Do Advertising Vouchers Work?

To voucher or not to voucher? That is indeed the question.

Vouchers are a good way to see a direct return on your investment for placing a print advertisement in a newspaper, booklet, magazine or electronic publication…

But – and it’s a BIG but – you need to put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and think, would you cut out an advert and bring it into a business to redeem? And if so, what offer would motivate you to do so?

I’m guessing a 9.5% discount off a small coffee when a large coffee is bought only on a Monday between 4.46pm and 4.59pm (except public holidays, or school days, not during a month that ends in the letter R, and never on a full moon!) isn’t going to get you rushing to find the nearest pair of scissors.

Yes, big wig advertising reports will tell us that between 80 and 95% (depending on what report, in what country, in what year and time of the moon cycle) of all shoppers like and use vouchers, and that approximately 60% actively look for vouchers to save money.

There’s even reports that state that shoppers have recently stepped up their use of vouchers (when the going gets tough).

Supermarket shoppers in the US and UK wouldn’t dream of hitting the stores without their coupons, and since the GFC, coupons are not just for the economically challenged but also, for all.

Everyone wants to maximise his or her dollar and get a good deal. In fact, these days scoring a great bargain is a thing of pride, something to brag to their friends about.

When thinking about vouchers, shop-a-dockets and cut-outs from the local newspaper spring to mind. And in the last couple of years, digital vouchers have continued to gain in popularity.

When you read this type of information it can make some marketers and business owners think about offering a voucher whenever and wherever they can. Sure, why not? It’s a great way to see if your advertising is working, right?

But – and it’s a BIG but – consumers are not that inclined to cut out a voucher from a good-looking magazine (definitely worth keeping in mind).

Yes, vouchers are measurable and accountable. But – and it’s another BIG but – understand that the media delivering the coupon (be that a newspaper, tourism booklet, direct mail catalogue, electronic newsletter or magazine) has very little to do with the success of the response.

How’s that? Well, publishers simply deliver your voucher to a specific audience.

It’s up to you to determine what kind of offer will get the best response from that audience.

Ah, you see now… It’s all about the value of the offer. Remember the extremely un-tempting coffee discount?

You’ve got to make it a sensational offer, one that really screams value. Yes screams! Loud and proud!

If your brand voice doesn’t fit with screaming then maybe it doesn’t suit a heavy discount either. Just a thought.

Here are 11 things to consider if you are going to offer a voucher.

  1. 50% OFF is always going to beat 10% or 20%.
  2. Think about the value of the product or service. A percentage discount really only works when the value of the product or service is well known – like a fridge, or designer clothes. If the consumer doesn’t know that 25% OFF is equivalent to a $400 saving, then a percentage offer is useless.
  3. Sometimes a dollar value can make more sense–- $20 voucher, $100 voucher etc.
  4. Buy One/Get One Free (or for those who love a good acronym, a BOGOF) or Get 2 Free will always get people’s attention.
  5. Offer a money-can’t-buy experience, like a private tour, or a trial offer.
  6. Make the offer in the advertisement big, bold, hard to miss. Scream it!
  7. Don’t clutter or cram your advertisement. If it’s a voucher offer, then just focus on the offer and not everything else about your business.
  8. Don’t make the customer jump through unnecessary hoops to redeem the offer. Do you really need to make it only valid on a Monday? Really?
  9. Can the customer mention the offer or do they need to cut it out and remember to bring it in?
  10. Will you honour the offer after the use-by date?

But, and the final BIG but (yes, I like big buts and I cannot lie!) is, will your ideal customer be impressed by your offer, will it speak to them and stop them in their tracks?

Will your offer be one that they have to tell all their friends about at the next dinner party?

Will your offer make them feel awesome?