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Gift certificates can be good promotional tools for your small business. Use them to expand your reach into the community you serve.
Gift certificates can take different forms. Think of them as upscale coupons. Some business owners print them on post cards and mail them--to existing customers or to a mailing list. Other business owners hire an artist to create a special certificate for that business only. Stock gift certificates are available at office supply stores--just fill in the blanks.
Example: Elena operates a wellness center. She started out as a specialist in several types of massage. She expanded by bringing in other specialists--in yoga, hypnosis, nutrition, and more. She has used gift certificates in various denominations to be used for massages. This promotes the center and the other specialists benefit as well. Clients use the gift certificates Elena hands out for themselves--they are made out in the client's name. They also buy gift certificates to be used as gifts for their friends.
Gift certificates can be for any amount and still be effective. With an amount printed on the gift certificate, it has the feel of real dollars. A $10 certificate can be just as effective as one for $100--depending on the circumstances. Either one can return to you in the hand of a new client.
Example: Takira is an artist, a designer who makes jewelry and small accessories for women. She specializes in using unusual materials--no gold or silver here. What she is selling is her unique and creative ability to bring together everyday things in new ways--pins, earrings, bracelets, necklaces. These sell for prices beginning at $25 and going up to $125. She hands out $5 gift certificates to people. The certificates carry a one-month expiration date but no name--anyone can use them. These bring customers back to Takira or they pass them on to friends. The $5 is prominently displayed--it feels like money and works better than a 20% off coupon.
Try gift certificates in your own operation. You can have them printed for handing out, or you can add to your website. They keep you in the minds of your existing clients, and they can get passed around--bringing you referrals.
Many small businesses hand out gift certificates or cards to employees--for holidays or to reward excellent performance. You win, the employee wins, and the business that issues them wins.