Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coupons, Discounts and Freebies; What you need to know when cutting your customers a deal

I love a deal. With inspiration from TLCs Extreme Couponing show I've ramped up my discount hunting, hijacked my husbands old baseball card binder and replaced rookie cards with sleeves and sleeves (and sleeves) of coupons.

Since I have a child about to enter Kindergarten my name must have been added to a list that caters to moms with school-aged children. In my mailbox I received what seemed too good to be true: a gift card equaling $20 CASH to Sports Authority.  The card had qualifying dates and could not be used towards clearance items.  After reading all the fine print I realized I was about to go shopping!

Critics of extreme couponing will say that folks get sucked into the frenzy of saving money and start to purchase things that they don't even need. For example, on one episode I saw a woman walk out of the store with a grocery cart full of FREE pet food after utilizing her coupons (she didn't have any pets).  Yes, this is extreme.  Is it wasteful?  Well, lucky for a local pet shelter, the extreme couponer in mention donated the goods.

I don't usually shop at Sports Authority. Probably only been inside a handful of times.  But to spend free money?  I was in.  My goal was to try to find something useful to me or my family that we needed.  This summer I started working out with a personal trainer and I was graduating up from my 3 & 5 lb weights and needing 8lbs. Great! Now I knew exactly what to spend my cash-card on.  Off to shop...

Screech!  (that was the sound of my shopping cart slamming to a complete stop).  While Sports Authority did a great job of getting an infrequent customer through their doors, they solidified that I probably won't ever go back.
    Sports Authority 8lb weights                     Target 10lb weights                   
       $    29.99/pair                                     $13.99/pair

What's wrong with this picture?  For heavier weights in Target I could spend $16 less?  Needless to say, I did not purchase the weights in SA.  I shopped the sale racks and walked out with two T shirts using up $18 out of $20 allotted from my free cash card.  Then I bolted over to Target to purchase my weights.

A few things to keep in mind when you are looking to offer coupons, discounts, freebies to your customers:

  • Do your research.  Offering discounts to infrequent customers is a sure way to get them through the door, but if the experience isn't stellar once you have them, they aren't going to come back.  And you've just operated at a loss.
  • Know who your customers are.  Not many Kinder-gardeners need major sports equipment at age 5, but I do commend SA for trying to establish us as a repeat customer at an early stage.  
  • Don't give away the farm.  I still can't believe that I received a coupon that was equivalent to $20 in cash.  Yes, it got me through the door, but would I also have gone in for $10 free cash?  Quite possibly.  Should a higher cash-value be reserved for loyal customers?  I'd love to review the strategy behind this direct marketing execution and especially, the redemption results and number of repeat customers it created.
  • Ensure your employees know how to redeem the discount.  My order needed to be run twice because the poor kid didn't know how to process the cash-card.  It also seemed like the manager was going to hand me $2 cash since I didn't spend the full $20 until she did a double take and realized that they don't refund customers on coupons.

If I had discovered value and great service once I was engaged, would I have beelined back for soccer cleats and shin guards this fall? Maybe...At least after I checked to see if I could get what I needed at Target.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Nadia Gray, Boxing4Fitness

Hoping that all of my US readers enjoyed their 4th of July.  This year was a special one for us. We enjoyed some travel to witness our friends get married, then we continued the celebration when we arrived home to honor my son's first birthday.  Everything about our boy was worth waiting for and we can't believe he's 1.  In the month of July SleeveShirt Consulting looks outside of the US to celebrate a woman entrepreneur that I've come to know and be inspired by.  We hope you enjoy meeting Nadia Gray, the owner and founder of Boxing4Fitness!

Tell us a little about how Boxing4Fitness was born. After having my daughter 3 years ago I decided it was time to get back into the fitness industry but wasn't totally sure in what direction I was going to go. I started to get a lot of feedback from people saying how much they love the 'boxing' part of their personal training sessions, they felt they wished it were included for longer during the sessions. I too love boxing so went off to get further qualifications to teach adults and children boxing techniques for fitness.

What are the main goals your clients have when joining Boxing for Fitness?
My clients are looking to lose weight, gain strength and to feel good about themselves.

How is Boxing different and/or better than other cardio programs? I don't overload my sessions with the whole 'mixed bag'. Instead of doing bits of cardio, weight training, pilates, yoga, or running etc Boxing 4 fitness is directed 90% of the time on glove technique and pad/bag work. Sprints of cardio circuits are added to help improve fitness and strength. Anyone can do it regardless of age, weight or fitness level.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneurThe excitement of watching my idea grow from the ground up and having people embrace it with open arms. I love being able to connect with others and always looking for ways to improve and cater to the needs of the client/community. Every day is always different and serves up its challenges whilst being so rewarding.

How do you stay motivated? I absolutely love it when I see my clients achieving what they thought was impossible. To see them go from strength to strength in such a short time, gives me such buzz. Knowing that I am helping them in such a positive and empowering way is what keeps me motivated and wanting to do more. 

What is your advice for females who are thinking about starting their own business? Always ask other business owners for advice or support and learn from the ones that have paved the path before you. Never be afraid to ask for help and don't expect that everything has to be handled by you. So many people/resources are out there to help you along the way to make life easier. Also never give up, keep moving forward one step at a time.  Join a social network, blog, forums anything else to get your name out which will help you to make some great contacts.

To get in touch with Nadia Gray, or to learn more about Boxing4Fitness, please visit 
www.boxing4fitness.net, email her at boxing4fitness@hotmail.com.au or Fan her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/boxing4fitness