Tap the Power of Gift Cards

In this time of digital advertising, it can be tough to grab and hold on to the interest of consumers.

As people turn to Google, Yelp and other digital media, they are fully aware that they can easily jump to a competing service company in a matter of seconds. The public’s attention span shortens by the day. In our quest to command customer attention, it is now more critical than ever to use new tools and techniques in our marketing to stand out from the crowd.

Make discounts exciting

Consumer gift cards can empower your advertising and marketing to grab the interest of your audience. They change the plain traditional incentive discounts into fresh, fun and exciting gifts. Instead of the old and dull “20% off” discount, you can offer a gift of a $25 Visa shopping spree, night out at the movies or coffee with friends at Starbucks.

Dollar or percentage-off discounts are forgotten by customers seconds after they are offered. Gift cards on the other hand are tangible items they can hold and think about. Customers will put them in their wallets and remember that there is a good time waiting for them when they put them to use. When they are redeemed, it’s hard to not think good thoughts about the company that gave them the gift.

If I had the choice between two otherwise similar companies, where one offered a $25 discount and the other a $25 gift card, my strong desire to get free stuff draws me to the one offering the gift card.

Sometimes the consumer appointed with the chore of selecting a service company is not the one responsible for paying the service bill. In this case, a gift card becomes a bonus treat to the person making the choice. In this scenario, the companies offering traditional discounts don’t stand a chance.

Referral rewards

Gift cards can also radically change the effectiveness of referral reward programs. Instead of the common discount-off of future service, these cards instead offer a fun reward which clients can actually visualize enjoying. They create a far more powerful motivation for them to mention your company to friends.

The cost

I can imagine some people are now thinking about how expensive it will be to purchase a big handful of gift cards. If this is the case for you, you have proven my point. You see cash value in the gift card, but not in your own man hours.

Many owners do not consider cash-off discounts to be real money. Consumers often think along the same lines. Since the discount is subtracted before the final invoice total is calculated, it is easy to pretend it never existed. The truth is that every dollar you have given away as a discount would have been pure profit if you had gotten the job and not given away the discount.

Ultimately, there is no difference to the company bottom line of profit whether you offer a discount in the form of a gift card or give it away as a discount off the total amount on the invoice.

Brand restrictions

Please be aware that some gift cards have restrictions for use of their copyright brand. For example, I found that Starbucks would not allow me to use their name and logo in my advertising to the public. So instead, I chose to offer a generic “coffee gift card” in my ads. On the other hand, I was allowed to use their name and logo when communicating with existing customers. In those cases I offered a “Starbucks gift card” as a referral reward.

To find out if a branded gift card has any advertising restrictions, you only need to send the corporation an email and ask.

Providing the gift

I found it most effective to present the advertising incentive gift card at the time the invoice was paid at the consumer’s home. If the consumer was mailing me a check following the job, I would return a thank you card and include the gift.

When I use a gift card as a referral reward, I send it out along with a “thank you for the referral” card as soon as the referred job is completed.

Stand out from the crowd

Using gift cards as purchasing and referral incentives is easy to do. Few, if any, of your competitors are taking advantage of this fun way to offer discounts and rewards. This tool allows you to stand out from the crowd of service companies battling to grab the attention of consumers. Making a little bit of effort to incorporate this powerful incentive will be well worth it.

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