|Offering gift certificates is an excellent way of increasing your sales by solving your customers' gift-giving problems. Often people would like to give your products as gifts, but are hesitant to choose a specific item for someone.|
I'm a jewelry artist, and when I realized I was losing sales to these potential customers, I started offering gift certificates - and discovered a wonderful sales tool.
Wherever you sell your products - at retail locations, shows, home parties - be sure to have an eye-catching sign advertising "Gift Certificates Available in Any Amount". And tell undecided customers about it verbally, too, emphasizing the benefits of a gift certificate, and how much their recipient will enjoy choosing the exact item they want.
How to Make Your Own Gift Certificates:
Use your computer and printer to make special, fancy certificates using perforated paper or postcard stock you can find in office supply stores, and have matching fancy envelopes to go with them. They don't need to cost you very much, but they should really look like a special, festive gift to give them extra appeal!
Consider adding enticing photos of some of your most popular products. My gift certificates have a neat vertical border of jewelry photos on each side.
Here's the information your gift certificates should have on them:
- your business name and location, plus other contact info
- a "To:" line
- a "From:" line
- an "Amount:" line (for the dollar amount)
- "custom orders welcome", if applicable
- the expiration date, if you want to limit the time period the certificate can be used
- the certificate's unique number - on your computer or by hand, print a unique number (101, 102, 103, etc., or whatever numbering works for you) on each certificate's bottom corner, so each can be individually accounted for.
When you sell the certificate, you should write the dollar amount and expiration date (if any) on the certificate yourself, and then have the person purchasing the certificate fill out the To and From lines, so it will be in their own handwriting for the recipient to see. Then enter the certificate's information in your log.
How to Keep a Gift Certificate Log:
It's important to keep a log of each gift certificate you sell. Keeping a record of each certificate sold will ensure that you don't wind up honoring a counterfeit certificate, or one with a changed dollar amount when someone comes to use it. My log has 6 columns, and for each certificate I sell, I record in my log:
- the certificate's unique number
- the purchaser's name
- the recipient's name
- the date sold
- the dollar amount of the certificate
- the date redeemed
- optional seventh column: expiration date.
I keep my log sheet and a stack of ready-to-sell certificates together in a two-pocket folder, along with a fancy pen for filling out the gift certificates in style when they're sold.
Use Gift Certificates to Their Fullest Profit Potential:
Gift certificates can be a great source of back-end sales. When the recipient comes to redeem the gift certificate, it's easy to sell her an add-on item or two. Often she is already predisposed to splurge on something to go with the item she's getting for free with her gift certificate, and needs only a little encouragement from you to purchase extras. For example, in my case, the recipient will often purchase matching earrings to go with the bracelet she gets for free with her gift certificate. So be sure to show enticing things to the recipient that could accompany the item she chooses for her gift!
Use a gift certificate sale as an opportunity to add two new customers to your mailing list: the person who purchased the certificate, and the person who received it. Obtain permission from each to add them to your mailing list. Both of them are now pre-sold on your products, your service, and especially on your solutions to their gift-giving problems. There's a good chance they will respond favorably when they receive a special offer from you before gift-giving holidays.
Rena Klingenberg is a jewelry artist and small business owner. Her websites, http://www.trade-show-booth-display.com and http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com , are filled with new success tips and articles to help other small businesses market their products.
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