Competition customer retention Direct Marketing Lead generation Retail Reward programs Small Business Strategy

What are coupons for?

Saturday when I checked the mail, I found a coupon from Staples.

Two coupons, actually.

One of them was for $10 off a $25 purchase.

The other was for a sizable percentage off of Avery labels.


The coupon expired in six weeks, forcing the customer to take action.


TEN DOLLARS off of a $25 purchase seemed a bit extreme. As a consumer you love it, but as a business person I was stunned.

Here’s the dirty little secret about this coupon – it was for people in their loyalty (frequent buyer) program.

While it’s nice to give those folks (like me) a little bonus once in a while, keep in mind that coupons are intended to alter behavior. One example: To get you in the door of a business that doesn’t normally see you.

Yet this coupon gives loyal customers the discount, people who have already demonstrated that they will return again and again.

I can see both sides of it, but ….it certainly made me wonder.

Why am I here?

I went to Staples because I needed a big roll of bubble wrap for shipping. I would’ve bought it regardless. Instead, I took home the bubble wrap (discounted), a pack of pens (free) and a Diet Coke (free).

Do I feel more loyal to their store because of the coupon? Nope. I go there for certain things because I know they have them – and because Lisa the cashier has been there forever, is very nice and remembers my name even though I visit only a few times a year.

I do appreciate the ten bucks, but it makes me wonder…how are you keeping tabs with your most loyal customers?

When did you last ask them an important question? Do they know that you’re aware of how important they are to you?