyed clipped coupons from the Sunday newspapers. But 61 percent of these respondents also indicated they use digital coupons, a couponing vehicle that’s seen rapid recent growth. It’s also notable that age is a factor. For example, 85 percent of those aged 45 and up cited clipping from newspapers, while 69 percent in the 18-to-44 age bracket said they go digital, searching websites or seeking coupons on their mobile devices.

According to eMarketer, while coupons delivered by print media are still used the most, this year more than half of U.S. adult Internet users are predicted to redeem digital coupons. That’s 102.5 million people who will use the coupons for both online and offline shopping. More specifically, there will be an 11 percent increase in coupon use and it will be mainly driven by the digital-coupons audience using mobile devices.

For marine dealers, then, the use of coupons could be worth some effort. Sending out coupons in mailers (like Christmas cards) or including them in ads is an option. However, given our boating customer base and the fact that they’re tech savvy carriers of iPads and smartphones, generating digital coupons seems to fit the bill best. The offers can range widely from discounts on accessories to special service deals. They can be sent often. And they can take a couple of different forms.

First, the simple straight discount deal (i.e. 15 percent off this item or that service with this coupon, etc.) Second, the big-discount-for-cash-now deal (i.e. Buy a $500 spring tune-up for $250 today).

For every deal, time limits and qualifications must be spelled out. For a straight discount coupon, a short expiration date should be stated. For the big discount style deal, the time to purchase the coupon is usually very short and the coupon must be used by a set date, albeit the customer never loses credit for the amount already paid even if the coupon doesn’t get used until after the deadline.

With the information technology we have in our dealership today (computers, websites, e-newsletters, customer and prospect email lists), driving more business by using coupons anytime has never been easier to do.

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