By now you know how to write coupon Headlines. And you know how important clarifying Subheads are to a deal. We’ve covered the fun crowd – the Boisterous “Let’s PARTAYYY!” Headline and the Responsible “Let’s Party Within Reason!” Subhead.
Now we have to meet the coupon curmudgeon – the Savings Party Bouncer. The stick-in-a-mud, turn-down-your stereo, get-off-my-lawn, goldfish from Cat In The Hat.
The Small Type.
Small Type takes the fun from the Headline and Subhead and sucks it all out, leaving only a vacuum of soul-wrenching legalese to protect you, the coupon issuer.
So you see, it’s not all bad.
Quick recap: A coupon is really a small piece of advertising, luring your customers into your store or to buy your product. And just like car commercials, a little bit of (re: a lot of) legal wording is needed to keep things in check. You’ll notice that coupons sometimes have a value printed on them. That’s because they really are worth something. They’re an IOU to retailers.
When it comes to Small Type (also known as “Customer Instructions”), big brands and companies need to add some restrictions, or they risk giving away a lot more than they planned. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but if you’re a large company, you most likely will have to have run it by Legal before publishing.
Some Small Type writing basics:
1. Don’t add too many restrictions. Like a Subhead that takes the exciting headline and waters it down to boredom or disappointment, don’t give your customers hope upon hope through Headline and Subhead only to kill the deal with the Small Type declaring the deal is only valid on the fourth Tuesday of the month that coincides with a full moon between 8:43PM and 8:45PM PT. If you’re going to go through the trouble, make it worthwhile and don’t add too many hoops for your customers to jump through.
2. But have enough rules so you don’t give everything away. At the very least (and sometimes, that’s really all you need), be sure to include the following information on your coupon Small Type: the coupon limits (ie “Limit one coupon per customer”), and the expiration date (even if it doesn’t expire, say so on the coupon). This not only helps the customer, it also helps your employees or cashiers who are receiving the deal.
3. But don’t go crazy with the Small Type. People are smart enough to know that an amazing offer with a novel of Small Type attached to it is one that can be passed up. Too many paragraphs of legalese may make them move on to a less complicated offer.
In a nutshell: restrict, but not too much. That’s the point of Small Type. It’s to keep the coupon frauders at bay and reward your saintly customers.
If you only put one restriction on your coupon, make it this: set limits! As the old story goes, a car manufacturer had a coupon placed in the Yellow Pages (remember those?), and one enterprising lady went around and collected hundreds of these coupons from neighbors and friends. Turns out, she got the car for free – the pesky small type failed to include the words “limit one coupon per customer”.
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