(Blogger’s Note: This is the second of a three part article on Gift Certificate Marketing.)
Have you seen the Black Friday ads? You woud think people have not shopped for anything in a decade. Marketing isn’t what it used to be.It is much easier to develop, create and implement, and drastically more cost effective than it was a few short years ago. Thanks to cyberspace technology and a plethora of Internet sites that are relatively free by a comparison to print media, marketing very well could be the secret ingredient to the success of those making large profits.
Most well-known chefs have strong marketing plans and programs driving the enthusiasm they create. Although their culinary skills may be of a higher level, their recipes a taste more intriguing and their ingenuity a tad above the rest, marketing is what has launched most of the culinary careers in broadcast.
Don’t think for a moment your Beef Wellington recipe in
According to restaurant consultant John Harris “Marketing wins every time. If you put a restaurant with a strong marketing plan up against a restaurant with good food and no marketing plan, the restaurant with the marketing plan will outperform the good food restaurant.”
Harris has been a
“Turning one consumer into two consumers is the very definition of viral marketing. Therefore, every single sale of a gift certificate is an outstanding shot at a viral marketing win,” claims Harris. Having been on the owner’s side of the bar, Harris also understands the importance of tight marketing budgets, and professes that marketing needs to be long term, consistent and not necessarily expensive.
With the adaptation of creative software programs for every style home or office computer, marketing doesn’t need to devour the bottom line like it once did. Many of the marketing avenues available to the small businessman today can be created in your back office and have the same impact as a Madison Avenue national chain campaign.
Harris has developed a brief outline suggesting a few marketing tips to help promote gift certificates and other promotional tools.
And don’t think it’s too late to begin marketing for the holidays. It isn’t. Many of the suggestion Harris has made can be implemented in a few days.
Marketing Basics: It is crucial to let your customers and employees know about your gift offerings. Some inexpensive (or free), direct marketing programs that you can make happen in a couple of days:
- Eye-catching Signs or Posters:
- “Gift Certificates Available – On-Line or In-Store at…”
- Table or Counter Displays. Same message
- Staff Buttons. Fast and cheap, a million places online can create them for you overnight
- Start putting a simple flyer into every bag or box; in every check-presenter, etc.
- Add to Voice Mail message:
- “Our gift certificates are available 24X7 online…”; or “We’re open special hours this year to provide gift certificates…”
- Add simple text at the bottom of your receipts or invoices
- Staff Training. It’s easy to simply mention that you offer gift certificates or gift cards
Promotion Plan: Work the gift business both online (see table of online gift certificate services, below) and offline. Some proven strategies include:
- Give Free Gift Certificates to your best customers. Send them via mail or email, an actual Gift Certificate / Card with a personal message, e.g.,”Thanks for you business over the years.” Make sure you do it in a way that makes it very easy for the recipient to re-gift it if they want. Most recipients will spend more on the back-end, both in purchases and in referral business. If you’re too busy, some companies will do a special run of Gift Certificates complete with personalized messaging and complete fulfillment for a very small fee.
- Buy a Gift Certificate / Get a Gift Certificate. This promotion rewards the purchaser with an additional, or separate, gift of their own. This is particularly effective with office administrators, because when the purchaser buys a $50 gift card/certificate, they would typically receive a $10 one for themselves. The big chains do very well with this strategy – Smith & Wollensky’s is one of many examples of what a proven technique it is. Online gift certificate systems (see table in Friday’s post) are particularly adept at automating this and capturing all the buyer and recipient info.
- Presuming you already have some form of customer list or database, this is the season to think more professionally about how it needs to be happening all year long. You do not want to win new customers without capturing some basic contact info about them! Get your website up to speed on this. Ask whoever handles your website to add a simple online form for customers to join your mailing list – it’s trivial and very inexpensive.
- Send a follow-up “Thank You” via email or personal note to recipient and giver after redemption. If the recipient is a first time customer, thank them for coming to your store and reinforce your goal of personal service and product selection. Also, send a ‘Thank You” to the buyer for introducing a new customer to you and sending a best customer back to you. This simple courtesy is worth its’ weight in gold.
Friday: Where to go for gift card guidance