A new ebook discusses the ultimate question for alumni and advancement professionals: what product, service, or benefit can appeal to the greatest number of your alumni?  

(About a 2 minute read)

Start here:   Download Your eBook


Maybe it’s one of those unanswerable questions. Like “what is the secret to happiness” and “what really happened to Tony Soprano?”

For alumni and advancement professionals, the unanswerable question is: what product, service, or benefit can appeal to all your alumni?  

Considering the diversity of your alumni, like gender, ethnicity, education, income, background, religion, political persuasion etc., such a common denominator among all your alumni would be akin to finding the holy grail of alumni engagement programs.

It would drive all your alumni programming efforts by being the tool you can use to attract alumni. To get un-engaged alumni to care about being connected to their alumni organization.

By offering such a benefit that could meet an unfulfilled need of your alumni, you would instantly become relevant and more important in their lives. They would welcome your communications, like emails and phone calls.  They would be your advocate and sing your praises because you are helping them solve a difficult problem.  

Well, as much as I would like to have such a benefit, I don’t know of anything that exists with universal appeal.

But I do believe a benefit comes pretty close. 

It’s not a new concept, as organizations, clubs and groups offered this benefit to their constituents for over a century, in varying forms and with varying degrees of success.

You may laugh at its simplicity.

You may mock me for oversimplifying.

Yet I’ve done extensive research to identify why, throughout history, some organizations have succeeded and others have failed with this type of program.

What I’m talking about is coupons and discounts as a tool to attract and engage a constituency.

AAA Motor Club used their discounts with great success to build their organization, attracting and engaging millions of consumers with their “members-only” discounts.

AARP has use their network of discount to build their membership.  And the list goes on of supermarkets, airlines, membership groups, retailers, who use coupons and discounts as part of their acquisition strategy to get new people to pay attention to them.

Coca-cola was the first in the modern era to use coupons to grab the attention of consumers, and increase their market share. In the 1950s, supermarkets relied on Nielsen Clearing House to collect, warehouse and redeem billions of coupons each years. Discounts were at the heart of the popular S&H Green Stamp craze that swept the nation for nearly two decades in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Going back to the original question, if there ever was a benefit or product that could come close to appealing to all your alumni, I suggest it's discounts and coupons.

Why are discounts such a powerful and almost a universally appealing engagement and loyalty tool?

The reason is because all of your walking, talking, eating and breathing alumni, are consumers.  100% of them.  

As consumers, we all want to pay less for the things we consume. And we'll go out of our way to save a little money. And it’s not just people on the lower end of the economic spectrum. The fact is, 96% of American consumers use discounts or coupons in some form. And maybe it’s counter-intuitive, but the research indicates that 85% of consumers in the higher income brackets use discounts and coupons frequently.

I’ve found such a huge body of research on the matter of coupons and loyalty, but I won’t bore you with it all, except to share only a few snippets of data:

  • 92% of consumers used a coupon in 2016
  • 90% of customers have sought for a restaurant discounts at least once.
  • 89% of consumers identify price as the top factor affecting their purchase decisions.
  • 88% of all consumers and 91% of Millennials use paper coupons
  • 83% of shoppers have made an unplanned purchase based on a promotion/coupon


What’s the takeaway?

Do your own research and learn about effective discount programs, and how to use them to engage your alumni.

Whether you want to build your own discount program, and hire someone to do it, you need to know the types of discounts that truly engage, and those that are only cheap imitations.

Start by downloading this free ebook:  The Ultimate Guide to Alumni Discount Programs.

It’s the culmination of years of research into discount programs, why they work for some organizations and not for others. How to identify a good discount, and which discounts aren’t worth your time because your alumni will ignore them.

In full disclosure, I have a horse in this race, but it’s your choice to learn more about my horse or go another direction.

I’m okay with that. But why not inform yourself and make a decision based on data?

Start here:   Download Your eBook




Gary Toyn is a multi-published author, business writer and researcher. As an engagement & loyalty consultant for Access Development®, he blogs about alumni relations and advancement topics.


Topics: Alumni Relations & Engagement, institutional advancement, Customer Engagement, best practices

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For 25+ years Gary Toyn has helped organizations large and small improve their constituent/member acquisition, retention and engagement. He's a multi-published author, writer, and researcher.

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