Coupons never left

So, I remember the ’80s… well, I should say, the late-80’s. After the recession, when life was good, the stock market was cool again, and coupons weren’t. We’ve had our ups and downs, but like a pendulum we, as a society, seem to find our center after swinging about. What has proven to be cool is saving money–the last few years has made that a necessity for many, and given the excuse to be frugal for most. Even if you’re not hurting, it’s okay to look for a real bargain. At the same time, the old channels of finding deals vaporized. Newspapers outlived their usefulness and eyeballs moved to greener pastures. The need, desire, and let’s face it, fun of finding a good deal has never left the human spirit. Let’s not forget that those deals aren’t out there to serve the common man, no, they exist to bring customers to businesses. The cheap TV at Wal-Mart brings in throngs of people who end up buying all kinds of stuff they didn’t plan to purchase. Even the concept of a loss-leader has matured and become more sophisticated. Now, we have social media…or whatever you want to call it. Groupon, Living Social, the rest, they have simply taken the concept of the coupon to a new level and put it where modern consumers will find it and take advantage. I was struck by a conversation I had earlier today with an old colleague who was shocked at how well some of her professional associates (think doctors) have been doing with online deals. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to us, however. Professional services, are like any other business. They rely on customers coming through the door and paying money for whatever they have on offer. Now we are faced with deals that are just too good to pass up, and once we are there we just might find something else we like, or someone we like, or a service that makes the transition from ‘want’ to ‘need’. Brilliant. I love a good marketing idea, and using the web to haul in customers with a real value is a win-win for a consumer driven society. The best service providers and retailers are making use of modern marketing tools, and the consumers with money to spend are finding them. Hail to the green stamp, hail to Wednesday coupon book (something found in old newspapers)–they have provided the foundation for today’s marketers to tap into that old human instinct to get a killer deal and grow a customer base. A great business, especially a new venture, would be foolish not to use every avenue to reach customers. It is important to remember, however, that those businesses that depend on the latest promotion to survive won’t…and that’s also nothing new.

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