The Side Effects of Coupons

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

A couple of years ago my preferred office supply store embarked on a creative strategy to sell me more stuff. And it worked—for a while.

They started emailing me coupons that offered nice discountsif I spent about 50% more than what had been my typical historical purchase. Not wanting to pass up a good deal, I used their coupons, buying what I needed now and stocking up for the future.

If anyone were tracking the results of their marketing efforts on me, they would have been pleased; there was at least a 50 percent boost in my spending with them, likely more.

The problem was that my growing stock of office supplies would already cover me for the next several years. Aside from ink cartridges and batteries, I’m nicely provisioned.

I had enough printer paper, file folders, highlighters, paperclips, staplers, rubber bands, pens, and what not to last me a good long time. In fact, I don’t think I would needed to buy file folders or paperclips for the rest of my life.

So, after enticing me to increase my purchasing for a couple years, they were paying the price of that short-term gain. I was buying next to nothing.

When I received my $15 reward certificate, I had trouble finding anything I neededeven though it would be free! Of course, that just further forestalled me from actually buying something from them.

If you multiply my experience by the thousands of others who received similar coupon promotions, I suspect that corporate was scratching their collective heads over what happened; it wouldn’t surprise me if careers where made and lost over this whole ordeal.

The lesson to be learned is that a coupon today could result in a no-sale tomorrow.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Sticky Series books, including Sticky Customer ServiceSticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Leadership and Management featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

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