A voucher or discount ticket for saving money or to redeem for information on goods or services, a coupon is often used to entice consumers to try a new product or service. Coupons may be individual loose slips of paper of any size or may be incorporated into a print ad or flier or printed with other coupons on a single sheet of paper (with or without perforations so they can be separated for redemption).
Coupons are found in newspapers, in magazine ads, telephone books, special coupon books (such as a book of coupons for local restaurants and businesses sold to consumers), in direct mail packages, as part of a calendar, handed out individually or as part of a flier at trade shows or in stores, or even printed on the back of business cards.
- Coupons may be redeemed to save a few pennies or dollars off the sales price or to receive a free item or service (often in the form of buy one, get one free). "This coupon is good for 1 child's haircut" or "Redeem this coupon for $1.00 off your next purchase of $5.00 or more."
- A coupon may serve as a mail-in order form. "Mail in this coupon with your check or money order..."
- A coupon may serve as a mail-in inquiry form. "Mail in this coupon to receive more information on..."
Designing a CouponCoupons come in all shapes and sizes and colors. The principles of design that apply to any other document can apply to coupons. Designing a coupon is very much like designing a small space ad, especially if the coupon is a standalone piece and not part of a larger ad or flier. About.com Women in Business Guide Lahle Wolfe has advice on what to do and what not to do when designing coupons in Tips on How to Design Coupons to Attract More Customers.
- Coupons are often printed with a dotted or dashed line as a visual indicator that it is a coupon. It's not uncommon to see an icon of a pair of scissors to indicate that the coupon is to be cut out. Coupons in ads increase sales and the dashed line and/or scissors icon draws attention to the coupon in an ad.
- Coupons should clearly state the terms being offered (such as 10% discount on all copy services with coupon or $1.00 off when you buy 2 or more of Product X).
- If the offer has an expiration date, it should be stated on the coupon.
- It's a good practice to include the name of the company offering the coupon, even if it already appears in an accompanying ad or brochure because the coupon may become separated. An address is important if the coupon is being used as an order form or a mail-in request for additional information.
- Leave adequate room for the consumer to print their name and mailing address on mail-in coupon order or inquiry forms.
- If the coupon is intended to be cut out of a larger ad, placement along an outer edge or corner can make it easier to cut out.
- Consider using an image of the product. You can use a generic image if the coupon applies to multiple items. For example, this postcard/coupon uses repetition of a flower icon to get it's coupon message across. Guide Lahle Wolfe suggests,
"If your coupon is for a service, show an image of happy people or satisfied customers. Consumers respond better to images of people than they do to generic images of things."
- For the Business Owner (Offering Coupons): Tips for Creating Coupon Campaigns for Your Customers describes why and when a business might want to offer coupons.
- For the Consumer (Redeeming Coupons): How to Coupon Effectively provides a beginner's guide to couponing including where to find coupons, how to organized coupon collections, and how to save lots of money with couponing.