gift card marketing ideas
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

If restaurant gift cards weren’t a staple before, they are becoming one now. Restaurants have to come up with increasingly creative ways to stay in business during the COVID19 pandemic. If you’re not doing gift card marketing yet, keep reading. I will provide a couple of restaurant gift card marketing ideas that will help you increase profits on the spot.

Why you should try gift card marketing for your restaurant

If you’re unsure whether it’s the right choice for you, here are some of the main benefits of gift card marketing.

1. Increases sales immediately

One of the main advantages of selling gift cards at your restaurant is that they provide an immediate cash flow. If your restaurant is currently closed, and you’re only relying on delivery sales, this cash flow could save your business.

Not just that, but when customers eventually redeem their gift card, they might bring in additional cash too. According to FSR magazine, 72% of customers who have a gift card end up spending more than the card’s original value.

2. Brings in new customers

The same article above reveals that 44% of customers found gift cards encouraged them to visit new restaurants that they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

Basically, when your most loyal customers offer gift cards to their friends and family, they actively advocate for your brand. This will translate into an influx of fresh customers who may also become regulars.

3. Boosts your brand recognition

If you want your restaurant’s name to be a staple in people’s households, adopt the gift card business model. When life goes back to normal, people will remember they have a gift card they can use and prioritize your restaurant over others.

4. Virtually cost-free

In the “olden” days, gift cards were pieces of plastic that you had to order at a pretty steep cost. Nowadays, restaurant gift cards have mostly moved online, which drastically reduces costs for you.

In the wake of COVID19, when everyone is trying to limit direct contact, digital gift cards are definitely the way to go. Plus, they’re also more convenient for customers because they get to personalize them online and just use the barcode to redeem them. Ideally, you would sell these on your website, where people can easily download them or receive them via email.

5. Allows loyal customers to support your business

Customers have truly stepped up during this pandemic and helped out restaurants and other small businesses they like. Gift cards are a simple and easy way to give them that opportunity. You get money now, and they get the chance to brighten someone’s day, or why not treat themselves to a future meal at your restaurant.

How to sell restaurant gift cards: 10 gift card marketing ideas

1. Promote, promote, promote

The first and most obvious tip to selling more gift cards is to get more people to see them. That means extensive promotion both online and offline. Come up with gift card marketing slogans like “See you when it’s over” or “Gift this, give back” and make them the center of your promotion strategy.

First, you need to advertise the gift cards online, including your website and social media profiles. Next, display posters and signs in your restaurant: on tabletop stands, on the front door, at the cash register, as stickers in the bathrooms, virtually everywhere customers could see it.

2. Send emails to your subscribers

Email marketing is another excellent way to sell more food gift cards. Send your subscribers list an email letting them know they can purchase gift cards from you and the exact steps they need to follow.

Consider throwing in a promotion as well, like a discount, a free gift card with a larger purchase, or donate a percentage of any gift card purchase to front-line workers. This will tug at your customers’ heartstrings and help you make a difference.

Read more: Restaurant Email Marketing Done Right: 12 Ideas to Woo Customers

3. Encourage people to treat themselves

One of the most creative gift card campaign ideas is to focus not on gift cards as gifts to other people but as treats that people can buy for themselves during these uncertain and stressful times.

via GIPHY

Instead of feeling bad because of it, encourage customers to celebrate self-gifting. They will also feel better knowing they’ve helped out a business that they really care for in the process.

4. Sell gift card bundles

Come up with restaurant gift card ideas that target different groups to widen your reach. For example, target companies and owners who want to do something nice for their employees by selling gift cards in bulk. Offer a discount the more gift cards they purchase to motivate them to buy more.

5. Reward the waitstaff for promoting your gift cards

Your waiters can be your restaurant’s biggest promoters. Motivate them to recommend gift cards to customers who come in by offering bonuses and other incentives.

This can be naturally inserted into the conversation when the customer asks for their bill. To increase the chances of selling more gift cards, include a special deal and mention that it is a one-time, limited offer. Discount restaurant gift cards are difficult to pass up on.

6. Consider partnering up with other businesses for cross-promotion

If you own a restaurant, that doesn’t mean you can only sell gift cards to your establishment. Especially now when businesses are supporting each other through thick and thin. Get in touch with other local companies and propose cross-promoting each other through gift cards.

For example, you could sell gift cards to the local movie theater while they sell cards to your restaurant for the complete dinner and a movie package.

7. Sell different gift cards levels

When it comes to popular restaurant gift cards, there isn’t just one size fits all. Sure, you can sell gift cards that amount to your average check, but you can (and should) also sell higher sums that people can redeem on more than one visit.

This will not only increase the chances of them visiting you twice. It will also probably mean they will go over the leftover limit the second time around. So, if they have a $50 gift card and spend $30 the first time, the second time they come in, they will probably pay at least $10 extra from their pocket.

8. Promote gift cards to your loyalty program members

A general good rule of thumb is to take all of your gift card marketing ideas and consider how you could cross-promote them with other marketing campaigns you have active at that time. For instance, if you have a loyalty program, offer members extra points if they also purchase a gift card. Alternatively, offer a gift card as an incentive for people to join your loyalty program.

9. Organize a contest or a giveaway

Contests and giveaways work for most marketing efforts because they’re incredibly versatile and attractive. Gift card promotion makes no exception. You can kick it into gear by announcing that everyone who buys a gift card will be automatically entered into a contest for a chance to win a free meal.

10. Personalize your gift cards

Finally, brainstorm some unique restaurant gift card presentation ideas. Even if you’re selling digital gift cards, they should still look nice and be appealing to customers. The most important thing to remember when it comes to design is to have your logo front and center.

Use colors that represent your brand and allow customers to personalize the card with a name of their choosing.

Wrapping up

Gift cards have been and continue to be one of the staples of the Coronavirus pandemic for the restaurant industry. Furthermore, they may stick around long before the threat is over. Applying the restaurant gift card marketing ideas above, you too can refresh your marketing efforts and bring in a much-needed influx of cash and customers to your business.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.

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