Gift Cards are a popular choice for birthdays, gift-giving holidays, thank you gifts, and more. And with the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time for your business to start thinking about how to effectively add Gift Cards into your marketing mix to further engage customers and keep them coming back.

Gift Cards are a hidden gem that many businesses often don’t promote enough — and should. Wondering how gift cards work and what the best Gift Card practices are? Consider these three points when implementing Gift Card services for small businesses.

1. Select the best gift card types to suit your business

Depending on your front-of-store payment system, there are several types of gift card options available to you. Each has its own pros and cons, depending on the type of business you manage.

The “Printable” Gift Card. This is reminiscent of gift certificates that were commonplace in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a basic card that is sometimes built right into your existing front-of-store payment system. These are hit-and-miss and don’t have the same high-perceived value when compared to a traditional credit-card sized gift card people have come to expect. These are far less costly to produce than plastic gift cards, as you just need a printer.

The Custom Plastic Gift Card. The best and most effective option is to create your own customized credit-card sized gift card. It’s easy to develop, often works within your existing payment systems, has a high perceived value and is a great way for you to reach the wallet of new customers.

Then, it’s time to decide what options you want on your gift card. You typically pay more for each option, so it’s recommended to only use what you need.

Some merchants like to use the Magnetic Stripe to manage interactions. It acts just like the unique sequential barcode, but uses the merchant’s existing scanning hardware to add, and remove the available balances associated with that particular card. When an added level of security is required, some merchants like to add a PIN Code that is revealed when the recipient scratches off the protective film. For most small to medium merchants, this is not required. Nevertheless, magnetic-stripe gift cards are the easiest and most secure way for most brick-and-mortar businesses to accept physical gift cards.

The “eGift” Card. In many ways, this is the easiest way to utilize gift card functionality. Digital cards give customers the ability to purchase gift cards online, which can be sent to a friend or used by the customer on your website or in your business. You do, however, lose some of the benefits of branding by not having physical cards in your storefront/business, but the convenience factor and affordability is attractive.

2. Build Brand Awareness

By choosing to customize gift cards with your business’s logo and messaging, it becomes an advertisement that cardholders see each time they reach into their wallets. It helps keep your business top of mind. It all starts with putting together an attractive layout that captures the look and feel of your brand. When designing your layouts, you will want to decide if the creative will be used for year-round applications or if it will be seasonally specific. We typically recommend developing something that is evergreen that can be used throughout the year. That way, you aren’t left with a high number of unused gift cards that can only be used during a specific season.

Another perk is once you have developed the gift cards, it makes it easy to run marketing or promotions to attract new customers or garner repeat business. It’s easy to create and place a sign at front-of-store that reminds and encourages your clients to purchase your gift cards for a special gift giving occasion.

3. Presentation is important

While it’s true that gift cards are valued by practically all who receive them, poor packaging could interfere with a gift card’s positive reception. There is something to be said for the old adage, “Dress to Impress.”

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the different types of gift card holders you can select. You can choose from basic kiss-cut sleeves that hold the card in-place and allow the giver to add personalized messages, such as To:,From:, Amount:, etc. These sleeves are a great vehicle for adding additional company messaging to inform the recipient of what types of products or services you offer. Think of it as a way to create additional excitement before you directly engage with your new client.

Depending on your budget, you can also dial-up the wow-factor and go all-out with a customized multi-fold mini-box. Remember, it’s all about the presentation!

At Trellis, we recommend using a design that is evergreen and can be used year-round for all applications (birthdays, festive holidays, thank you gifts, etc.) Regardless of the sector, gift card programs make the holidays brighter for everyone. Remember, a connection with a customer may start with a gift card, but hopefully it doesn’t end there. Gift card programs open doors to deeper customer engagement and additional marketing opportunities.

Email our marketing team today to design and learn more about small business Gift Cards and how they can help benefit your company through incremental sales and brand exposure. Additionally, you can fill out a form on our website to indicate your Gift Card design preferences. We’ll help you get your brand message in front of the right people. Let us help grow your business!

Trellis Team

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