The Untapped Potential of B2B Gift Card Sales for Downtowns and Chambers

United States businesses spent more than $90 billion on non-cash employee incentives in 2016, according to The Incentive Federation’s Incentive Marketplace Research Study. That massive total, up 17% from three years previous, includes $14.4 billion in travel and $75.6 billion in other incentives like awards points, merchandise, and … you guessed it … gift cards.

If you’re a downtown association or chamber association with a gift card program, think about what even a fraction of that $75.6 billion dollars could mean to you.

It’s typical for a downtown or chamber association to focus on marketing its gift card program to the public with a focus on the individual, through banner ads online, collateral on display at participating merchant locations, and on-the-street promotion during community events. And there’s no reason to stop – out-of-towers and residents alike love the convenience and personalized feel of a local custom-loop gift card program. But without specifically communicating and marketing your gift card offerings to area businesses – those that don’t fit the profile to become a member of your association but still contribute to the culture and economy of your city of town – you might be missing out on bulk orders totaling huge amounts of revenue.

After all, even the most enthusiastic of residents, tourists and other individual shoppers are likely to purchase a gift card with a denomination of just two (or, if you’re lucky, three) digits.  Large corporations, on the other hand, are spending much more on employee incentives annually.

For example, if a local corporation with 150 employees buys each of them a $100 gift card to hand out for recognition of a work anniversary, birthday, or end-of-year bonus, that’s $15,000 to your program right there. Area corporations have the capability and the likelihood to spend much more than any individual ever would.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Not only does your association reap the benefit of a corporation’s initial gift card order, your members reap the benefits when those employees use the cards. Recent statistics show 65% of gift card holders spend an extra 38% beyond the value of the card, and that translates to revenue for your members.

Plus, after employees receive a gift card that’s easy to redeem at a variety of variety of locations, they’re more likely to keep your gift card program in mind when they have an individual gift of their own to buy.

By prioritizing local businesses (say, those corporations within a five mile radius that are not members of your association) when you market your gift card program, you’re capitalizing on foregone spend capability, driving value to your own merchants, and publicizing your gift card program all at once.

When it comes to gift card sales for your downtown or chamber, remember – businesses are people too.

Are you ready to revitalize your downtown or chamber?