How to boost promotions and motivate staff

Sarah Chesterton on how gift vouchers and cards can help companies win customer loyalty and hike employee morale.

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Sponsored by Sainsbury’s Business Direct

It is no secret that 2013 was a tough year for many businesses. While things are looking more positive for the year ahead, economists still believe there is a long way to go on the road to economic recovery. What is certain is that many businesses still require a certain level of belt-tightening in 2014. 

With this in mind, how do companies on a tight budget go about securing new customers and clients and motivating their workforce? How do they best reward them for their loyalty while gearing them up for another potentially tough year?

Saying thank you is often not enough to make your customers and colleagues feel valued. However, there is a simple, cost-effective solution that can really boost your customer loyalty, morale and engagement – a gift card or retail voucher. 

Why use gift cards or vouchers to boost your promotion?

During difficult economic times it can be challenging to take a new product to market, especially if that particular marketplace is increasingly crowded. 

Standing out from the crowd is paramount to the success of a product launch and using a gift card or voucher from a well-known and loved brand can really help to differentiate you from your competitors, drive first purchases and attract new customers.

What should you look for in a promotions partner?

  • Brand recognition: For your promotion to be successful is it vital you pick a well-recognised brand that fits with your company values. 
  • Product choice: It is important that the gift card or voucher you offer as part of the promotion is highly desirable and gives the recipient a great choice of gifts. 
  • Easily redeemable: There is little point in offering a gift card or voucher that can only be redeemed in a few locations. Ideally you should offer a card that has nationwide appeal, ensuring that the brand you partner with is where your customers are.
  • Additional benefits: If the brand can offer you additional benefits such as loyalty points when your customers use them, this will add further gravitas to your promotion or marketing initiative.

How can you use a gift card or voucher for motivational purposes?

There are many different ways that employers can use gift cards and vouchers to motivate colleagues. They are most commonly used to reward long service, loyalty, meeting objectives and targets, or simply to acknowledge a job well done. 

However, if an employer wants to incentivise, surely cash is king? Maybe not. Cash incentives and bonuses often get swallowed up by personal bills or get added to an employee’s salary and therefore go unnoticed. Motivation vouchers, though, are an instant acknowledgement – a treat. 

Giving the person spending the voucher some sort of memory or positive association between that treat and their employer is a far more effective way of engaging colleagues than simply giving them cash.

Paper versus plastic

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A gift card from a recognisable brand allows employees to choose their own treat

Gift vouchers can be purchased in both paper format and as an electronic gift card that can be loaded with an amount and spent at either one or a range of retailers.

Paper vouchers are still a popular choice as they offer instant gratification and enable businesses to publicly present a voucher for a certain amount, for example £20, which can help to reinforce the employee’s achievement in a team setting. Recipients can really feel the value in their hands and this has a big impact on their motivation and loyalty.

Electronic gift cards also have a number of practical advantages – the main one being security. 

Electronic cards can be loaded remotely, allowing them to be sent out without any value on them, guarding against theft and avoiding secure delivery charges for companies. This function also means that additional rewards can be topped up remotely by the provider as and when the company wants to issue a reward.

Other advantages include the management of cards by customers and colleagues, who can often control their cards online – checking their balance and transaction history, for example. There is also the ability to cancel a card if it is lost or stolen. 

Some electronic gift cards enable businesses to restrict the purchase of certain products. For example, if you wanted to restrict the sale of items such as cigarettes, it is simple to do this with an electronic gift card but this would be impossible with a paper voucher. 

Convenience and choice

Businesses value gift cards and vouchers because of their convenience and choice. Gift vouchers and cards are easy to administer and take delivery of. 

There are a huge variety of vouchers and cards available, from retail vouchers through to experiential cards and even ethical schemes encouraging eco-friendly products. 

All of them offer customers and employees the gift of choice, leaving the final decision of what they are spent on to the individual but still providing the recipient with an informed selection. 

Another benefit is the fact that businesses can make savings by bulk buying vouchers and cards. Many voucher and card suppliers offer substantial discounts when buying a high volume of cards or vouchers, an attractive prospect in the current financial climate.

In summary 

  • During difficult financial times, gift vouchers and cards are an increasingly popular and cost-effective way to boost sales and reward colleagues.
  • They can be used to add value to promotions, increase customer loyalty, long service, meeting objectives and targets or simply to say thank you.
  • Ensure you choose a voucher or card that offers the recipients the gift of choice.
  • If buying in bulk, do not forget to ask for a discount – most providers will offer one.
  • Consider what is more appropriate for your customers or employees – paper or plastic. Both have advantages and meet different needs.

Sarah Chesterton
Commercial manager business services
Sainsbury’s

PO Box 138
Annitsford
Cramlington
NE23 7WL

T: 0870 010 1351
E: info@sainsburysbusinessdirect.co.uk
W: www.sainsburysbusinessdirect.co.uk

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