On Brand Promises.

On Brand Promises.

The Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon is so ubiquitous that one of the mailers was even found by FBI agents in the junk drawer of notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger. 

Comedians and television shows make fun of the coupon and I’ve done a fair amount of my own ribbing of the brand. At peak circulation, over a billion coupons were mailed per year. Nearly everyone has seen one of these or has one in their stack of mail at home. Many consumers keep them in their cars and purses, waiting to use them.

But did you know? The brand started in 1971 as a single store in New Jersey, Bed ’n Bath, selling sheets and towels “at prices low enough that people didn’t have to wait around for a semiannual department store sale.” 

Founders, Leonard Feinstein and Warren Eisenberg didn’t want to operate their stores like everyone else. “We didn’t want to change prices and run sales. That’s a very costly way of doing business,” they said, “We didn’t want to advertise items and instead just told the customer that we’ll give you a discount on the item you want – and not the one that we want to put on sale.”

So, they mailed a coupon and it was a lot cheaper. 

But, the brilliance in Bed Bath and Beyond is in merchandising. They have so much stuff that you never knew existed and they rotate it through the isles, entry, end caps and checkout lanes, when you go to the store with your 20 percent off coupon to buy a certain item, you walk out with a bunch of stuff that you didn’t know you needed or even wanted. 

While I’ve been extremely cautious in teaching orthodontists to use promotional offers and the cadence of those offers, and while I’ve always prefaced that the magic happens behind the scenes with conversion and referrals, the pediatric dentists and restorative dentists in my seminars should be in the routine habit of offering something irresistible to get consumers off the couch and into their offices, so that they can experience the brand, establish trust and confidence in your practice and say yes to what they really need, not what brought them through your doors in the first place.

Bed Bath and Beyond’s 20 percent off coupon has become the brand promise. They couldn’t kill it off even if they wanted to (and they don’t). What promises does your practice make, like “braces without missing work or school, guaranteed” that you could’t get rid of, even if you wanted to? 

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.