effective local store marketing

Developing your own coupon book can drive consumer loyalty and cultivate a new customer base.

Growing up in Michigan, Iwas a part of a very prestigioushigh school baseball team—thePlymouth Canton Chiefs. Year inand year out, our team was highly rankedand continually vied for the state championship.Playing on this team was a signof prestige at the high school and carriedthe BMOC (Big Man on Campus) status.Imagine my shock and disbelief whenplayers had to help raise funds for theteam by selling yellow plastic tumblerswith a little bug design on the outside. The“prestige” was quickly tarnished as eachmember—armed with a tumbler sample setout to solicit unsuspecting moms in aneffort to raise funds for the team.

The project was flawed from the start.Each player would go up to a house intheir neighborhood and mothers had theprivileged honor of purchasing these tumblinggems in groups of six. The troublesstarted from there. First, we had to findpeople home. This wasn’t always an easytask as most parents were busy. Then, ifthey were home, we had to sell them onthe notion that they really needed thesetumblers—just look at the craftsmanship.Once in a while, we would actually makea sale. That’s where the fun began.

Each parent’s order would be addedto our list. The parents would have to putdown a deposit and then we would placeall our orders at once at the end of the sellingcycle. Each player had three weeks tosell the tumblers—and then it took fourweeks to process the orders. That meantthe parent that ordered the tumblers inweek one, had to wait nearly seven weeksto get their shipment. Once again, this wasa problem. With my father’s car filled tocapacity with cases of tumblers, I had tohead back out to my neighborhood anddeliver the goods. I navigated throughfinding the parents again, constantlyreminding them that they ordered thesetumblers a few months ago, deliveringtheir tumblers and collecting the balance.

Each player brought all of the moniesback to our coach. We collected a decentamount of money and then the pain set in.Collectively, I believe we raised more than$800 for our team one year—and thenwe had to pay for the tumblers—whichdepleted our money by 50%. After all theefforts, we netted only $400 for the team.

When I was at Little Caesars as wellas Clark Retail Enterprises, I rememberedthis experience as what not to do whendeveloping an effective coupon bookprogram. After having to raise sportsteamsfunds over the years, in addition tobeing asked to sponsor countless teamsthroughout my business career, I wanted asimple-to-execute, effective program thatbenefited both the teams and my company.This program’s goals included: easeof execution; reducing costs of sponsorshipfor the company; building the brandin your community; and being a moneymakerfor the teams. It achieved all four.

The following scenario works for yourcoupon book program whether you haveproprietary or vendor products to sell atyour stores. My company’s coupon bookoffered deep discounts to our customersthat provided savings above and beyondany of our other advertised specials. Wewould offer our own proprietary productsor sell pages to our vendors promotingtheir products. We always tried to haveenough discounts in the coupon book tocreate real customer value—at least $7.50in total savings.

After we assembled ourcoupon book and vendor commitments,we contacted communityorganizations and offered these books tothem for free. They in turn, would go outand sell these books for $1 per book andkeep 100% of the proceeds. Obviously,since we had kids selling these books, welimited our vendors to non-adult products(no alcohol, tobacco, etc.) Essentially,through this fundraising effort, we createda non-payrolled sales force! Annually, wewere able to distribute more than 750,000of these books in our communities.

Coupon books provided a greatopportunity for low-cost grassroots retailtie-ins with your community. Your brandcements itself with area organizations thatmake the community run and make yourbrand integral in their all-important fundraisingefforts.

Matthews is the founder and presidentof Gray Cat Enterprises,Inc., a strategic planningand marketingservices firm that specializesin helpingbusinesses grow in theconvenience and foodserviceretail industries.Matthews has 20 yearsof senior-level executive experience. To learnmore about Gray Cat Enterprises, please visitwww.graycatenterprises.com or contact him atjohn.matthews@graycatenterprises.com.


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