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Smartphone usage
With smartphone penetration hovering around 40 percent and with another estimated 10 percent gain for the end of this year, consumers are poised to receive mobile coupons in a massive way. Additionally, while mobile coupons only represent a small share of digital coupons, they have enormous potential to become the couponing medium of choice in the near future. Because mobile coupons influence a consumer in the midst of making a purchase decision, retailers and brands are beginning to experiment with this type of delivery standard. Imagine how great it would be to unlock a 20 percent discount while standing in line at a local restaurant. The best part about it all is that a customer can gain access to said discount with only a quick download of an app or a check-in, which takes only a matter of seconds.


While understanding this new phenomenon helps bring some clarity to consumer behavior, it doesn't truly clear the fog when it comes to how brands and retailers can develop an effective coupon/deal strategic plan.


History is telling
As many historians would agree -- it is critical to learn from the past. Believe it or not, there's a rich heritage and history surrounding the appropriate and inappropriate use of coupons and deals. More than 120 years of trial and error, by tens of thousands of brands and retailers, actually holds the secret to how smart coupon and deal offering can be achieved.


Much like how they're used today, coupons were first developed to drive product trial, encourage product use, and gain market share. In 1888, a very clever man by the name of Asa Candler used the first paper ticket coupon for a free glass of Coke to help market the new soda and unknowingly started a revolution, in more ways than one.


By 1909, C.W. Post provided the public with 1-cent coupons to promote Grape Nuts cereal, which was likely considered an epic deal at the time. By 1940, big chain grocery stores jumped on the bandwagon and began using coupons to attract consumers away from purchasing at local markets. Then in the 1990s, customer-centric marketers used coupons to surprise their best customers in an effort create customer loyalty and re-engage valuable customers.


Today, the social media explosion requires brands and retailers to entice their followers with coupons and deals to create positive social sentiment.


Despite many cut-and-dry examples of couponing and deal offering, lots of retailers and brands simply see it as a means to buy future sales and tend to over-coupon. Have you ever heard of too much of a good thing? This is true in the case of coupon saturation because it has created a new breed of deal-seeking consumers. TLC recently launched a series, called "Extreme Couponing,"  about everyday customers gaming the system and saving hundreds of dollars. While this was not the intent of the brands and retailers that issued the coupons, these die-hard coupon-cutting hustlers provide a powerful example of why coupons and deals should be strategically delivered.


The future
No one can predict the future, but I think it's safe to say that couponing is here to stay. Communication media will evolve and tactics may vary, but brands and retailers will continue to use coupons and deals to drive customers to purchase. Doing this the smart way will require retailers and brands to recognize consumer demand, leverage historical data, and adapt a coupon supply strategy that delivers customer incentives effectively. Now ask yourself: Is your brand winning or losing in the coupon and deal game?


Wade Allen is president of CouponFactory.


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1. Data scientist


Data scientists are becoming increasingly important for organizations of all sizes. And when it comes to marketing, these scientists can provide "competitive intelligence" based on big data, enabling marketers to better understand their target audiences.


As a result, you should expect plenty of competition for data scientists next year. A recent CareerCast report showed roughly 6,000 companies are expected to hire for an estimated 4.4 million IT jobs related to data analysis in 2016.


VentureBeat noted data scientist jobs frequently pay between $120,000 and $170,000 annually. Meanwhile, marketers who need data mining experts to collect, organize, and analyze customer information can add data scientists to learn about their clientele, and ultimately, develop better marketing campaigns.


My advice to attract data scientists in 2016: The data scientist has been called "the sexiest job of the 21st century," and perhaps it's easy to understand why. Today's data scientists are key players in organizations of all sizes, leveraging data and analytics to help executives, marketers, and other decision-makers use data to their advantage. By providing a competitive salary along with incentives based on a marketing department's revenue growth, you could offer an enticing employment opportunity to data scientists from across the globe. 

2. Marketing manager


A marketing department is incomplete without a marketing manager. This professional serves as a Jack or Jill of all trades, supervising and collaborating with team members to develop advertising or merchandising sales campaigns.


Marketing managers remain in high demand because they often drive business' marketing efforts, along with its overall growth. And as both start-ups and enterprises consider new ways to streamline their marketing campaigns, the demand for talented, experienced marketing managers could increase in 2016.


Today's marketing managers typically earn between $76,497 and $104,688 annually, according to Salary.com. However, finding the right marketing manager usually requires more than just a competitive salary, and those who are diligent and patient in their recruitment efforts can increase their chances of finding a skilled marketing manager.


My advice to attract marketing managers in 2016: When it comes to finding a marketing manager, promote your organization's culture and stability in your job description. By doing so, you'll be able to highlight your business' achievements and show applicants that they can contribute to a successful company. In addition, don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone during your candidate search. Interviewing applicants from a variety of backgrounds and learning about how they can help your company achieve its marketing goals is key.

3. Sales representative


A good salesperson can be difficult to find, especially in today's highly competitive job landscape. Fortunately, many talented sales representatives are available -- you just need to know where to look.


Manpower ranked sales representative second among its hardest-to-fill jobs in 2015. The HR consulting firm noted a lack of applicants, lack of experience, and lack of technical competencies or hard skills were some of the biggest roadblocks employers faced when they attempted to add new sales representatives.


Successful sales representatives include a rare breed of candidates who possess the skills and know-how to promote your organization's products or services. Therefore, you'll want to do whatever you can to ensure sales representative applicants understand the benefits of choosing your organization over another. Emphasize your organization's career growth opportunities and incentives to these applicants, and you can instantly boost your chances of adding talented sales representatives.


My advice to attract sales representatives in 2016: Does your company offer extensive training to sales representatives? If not, it may be worthwhile to consider creating and deploying a comprehensive training program. With this program in place, you can add young, talented professionals who are eager to learn and grow with a company and ensure they get the support they need at all times.

4. Content marketing specialist


Ineffective content marketing remains a major issue for many organizations, which is reflected in recent data. A Content Marketing Institute study showed only 30 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers said their organizations were effective at content marketing. Also, 44 percent of B2B marketers said their organizations were clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looked like, while 55 percent noted they were unclear or unsure.


Content marketing specialists are tasked with creating engaging web content. Today, search engine optimization (SEO) tools are insufficient to drive web traffic, but content marketing specialists who produce high-quality content day after day can provide an organization with the editorial support it needs to increase its website page views.


Only the best content marketing specialists will suffice for any organization, and offering content marketing specialists myriad career growth opportunities can make your business an attractive option to them. Plus, an organization that sets realistic web content goals will ensure its content marketing specialists can stay on track in a stress-free work environment.


My advice to attract content marketing specialists in 2016: Anyone can write, and you need to ensure that any content marketing specialist candidate can produce clear, error-free content. Exploring a candidate pool that includes applicants with backgrounds in journalism, creative writing, and other editorial fields can help you find the right candidate. And you should consider experts in your field too, as these candidates likely will have no trouble sharing valuable insights in a blog post, article, white paper, or any other marketing materials.


Michelle Kruse is recruitment, editor, and content manager at ResumeEdge.


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"People select" image via iStock.

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