A coupon that is limited in both time and number (which then generates the need to respond quickly in order to take advantage of it) is what I think works well (think of some of those limited offer or time Groupon coupons – many are very successful). The actual item that is offered is kind of up to you, but I think that “limited time,” or “limited availability” coupons work best.
I hope that this helps.
I don’t care much for coupons in my business, and specials are meant to be limited time basis which isn’t how I run hings either. Discounts however I do get involved with. I offer 5% off to all firefighters, police, teachers, military, and veterans as a thank you for their service. I don’t offer it on a limited basis though, its all the time. Any other discounts are between me and the client and NOT publicized.
When I was setting up my business structure and setting my rates, I was asking the same question. A business collegue who was mentoring me along, asked me why I would discount my services. Am I giving them a discounted session? Does a doctor or dentist discount their services? Your worth what you ask for, he said. Just make sure its reasonable. That your rates are in line with others in your local area, that they cover your costs and that your services match your rates. I’ve never had a problem getting clients and I’ve never discounted my rates!