This Is A Marketer's Worst Nightmare?

She's in your neighborhood. You see watering her garden. She's the quintessential all-American, suburban, kid-toting, loving mom... and according to Ad Age, she is a marketer's worst nightmare.

So, what makes this otherwise very average woman make every marketer cringe and go running to their Excel spreadsheets?

One word: Coupons.

The Ad Age story focuses on one woman but she is in fact a microcosm of the thousands of "Coupon Moms" as they are being referred to, that were the main reason there have been strong double-digit quarterly increases since the recession started in late 2008, according to Nielsen.

So why is she and those like her a marketer's worst nightmare?

John Andrews, founder-CEO of Collective Bias...

"Many mom bloggers are extremely marketing-savvy, some much more than the brand managers. A direct impact of [coupon] bloggers is creating a new awareness about offers. I don't think that's dangerous to brands, but ... [marketers] need to get coupons to someone who has potential to convert into a loyalist, otherwise [they're] just giving away margin." 

"...marketers need to get coupons to someone who has potential to convert into a loyalist, otherwise [they're] just giving away margin."

And therein lies the proverbial Catch-22. As marketers you want to entice consumers to buy your product, use your service, etc. And using coupons is the tried-and-true method... that's not exactly rocket science.

But at what cost, to what lengths should a marketer/advertiser go to?

There are actually some phenomenal comments to this article that I want to share which speak directly to this...

"... the best time and use for coupons is to generate early brand awareness and get consumers to try a product or brand they haven't tried before. Once you get to a certain level of ubiquity and awareness, you can't be constantly running coupons or you're going to have this coupon subculture that adds nothing to your profits."

"... If the coupon proposition has too many restrictions, it can have a negative effect from disgruntled deal seekers blogging, tweeting and giving the business poor ratings. There are usually better ways to allocate marketing dollars."

"... Coupons are just weak marketing. Ever get a coupon from Apple or Nike or Volkswagen?"

And my favorite comment of all:

"... finally we are seeing the death knell of the laziest, most brand-eroding Marketing foolishness – the coupon. Soon lazy marketing directors won't be able to goose their bottom lines by dropping a cents-off coupon because EVERYONE else is dropping cent-off coupons, too. When discounting becomes ubiquitous, and when brand managers realize that all they're getting from the avalanche of coupons are lower margins, THEN MAYBE, just maybe, the long-term value of building a brand will find new believers and regain its rightful place from the clutches of the short-term thinkers. Oh, who am I kidding?"

This last comment summarizes the whole issue of coupons perfectly. It speaks to "lazy marketers" - you know who you are, and the need for true, and real brand building, the old fashioned way, not via the use of a coupon, a transparent attempt to "buy" loyalty.

Ok marketers... your turn.

What do you think of coupons?

Do you use them?

Do you use them wisely? (I realize that's a subjective question but figured what the hey, I'll ask it anyway.)

Source: Ad Age, Google Images