Why gift cards are better than cash
If you're like most veterinary practice owners and managers, you're always looking for new marketing methods, especially the "sticky" kind. You want advertisements and marketing campaigns that get people talking and prompt new clients to stick around. You might put together a new client packet, complete with informational brochures and coupons for future visits. Or maybe you hand out T-shirts, stickers, magnets, or other promotional items in hopes of getting the practice's name out there.
But rather than giving clients more stuff they don't want or need, what if your marketing program could put a smile on their faces? And what if it could make them think of your practice when they buy something they love, be it a nice meal or a new pair of shoes?
Patrick Maslar, co-owner of Family Veterinary Clinic in Gambrills, Md., has figured out a way to meet both of those goals. Maslar uses custom-made gift cards to lure new clients from the nearby tightly knit communities.Maslar places ads in the area's small weekly newspaper and in two different local phone books. These ads offer $25 Visa gift cards to people who visit Family Veterinary Clinic for the first time. The cards are emblazoned with the practice's logo and colors, a branding effort that costs far less than the ads themselves.
The practice's most recent direct-mail campaign also showcased the branded cards. Maslar promised $25 gift cards to new residents and also included a list of local businesses. "The idea was for new residents to go explore the neighborhood on us," he says. Maslar asked local businesses he knew and liked—a printer, a bike shop, a couple of restaurants, and a martial arts studio—if they wanted to be included free of charge.
Maslar says the gift cards have been overwhelmingly well-received by new clients and drawn more attention than $50 cash for referrals from existing clients. "They're an attractive commodity, and people seem to think it's better than money," Maslar says.