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Gift cards hold a coveted position in the pantheon of rewards, second only to cash.

And some would argue better than cash. Take a moment to remember the last time you received a gift card. Didn’t it feel like being handed the keys to the candy store? Walk in and get anything you want. Sweet!

Now, think about the last time you received a birthday gift from Tante Anna. Those orange socks with little purple fish hand-embroidered at the ankle. “Because you love fishing”, she said. Remember?

That’s reason enough to love gift cards. Yet, some industry pundits disagree.

Has the novelty worn thin?

There is grumbling in the market that that gift cards have seen their day; they’re generic, impersonal and worse, a fallback for people too thoughtless or lazy to choose an actual gift. (This, from people who have never experienced the awkward charade of swooning over orange socks embroidered with purple fish.)

While it’s true that gift cards are not the newest, latest, greatest thing to hit the rewards market, they’re evergreen for good reason. You just can’t beat them as a surprise and delight mechanism and I challenge you to find a single person who would sniff at a gift card. It’s free money. Only better! Here’s why.

Cards offer big rewards in a small package

The thing to remember about cards is that they’re a rewards delivery mechanism. The bigger impact is in the whole rewards experience.

It starts with the card itself. Classic or contemporary, a gift card is a wallet-sized canvas for visual expression of your brand message. Be seriously thankful, wildly congratulatory or boldly brand loyal. People talk about bulging wallets and the end of plastic cards, but there’s something to the visual lure and tangible certainty of a card that holds lasting appeal. It just feels good. And even better, it’s loaded with personal reward possibilities.

Then, there are the various communication touchpoints on the card user’s journey. There are a host of opportunities here to reinforce a rich rewards experience.

Picture this – the card is presented in a custom-designed, branded cardholder with a note of congratulations and clear activation instructions. (Remember, you’re going for a seamless process here.) Time is no issue because personalised online activation is available 24/7. Activation triggers an instant ‘ready, steady, spend’ email (personalised, of course). Regular, transactional communications relay spending, balances and relevant account management information.

It’s a seamless, personalised brand experience that supports an emotional bond with your employees, channel partners and customers.

Cards for every purpose

Cards are nothing if not versatile. That’s why they’re such a popular element in any rewards list. Gift cards are  prepaid, single-use and ideal surprise and delight reward mechanisms. A pleasure to give and to get, gift cards have high perceived value because they represent total freedom to choose personally meaningful rewards. They’re perfect for almost any occasion.

  • Launch a new product
  • Run a short-term promotion
  • Drive traffic in-store
  • Create a special surprise and delight moment for your customers and followers
  • Resolve a service issue with a goodwill gesture
  • Celebrate a staff birthday, anniversary or significant personal event
  • Use as a trade show prize
  • Present as a conference giveaway
  • Include in incentive travel gift packs
  • Offer as a sales sprint incentive

Lasting brand value

You can’t buy the kind of exposure you’ll get with a branded gift card. It’s flashed at the till, shared with friends and shouts VIP. Sure, cards sometimes have a way of disappearing into the dark recesses of a desk drawer. But a gift card will more likely live in a wallet; removed, shuffled, contemplated, safely stored in a secret flap or given pride of place in the front card slot. And every glance sparks a fond memory, reinforcing the brand / reward connection. A little rush of dopamine happiness.

Cards pack flat

There are a lot of brand benefits to cards. But let’s not forget the role of fulfilment in making the whole process both rewarding and easy. The no-nonsense people at Incentive Gift Card Council highlight the beautiful simplicity of gift cards:

“…they pack flat, no assembly required and are never technologically obsolete.”

Seamless fulfilment is a big part of the rewards experience and gift card fulfilment is easy. Cards are quick to order and easy to store. Distribution costs are low – it’s a flat cardholder, after all – and activation is a simple matter of providing clear instructions.

Finding the right supplier

A word of caution here, card fulfilment is easy, but only if you have the right supplier. You can play the Google lottery and take your chances, but better to go with an established business that offers full in-house services, including a dedicated consultant who can give you advice, keep you updated and in the loop with your order, and any technical glitches. Don’t be shy to ask your prospective supplier for a few client references, so that you can gain an objective view of their performance.

The card industry has exploded in recent years and there are plenty of gift card suppliers to choose from. But don’t let cost be your only selection criteria. Look for a partner that will give attention to your account, provide expert advice and help you achieve sustainable success with your program.

Want to find out how cards can add value to your rewards list? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


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