Jonathan Antin Shares His Secrets to Selling Gift Cards OnlineA 2013 report by the National Retail Federation revealed that gift card spending will reach a new record this holiday season; more than 80 percent of shoppers in the United States are expected to purchase at least one card!

Is your salon ready to reap the benefits of the impending gift card boom?

We asked Jonathan Antin, celebrity hair stylist and co-owner of renowned Beverly Hills salon, Jonathan & George Salon, to share his tips:

Q: Why offer gift cards?

A: Three words: convenient, customizable and digital. There's no easier way to promote your services during the holidays than by selling gift cards through your website. Consumers are shopping online - they want a fast and seamless option, and it doesn't get faster or more seamless than visiting a salon's website, buying a gift card for a selected service, and having it emailed instantaneously to a friend or relative - all in a few clicks! Programs like MINDBODY salon software offer options to sell gift cards online.

Q: Holidays don't last forever - how do gift cards help salons in the long term?

A: Count on gift cards complementing your client growth and retention efforts. The most powerful way to attract new clients to your salon continues to be through word of mouth, or personal referrals. Gift cards are essentially that - in a different form! When a consumer buys a gift card, they're saying to their friend or family member, ‘Hey, go get your hair done at this salon - I trust them.’ This new client will come in, and likely return to you as a repeat client, because trust was there from the start.

Q: How can gift cards market salons?

A: A big part of marketing your salon is brand exposure. A gift card in the hands of a consumer is a walking advertisement - great for your brand's visibility. Some salons may choose to offer reloadable cards, which can be used again and again, encouraging repeat business along with building client loyalty. Rewarding frequent spenders or valuable clients with a gift card can also work to place your brand in more hands.

Q: What’s the best way to manage and promote a successful gift card campaign?

A: Follow these four steps and you’re golden:

1: Determine your payment methods - have a process for selling and accepting online gift cards that's streamlined and integrated into your existing salon management software. That’s critical.

2: Promote your gift cards inside and out! To get the word out, incorporate signage and messaging inside your salon, on your website, and in client communications and newsletters.

3: Make the most out of your campaign! Cross-promote your gift cards with other services - i.e., "purchase a deep conditioning treatment and receive a free gift card," incorporate gift cards into a special holiday/winter promotion, or reward high spending clients with a gift card as part of your loyalty program. Holiday campaigns are critical - most merchants that offer gift cards sell the most during holiday season, so now is the time to capitalize. Be creative!

4: Manage and monitor your gift card inventory. If this is your first experience with gift cards, prepare in advance to ensure the online purchase process is smooth. Use your salon management software to help you track sales or designate a staff member to oversee the campaign.

Ready to roll? MINDBODY salon software includes the ability to sell gift cards online, customize gift cards with your business logo, and allow customers to email virtual gift cards to their friends and family.

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