Avoid Coupons in Print Advertisements. True or False?

True or False. Using Coupons in print or space advertising should be avoided because they inhibit  compelling graphics and waste precious space for more effective copy.

The answer. False.

After numerous battle scars from general advertising agencies on this issue, it has almost become emotional. Creative teams who do not count their success based on quantifiable results despise coupons. And when they are forced to make one, they do everything they can to disguise it. The coupon becomes a wave or some other contorted design that looks good to the eye and draws as little attention to itself as possible.

It would seem that in these days of 800 numbers and urls that the coupon graphic would go the way of the dinosaur. Not so.

For some reason, a coupon that looks like a coupon shouts out to the readers saying, "Respond to me!"
I readily grant that such coupons are not attractive and divert the eye to the coupon. But that is the point! This is the focal point. We are not attempting to build awareness with direct response advertisements. We are not even attempting to make major contributions to the brand.

We are trying to get the reader to respond to the offer!

Nothing should dilute this objective with strange slanted designs or other permutations to make it more palatable to the art director or the internal brand people. This is not an effort to win awards. Getting response is the driving force.
Keep the coupon a coupon that makes the offer and asks the prospects for their contact information even if you don’t expect any write-ins.

If I've done nothing else but prompt you to at least test a persuasive coupon with a strong coupon headline, then I have succeeded.

Do your test results validate or contradict this?

Posted on July 7, 2008 .