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Restaurant Marketing: How to Design Coupons and Offers that Work

Reach Over 1,000 customers for only $2.70

In this article, we deconstruct the elements of successful coupons and explain which fast food discounts work the best.

Great coupons are worth their weight in gold. From automotive, to fast food to plumbers, ice cream shops, and more, coupons are a known way to attract new customers and form new business relationships.

If you’ve never offered a coupon before, the idea can be stressful. Will the coupon work? Will I lose money? How much of a discount can I get away with? These are a few questions that may be swirling around in your head.

In this article, we’ll answer those questions by referencing what has helped our advertising partners succeed. We’ll go over the basics of coupon design and provide examples of coupon discounts in each category that have the highest rates of return.


What are the elements of a great coupon?

Every great coupon has a few basic elements:

  • Business name
  • Logo
  • Contact info
  • Offer
  • Terms and Conditions

First, every coupon should have the name of your business, and if it’s not obvious, a brief business title telling what your business does.

Like any advertisement, your coupon should provide contact information. It should clearly state your address, phone number, and possibly an email address.

Last but certainly not least the coupon should have a great offer.

Most advertisements will use a dotted line to surround the actual offer. This not only serves as a suggested perforation if people don’t want to keep the entire ad, but they also highlight the offer. Potential customers will associate dotted lines with coupons and discounts.

If desired, retailers should place terms and conditions in small print beneath the coupon. Expiration dates and “cannot be combined with any other offer” stipulations protect businesses from being taken advantage of by overzealous couponers.

After checking off the essential elements (Business name, title, contact info, offer, and conditions), businesses can consider overall design.

 Components of Great Coupon Design

Companies like Register Tape Network use a team of designers to ensure that coupons are attractive, focused, and have artwork that is consistent with the company’s personality.

A few elements of coupon design to keep in mind:

Bigger. Brighter. Bolder.  – This is the trifecta of any successful advertisement. Attention grabbing words, bolded buzzwords like “Free” and “Value” perform really well on coupons. Coupons are an opportunity to directly sell to clients. Save subtlety for other advertising mediums.

Consistent Colors – The best coupons use coordinating colors that match the company’s colors and brand personality. Psychologists have studied the implied meanings of different colors, which you can discover here. Although certainly not a science, certain businesses should stick to their color schemes for consistency.

Include a Logo – Coupons not only provide an incentive for new customers to visit your business, they also build stronger branding. Adding your company’s logo can strengthen brand recognition before they’re redeemed.

Now that you’ve designed a great coupon, it’s time to tackle the hardest part—the offer.

 How to Create a Coupon Offer for Your Restaurant

Creating the offer is perhaps the most important part of the coupon design process. As is the case with all advertising, people are interested in what the product can do for them and, most of all, how much money the coupon will save them.

The offer is what gives the coupon its value. “$5 off” instantly transforms your coupon ad into a five-dollar bill.

 How do I create a fast food offer that works?

First, look at where you want to see more traffic. Is it lunch? Dinner? A specific time of year? Let this inform your offer.

Also, keep in mind that coupons for your core products work the best. For example, McDonald’s would want to discount the products it’s most known for—burgers, nuggets, and French fries—to attract the most attention.

Then, decide on your discount. This part is tricky. You want a discount that attracts customers but doesn’t cut into profits. Fortunately, restaurants have profit margins that allow for the best coupon offers.

With fast food, free, money-off, and high percentage discounts work the best. Keep in mind that most shoppers hate doing math, so percentage discounts that require complicated calculations can be less valuable.

      RTN’s Most Successful Fast Food Offers:

  • $___ OFF any value meal 
  • Buy one ___ get one FREE 
  • Buy ___ and get ___ FREE 
  • Combo meal only $ ___ 
  • Buy one ___ get one ___ 1/2 OFF


Add-on items can bring huge profits to restaurants and small businesses. Try discounting your main offer but not the ”extras,” like drinks, alcohol, and dessert.  Making customers pay for their add-ons can be extremely profitable.

Remember: Coupons are investments. Coupons attract new customers who will likely return to your business. The return on investment extends beyond their first coupon.

Embolden Buzzwords. Words like Free, Off, Discount sell. On coupons they should be bold and bright.

 Ready to Begin Coupon Advertising?

Register Tape Network partners with thousands of retailers in 33 states and has helped several categories of businesses diversify their marketing to gain a stronger presence in their communities. Here are just a few notes from our many satisfied customers.

If you’re considering using register tape advertising to reach more customers and would like to talk to our representatives for a free consultation, click on the link below to get started.

Click here to get a customized proposal based on your individual needs and geography.

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