People Perceive Gift Cards To Be Extremely Valuable…
Here Are Seven Ways To Use Them To Your Advantage.
Written by Rich Harshaw.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article called “Wink, Wink Deals” and gave an example of a remodeling salesman pulling a gift card out of his wallet and offering it to a client as a “deal clincher.” I’ve had several people ask me for more details about that, so I decided to cover it in more detail—along with several other ways to use gift cards in your business—in today’s article.
But first let’s talk about gift cards—what they are, how they work, and why they’re so darn powerful in a contractor’s marketing campaign.
For our purposes, there are two different kinds of gift cards—gift cards that can be redeemed for purchases with YOUR COMPANY, and gift cards for other companies… usually restaurants or retailers.
The second kind of gift cards—restaurants, retailers, etc. —have swept over the country like a plastic tsunami in recent years. They’re the go-to (and admittedly lazy) gift for all occasions—from birthdays, to holidays, to thank you’s, to graduations, to anything and everything else. These kinds of cards can be extremely useful in a marketing campaign… but they also have given a sort of “credibility by association” to the other kind of gift cards—ones that are only valid for purchases at your company.
What I’m specifically talking about here are gift cards that you have professionally designed and manufactured to look and feel and smell like the real thing—because they are the real thing. The only difference is that you can print them yourself and use them like cash… but they only cost you fractions of pennies on the dollar. That’s because most remodeling companies can work discounts into their regular pricing schemes anyway. If you offer somebody a discount in the form of a $500 gift card for your company, you’re not really going to be out $500 when the customer redeems it; you’ve already worked the $500 discount into your normal pricing. Essentially what you’re doing is making the discounts that you would normally offer to your customers as a routine part of the buying process TANGIBLE IN THE FORM OF A GIFT CARD.
And for some reason, when you make that discount tangible, it has more power.
So with that backdrop, I present to you SEVEN cool ways to use gift cards in your business:
Incentive Offers In Advertisements: Instead of offering the usual and boring 10% off or $1,000 off (or whatever your offer du jour is) try making the offer for a gift card of the same amount. You can either show the gift card in the ad—or not. The important thing is to offer the card and limit the number of people who can claim it. This makes the prospect feel more in control of the discount; like the discount is more authentic and “above and beyond” normal discounts. Try it.
Mailers: Try putting the gift card in a mailer—especially a fold-over postcard where the prospect can actually see and feel the gift card. Think about it this way: if the Home Depot sent you a $100 gift card in the mail, would you throw it away? Not a chance. Since this gift card has the same look and feel as traditional gift cards they’re bombarded with on birthdays, they’ll assign the same intrinsic value to your company’s card in their mind. They’re more likely to notice the offer, open it and read it, and put it aside for actual use. All of this is a big step up from throwaway regular offers.
Referral Programs: This is a good place to use BOTH kinds of gift cards… both third-party restaurant cards AND your own company’s cards. No need to go through all the details of how this works here; I’ve actually already done that on a previous post—click here to read all about it.
Home Show Appointment Setters: The best way to get a person to stop at a tradeshow is to use a big bill—a 17” x 7.3” facsimile of a $1,000 or $5,000 or some other big denomination of a piece of cash. It’s so outlandish; so unexpected; and so… COOL that it literally stops people in their tracks and becomes an instant conversation starter. So what’s that have to do with gift cards? Well… while the big bill does the STOPPING, the gift card is then used to set appointments.
It goes like this: use the big bill to stop a prospect at the home show, then immediately engage them in a series of qualification questions to gauge interest and urgency. (How old is your home? Are the windows original to the home? Do your utility bills seem too high? Are you constantly fiddling with the thermostat to make the temperature comfortable? Have you considered replacing your windows? Etc.) If they’re not that interested, they’ll beg off a conversation with you. If they engage, however, you know they might be a good prospect.
Instead of simply having them fill out the giveaway entry form, you can say something like this: “It sounds like our windows might be a perfect fit for your needs; I tell you what… my boss, Mr. Davidson, has authorized me to give a bonus $500 gift card (produces said gift card) to the first ten people at the home show who set an appointment. It’s good for 10% off any purchase, up to a maximum of $500. You’re under no obligation to buy anything, of course, but I am authorized to give it to you now—to be used on top of our best price—if you want to go ahead and be one of the first ten to set an appointment.”
Naturally, you’ll want to make a note that the prospect has the gift card so your salesperson can account for it when setting the prices and offering any price drops. But this is a nice way to get people to take ACTION RIGHT NOW. You might even reserve it for the more reluctant appointment setters instead of handing it over to just anyone.
Post-Home Show Follow Ups: So what if the person doesn’t set an appointment on the spot at the home show? No problem! You can either call or mail them (or both!) with a secondary offer that includes the gift card. The call goes something like this:
“Hi, John, this is Rich over at Best Home Improvements. I’m calling about our $10,000 home improvement giveaway that you signed up for last week at the home show—do you remember filling out our form? We give away the grand prize every year in April, so the drawing actually won’t be held for a while still. But we do have a monthly drawing for a $1,000 Best Home Improvements gift card that’s good toward any project, and I’m calling to let you know that your name has been drawn as a winner. I show your address is (their address); can you confirm that’s accurate? Okay, great, I’m going to mail that over right now. (Momentary pause) I also see here that your form shows that if you won the grand prize, you’d be most interested in windows—is that right?”
At this point, you launch into the EXACT SAME qualification questions from above, with the exact same offer of a BONUS gift card for setting an appointment RIGHT THEN AND THERE. You decide the gift card amounts. THIS WORKS!
Canvassing: The truth is, gift cards work awesome anytime you can actually show the card to a person and hand it to them to touch and feel. If you do any kind of canvassing, then the gift card is a must-use tool in your contractor marketing. The idea is exactly the same as the home show… use a big bill as an icebreaker—but in this case, instead of a giveaway, just have the big bill represent an amount you are normally willing to discount—say $1,000 (fine print should stipulate 10% off up to the stated discount amount). Then when your canvasser asks for the appointment, you can offer the gift card as BONUS on top of the big bill offer—but only if they set the appointment right then. It’s important that you actually hand them the card right then and there—you want it to be a tangible reminder of the appointment, and you want reciprocity to make them feel more obligated to actually keep the appointment. Try this—IT FREAKING WORKS.
3rd Drop Deal Closers: And finally we end up where we started—the salesman using the gift card in the home as a deal closer. Here’s exactly how it works:
If you have one of those prospects that is teetering on the edge of buying, but just can’t quite make themselves pull the trigger, then have the salesman pull the gift card out of his personal wallet—important… it needs to come from his wallet, not his bag or sales materials—and say: “I don’t know if this will make a difference or not. My boss, Mr. Davidson, gave this to me yesterday in our sales meeting. It’s a gift card for $500 off any purchase with Best Home Improvements. He told me they were doing a drawing at the home show last week for FIVE of these gift cards, but two of them were not claimed by anyone. He handed one to me and one to another salesperson; he said that we were already going to give them away anyway, and so he handed it to us and said if we had a prospect who wanted to buy, but just couldn’t quite pull the trigger, that we could offer this to them—but only if it would make a difference in them buying RIGHT NOW. I can give this to you, but only if you use it and buy right now. If you aren’t ready to buy right now, that’s fine, I’ll just wait and give it to the next person I have in this same situation.”
That’s when the prospect trips over the coffee table to get the gift card out of your hand.
It’s called the gift card deal closer. Use any variation of it you feel comfortable with. It doesn’t work every time—nothing is 100—but it will push a few of those iffy sales in your direction. And at the end of the day, any tactic that can improve your results by 5 or 10% can make a huge difference in your profitability.
© 2014 – 2016, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.