In April of 2009 I was contacted by a reporter with QSR Magazine working on an article about Gift and Loyalty cards. The article was to target readers who own and operate fast food and casual dining restaurants, with information on the latest trends in the food service industry. Here is an email I sent him on the subject matter to which he took what he wanted from it for his article.
My email: Here at Vision Marketing, Inc. we not only supply various gift card products at some of the best prices in the industry but we also offer marketing ideas and solutions on how those products can be best used to increase sales and build customer loyalty. Gift cards are no doubt a great loyalty product. Many folks are familiar with the typical way they are used. Customer purchases a card for a set amount of money and then gives it as a gift. The receiver then redeems the card when making a purchase. The benefits are well noted for the vendor in that they have their money upfront and of course there is always a certain percentage of gift cards that are never redeemed. Either way the program is a win win for vendors.
Gift cards are also great tools to use in company incentive programs. Corporations large and small use them as thank you’s and incentives to their employees for reaching sales goals or for a job well done. They also make great thank you’s for clients. What better personal endorsement than when your company or business associate hands you a card promoting a local restaurant.
Another use of gift cards that has gained popularity with a high return rate is mailing out a post card with a gift card attached or one that pops out. This is a powerful tool to target new customers as well as existing customers. We have one franchise restaurant that targets a specified demographic in a 2 mile radius around their restaurant to promote it’s grand opening. They would do a $5.00 off pop out gift card on a $15 meal purchase. The program has been a big success in driving traffic into the restaurant. One of the benefits of a gift card is that the recipient tends to hold it in their wallet or purse as they see it as cash on hand. Vision Marketing offers a number of various products that can be used in a gift card program from paper, to plastic, to laminated cards, etc. However, plastic no doubt has a certain value that is attached to it when one receives it.
Another creative idea is to use gift or loyalty cards to partner with other local businesses. A pizza client of ours is partnering with a local cable company in their town. They are using our Peel-A-Deal(R) product in their promotion which contains 16 peel off coupons on the back of the card and one of them is for a Free Pizza no strings attached. The pizzeria gives about 400 cards a month to it’s local cable provider in exchange for free commercials. The cable company uses them as incentives to get them in the door with prospective advertisers. They promise people a free pizza if they will give them 10 minutes of their time. At the end of their meeting the cable representative gives the prospective advertiser the Peel-A-Deal(R) loyalty card. Not only does the card have the free pizza on it, but also 15 other coupons that range from a free side with purchase, discount pizza offers, to buy one pizza get one free type deals.
What did the restaurant receive in exchange for the gift cards? The cable provider ran his commercial 1,500 times in one Month! Not only has the promotion been highly successful for the pizzeria, but the cable company loves it as well. Our client has also learned that his competitor is spending more advertising dollars with the same cable provider to combat all of his ads that are running in his market. This same card was also used as a fundraiser card and raised over $80,000 for local schools and churches last year. That is not bad for the cost of some Peel-A-Deal cards and some free pizzas. What is unique and sets the Peel-A-Deal product apart from our plastic gift cards is that it features multiple offers on one promotion.
Right now times are hard and folks are trying to make money and save as much money as they can, wherever they can. There is no better time to harness the power of gift and loyalty cards.