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Coupons may help attract tourists

Posted April 25, 2010, at 7:48 p.m.

In earlier columns on converting tourist center visitors into clients, I covered the cost involved to have brochures distributed at the Maine Visitor Informational Centers, creating rack card distribution campaigns based on the three tourist subseasons, and how to allocate brochure distribution to the different Maine Visitor Informational Centers.

Now here’s a marketing strategy: Run a multiseasonal brochure-rack card campaign using discount coupons and tear-off specials. Distribute to the Maine Visitor Information Centers, placing the perforated tear-off coupon on the top of the brochure-rack card so it’s the first thing a vacationer will see.

Order rack cards that have tear-offs or what they call in the printing business perforation tabs. I prefer a rack card that has the perforation at the top rather than the bottom. The idea is to advertise a coupon or discount special and add this onto the coupon or in the tear-off area.

Most marketers will add the coupon to the bottom of the rack card. This is a mistake in my view. Remember, visitors in the centers are scanning the tops of the rack cards, making a 1- or 2-second glance, then turning to the next offering. The visitors in the center will view the coupon and see the discount immediately.

Create an offering that entices the visitor to want to pick up your brochure, take it with them, then force them to make a buying decision with your business in favor. An offering can be a discount off your product for the first 100 visitors, a dollar discount or percentage off your product for using the coupon (add a coupon code for tracking purposes), two-for-one deals or buy one get one free.

Change offerings in each of the three campaigns to adjust to the subseasons, as I am sure that prices fluctuate as the tourist season goes forward. (In a recent column, I discussed creating multiple campaigns based on the three subseasons). At the end of the tourist season in November, you’ll know what offer worked better over the others, so in the second year you can adjust and implement the offer that generated the most sales into all subseason offers.

You can become creative here and try different types of print campaigns. The bottom line is results in any way they come.

Another idea would be to have a different offering at each center. The May-June early season campaign would have three rack cards, one for each center.

Millions of visitors will be coming to Maine in 2010. The bottom line is that to get out in front of the crowd, your business needs to be different from everyone else. Your coupon-generated rack card will get attention and separate your business from most of the others that will continue to print up the same brochure year after year.

Travelers in this value-driven economy are looking for deals, specials and discounts. The coupon rack card in 2010 may be your best strategy to acquire sales from tourists this season.

Matt Zito offers marketing advice to travel and tourism businesses and lodging properties through marketing reports and business consulting. For information, go to www.mattzito.com. Readers may e-mail travel and tourism marketing questions to mdz@mattzito.com.

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