Do you have a small business that needs to build its brand? How do you get your voice heard in a world where the internet has a million commercial voices all screaming in unison. The way into people’s minds is through their wallets. You can build your company’s brand, build up your word-of-mouth and start moving your product off the shelves by using gift cards as your ticket to a competitive advantage. We’ve done some research and identified a few ways to use gift cards to promote your small business; you might not expect some of these hints but they’ve got proven effectiveness.
A foot in the door
A key factor in the success of gift cards as a marketing and branding exercise is that it can give you a small opening into a customer that may have had their defenses up, ready to deflect your attempts to build a relationship with them.
A gift card is your way to entice them into seeing what you have to offer, check out the features, attributes and benefits of your wonderful range of products. Once their evaluation of their purchase is satisfactory, they may return for more.
You may have seen this technique before: from a door-to-door salesman. One of the most tried and tested methods in B2C sales is the ‘foot in the door’ technique. The idea is that customers who may have flat out refused a sale may well be more inclined to say yes to a request if their resolve is first tested by an initial, easy request.
Think of it this way: if your friend asked you if you’d like to come around and help him move his entire furniture out of his house, you might be a little bit resistant. However, if he first asked you to just move a table, then you might consider it. THen only to help him move everything in the end because ‘you were already there’.
This same method can be used with gift cards. A customer who is not initially interested in your products may see the gift card as pure luck. If they have a free purchase, then they would be silly to ignore it, right? However, once the first purchase was done and they begin to perceive your business aligning with their needs, they’ll be much more likely to visit you the next time they want to make a purchase and, if you have truly satisfied their needs, they might even spread positive word of mouth to their like-minded friends.
You might not think of yourself as an old school salesperson, but that’s not to say you can’t borrow their techniques.
Building your brand
One of the hardest things to do in the modern economy is to get into your customers heads. Every single day they are bombarded with messages, from the first moment they check out their facebook feed, to the train ride into work in the morning and then on the television when they tune it at night.
How do you get a word in edgewise?
Branding is all about perception, what customers think of your company and how it relates to them. A great way to build a relationship with new customers and reward old customers is through corporate gift cards. Small business who have spent time crafting themselves a niche, with attractive logos, colour schemes and slogans, can find their way into a customer’s minds by getting into their wallet. A gift card is a reward, something we received as presents for birthdays and Christmas growing up, and people associate gift cards with these good feelings, even today. When you have your gift card in someone’s wallet, they will see it whenever they get coffee, buy lunch or head to the pub. Unlike a business card, it has real and tangible value. People love dollar signs and the more positive they see your company, the more they will want to be a part of your brand. Small business can get huge benefits from simple branding techniques such as these, without the associated costs of expensive ad campaigns.
Research into the science of gift cards has found that they have a remarkable effect on revenue, margins and, ultimately, profit.
31% of gift card receivers claimed that they never buy discounted or reduced-priced merchandise when purchasing with a gift card. This means that you can get a great return on your investment and won’t lose out to frugal customers. This may be that customers don’t see the gift card as ‘real money’; for them it is an unexpected boon. In the same way that people will rarely spend a small lottery ticket win on rent, but instead of a lavish dinner or a new shirt, a gift card represents something different than their usual savings account: it is free money to be spent on something that makes them feel good. This is great for small business who cannot afford to be loss-leaders and want to push their premium range as it represents the best of their businesses offerings.
Plus, unredeemed balances present a great opportunity for businesses to grow interest while the card is sitting in someone else’s pocket. When a person gifts or purchases a gift card, the ‘real money’ sits in the business bank account and can continue to accrue interest along the way. So in the end, you get your brand into people’s minds and their pockets and your marginal costs are reduced; what a fantastic way to market!
Remember, marketing isn’t just about the end user. A marketing channel is made up of an intricate social network, from manufacturers, wholesalers, intermediaries and retailers that all have their own needs, wants and desires. A great way to build long-term relationships with members of your marketing channel is to offer them gift cards. Whether it’s in place of a rebate or is simply a goodwill gesture, a small business can improve the relationship with its channel partners immensely by handing out gift cards with their branding. It gives the receiver a chance to see for themselves how great your product is. Having long-term relationships with your channel means you can spend less money on establishing new chains and more time focusing on your end consumer.
Gift cards are a great way to build you brand in the mind of the consumer, with an easy foot in the door that gives you access to their attitudes in a way that can truly influence their buying behaviour. While the aforementioned examples may not be exactly what you thought of as traditional sales and marketing, they will build your impact on the market in a way that has high returns on investment!