How To Execute A Powerful Gift Card Strategy
Here's a common problem: People aren't often creative and fun, so they end up giving predictable, boring gifts every year for birthdays and Christmas. And they hate it. Nobody WANTS to be that boring gift giver. We just succumb to it because we can't think of anything better. What if you could find a way to make giving your product or service fun and interesting? People would be more willing to buy stuff from you as gifts since you would not only allow them to check "getting the gift" off their to-do list, you would also allow them to check off "having some fun."
Let me use a friend of mine as an example: Two years ago for Christmas he wanted to buy his wife Lasik eye surgery. Not exactly easy to wrap up and put under the tree. The Lasik center did have gift certificates, and he got one. But that's boring.
So he went to the dollar store and bought several pairs of those magnification reading glasses, crushed them up and put the pieces into an eight-inch tall decorative jar with a screw-on lid. Total cost was about $7. It made a great present because no one knows what a bunch of crushed up eye glasses in a jar sounds like.
When his wife finally opened the present she saw a bunch of mangled frames and broken glass. She got the trademark "what the !?!" look on her face... until she saw the note, "You won't be needing your glasses anymore."
So let's extend these ideas into something you could do for your business. Think for a minute… how could you package your "gift card" with something tangible to make it a fun gift for your customers to give for a birthday or during the holiday season? This is an especially great idea if your product is not tangible (like Lasik) and the gift receivers, therefore, wouldn't necessarily expect to receive a hard-good or tangible "gift" under the tree.
There are several ways to do this. The easiest being to either package the gift card with some kind of related toy (hey, it's Christmas... even an adult could use a new toy!) or with something old and worn out. Here are a ton of examples to get your brain going, in near alphabetic order:
- Accountant: Granted, it's not on most people's wish list. But why not give the gift of an accountant's time for tax preparation -- or whatever? To make this fun, you'll have to package your certificate with something unique and accounting related. How about a huge stack of fake money (accompanying note: look how much you'll save!) or some kind of nerdy looking doll (just Google "nerd doll" images and you'll find plenty).
- Auto Repair: This is easy. Put some old, broken auto parts in a box and you're golden! No further explanation necessary!
- Beauty Supply: If you run a beauty supply store, don't let your customers walk out with just a lousy gift certificate for a gift. Help them make the gift fun by giving them one of those "Bratz" dolls and a note that says, "Make yourself look glamorous."
- Cars/Boats: Lexus sure makes it look like fun in those commercials to put a big red bow on a car and then have the surprised spouse look out the window. Trust me, this is a horrible idea. You should never (I repeat, NEVER) pick out another person's car. Let them pick it out -- they know exactly what they want. But you can get them a "gift certificate" for a car that's a scale model of said vehicle. Wrap that sucker up, pop it under the tree, and watch your spouse brim with delight.
- Carpet Cleaners: Get some carpet and cut it up into pieces and stuff them in a box. Then throw your certificate in there with a note that says, "A little help to make your carpet look like new again."
- Cell Phones: This has always been a tricky thing to buy people because there are contracts involved, and the phones are so personal. So if you sell cell phones, why not gather up a million of those old cell phones that everyone has that are basically JUNK and give each gift card buyer about 10 or 12 of them. Put them in a box that is heavy and sounds interesting when you shake it. Then put a note in there that says "bring these junkers into the store (along with this certificate) to exchange for the phone of your choice." But the real brilliance of this is that you can keep using the same junker phones over and over!
- Clothing Store: Grab a Ken or Barbie doll and dress it up really nice. Put a note in there along with the gift card that says, "Look fabulous like Ken," or a similar alternative. Get a bunch of Barbie/Ken/random doll clothes and wrap them up in the gift. Tiny clothes and a gift card are way more fun than just a gift card.
- Computers: Read cell phones and accountants above for some ideas. You'll start to see that this is pretty easy to do for lots of industries.
- Credit Repair: Hey, it's a practical gift, right? And it could be packaged with a hammer or some other tool. Repair stuff? Get it?!?
- Dentists: A teeth whitening certificate could be packaged with a plush tooth doll (they exist, believe it or not) or those annoying chattering teeth. Or a pair of sunglasses (you'll need these when you look at your teeth!).
- Movie Theaters: Finally, something to do with all those old, bad VHS tapes! Every gift card comes with a box with 10 or 12 VHS tapes with the (now you're catching on) note that says, "How about a new movie, for a change?!" or some such saying.
- Dry Cleaners: Finally, something to do with all those old wire hangers! Put a pile of 100 of them in a box with the (here it comes again) note: "This is just the beginning -- by the time you use this gift card you'll have dozens more!"
- Tutoring: You'd have to be a lousy parent to get your kid tutoring for Christmas. But if you are a tutoring company, why not get a bunch of huge squishy brains to put in the present under the tree. People will buy this. You just watch and see.
- Financial Planners: Not a good time right now for financial planners. But if you are one, have your clients give the gift. Why not an old-fashioned-looking money sack -- the kind that old time bank robbers used to come out of the bank holding. The sacks are empty except for a note that says, "Time to fill your money bag back up," or something similar.
- Hearing Aid Sales: Old, crushed up hearing aids.
- Hotels: Get your hands on about a million of those little Monopoly hotels and put a couple hundred of them in a glass jar with your logo on it. The note might say something like "there are a million hotels out here, but someone special thinks we're the best, and they thought enough of you to send you this clever gift... come see us soon!"
- Jewelry: If you have a picky spouse, and you're therefore afraid to actually buy the real jewelry (all of us guys have learned that lesson the hard way), then go with the fake stuff as the present and include the gift card. It can be real fake jewelry or kid's fake jewelry. A fun touch is to put the fake stuff in the real box. Makes your wife tilt her head sideways like the dog you tricked pretending to throw the ball.
- Plastic Surgeon: How about a Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head Doll?
- Pet Store: There's a line of children's toys called "The Littlest Pet Shop." Wrap us a bunch of these with a note that says "bring this card in and select your new best friend."
- Piano Store: Either a toy piano (easy) or a bunch of old piano keys in a jar (admittedly harder).
- Restaurants: The classic gift card gift -- boring, but appreciated. What about getting some kid'spretend foodthat represents their favorite meal and wrap it up as a present. Or what about a huge box of Goldfish or pretzels with the gift card taped to it with a note that says, "To keep you from getting hungry."
- Vacations/Travel: Whatever the obvious souvenir is for the destination, that's what goes in the box.
Get the point? As a business owner, find ways to package what you sell as a gift that's fun, interesting, and unique. Your spouse or kids will have more fun this year as they open an assortment of bizarre gifts from you. And maybe best of all, we now have eBay at our disposal, so there's no limit to your wackiness.