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News & Press: KRHA News

Gift Card Marketing Tips

Wednesday, January 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Neeley Carlson
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There are several benefits for operators to implement a gift card program.  As stated by KRHA allied partner Heartland Payment Systems, “A gift card program is no longer a luxury for merchants, but a necessity to remain competitive.” 

As with any marketing tactic, you will get out of it what you put in.  Operators need to consider ways they can maximize their gift card sales throughout the year, and have a plan in place to accomplish their goals.

According to, 72% of customers spend 20% MORE than the value of their card.  These numbers vary depending on the source, but all the numbers reflect that consumers spend additional money beyond the value of the card.

Below are a few ideas to consider that could increase your gift card sales.

1.      Get social – Social media can be a great place to promote your gift cards. 

2.      Promote Year Round - Almost every restaurant sells gift cards leading up to Christmas, but cards can be used for more than gifting.  Have you thought of developing a promotion around other holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Cinco de Mayo or national burger day/month?  There is a food holiday every day, week, and month of the year.  Give guest a reason to purchase a card, and if research holds true, most will spend 20% more than the value.  (check out our list of food holidays

3.      Increase Mid-Week Sales – Most operators see higher sales on the weekends.  Instead of encouraging staff to promote gift cards during peak times, focus your efforts during times that staff can be more effective.  After all, research shows 27% of gift cards are purchased in person. 

4.      Advanced Promotion – Most consumers manage expenses on a monthly budget.  With effective planning, you can use this to your advantage.  Promote Cinco de Mayo gift card sales in April, knowing guest will redeem them in May.  Remember, most customers spend 20% more than the value of the card, and when purchased in advance they will consider the extra spend part of a new month’s budget. 

5.      Online Promotion – Let others do the promotion for you.  Building your social community means building customer engagement.  Giveaways are a great way to do this.  Customers could be entered simply by sharing, commenting, or posting a picture.

6.      Offer Something Unique – Partner with another local business to create a unique package.  Both companies can leverage their marketing and social media channels, expanding your audience to new customers. 

7.      Prizes! – A little competition never hurt anyone and can be a key motivator for your staff.  You don’t have to break the bank, it could be free movie passes, lunch, fuel gift card or cash!  Perhaps you could do a trade out with another business, giving you more marketing exposure.  The key is to make gift card sales part of your up-sell strategy. 

8.      Virtual Distribution – You can’t ignore mobile any longer.  Online gift card sales are growing by 29% per year.  Many consumers don’t travel with their gift or reward cards.  By offering electronic gift cards, guest can access the card on a mobile device, providing them access at any time.   

9.      Lock in Funds –When customers load funds onto a reloadable gift card, they are more likely to continue purchasing from you.  This is a great way to keep them coming back.  Gift cards can also help reduce payment processing fees, which can benefit high-frequency, low ticket business.

10.   Visibility – Display gift cards in your stores to make sure guest see them.  Marketing them in high traffic areas, such as your hostess stand, is both easy and inexpensive. 

The key is to plan ahead.  With a little experimenting, you can determine what marketing mix and promotions work best for your operation.