The brand-sapping power of coupon books


Every month or so, I get a book of coupons in the mail. These come in a few flavors, but they have one thing in common: every business advertising in the coupon book is decidedly second-rate. In other words, they probably aren’t places you’d go to on your own, and it’s pretty clear they have to dangle big discount offers to get customers.

Therein lies the problem for advertisers: simply placing an ad in these coupon books says something to customers about your product. Perhaps you can’t earn new business based on quality or word of mouth, so you have to give out freebies to attract new customers. True or not, the very act of placing yourself in such bad company hurts the image of your brand and your products.

But aren’t coupons and discounts suddenly all the rage in today’s weak economy? Sure, there’s little denying that lots of consumers are looking for better deals. So it’s really the medium, not the concept, that needs work. Crappy coupon books that are filled with mediocre-looking businesses are probably not your best bet. Instead, look into placing your coupons on your website, or put them in the hands of existing customers to give their friends. The goal is to spread the word and bring in new business, using discounts if necessary. But you don’t want to look desperate in the process.