Feature Article - May/June 2017

Call On the Experts

IGCC Offers Solutions, Resources on Gift Card Industry

By Deborah L. Vence

When people want to know more about a gift card provider, are looking for networking opportunities or need business resources, the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) is a top choice for information.

"IGCC is the only trade association focused exclusively on providing awareness of gift cards as a viable option for use in premium and incentive programs," said Lindsay Gale, IGCC president and senior manager, partnerships, Tango Card Inc. "As a strategic industry group within the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), IGCC members benefit from a wealth of resources and opportunities across the entire industry, from gift cards to travel to merchandise to solution providers."

The Minneapolis-based organization provides incentive industry insights, education and networking opportunities for gift card brands and their distribution, agency and vendor partners.

"IGCC members truly are the industry experts," added Ashley Harris, IGCC board director, senior director of strategic partnerships, National Gift Card Corporation (NGC), a Crystal Lake, Ill.-based marketer and supplier of gift cards for use in loyalty, incentive and rewards programs.

"When someone is looking for a gift card provider or merchant, you want someone who really knows the industry and can bring an array of knowledge and resources to the table," she said. "Our members pay attention to emerging issues, such as fraud and security, and are better prepared to provide solutions with this in mind. We're also on top of emerging trends, so we can help people look at where gift cards are going and provide solutions with an inherent longer-term benefit."

Dennis Borst, president and COO, Patriot Marketing Group, added, "The IGCC gives its members a forum to share common information, ward off potential fraudulent buyers, and create a singular stance in the incentive engagement world."

The Importance of the IGCC

"We (IGCC) are the heart and soul of the incentive gift card world," said Jim Atten, IGCC executive vice president, and vice president of sales, North America, RPG Card Services.

"We provide IGCC members the same benefit within gift cards that the IMA provides to all members. We collaborate across channels. We share resources, ideas and knowledge to improve the offerings," he said.

Thus, networking with IGCC members helps the organization to augment its product offerings.

"For example," Harris said, "one of our merchant partners had only e-cards, while at the same time, my customer that wanted this merchant only offered physical cards. Because of my IGCC connections, I was able to provide a solution for the customer."

IGCC membership brings together the leading players from all segments in order to learn about new use cases, build a supportive network, join forces in the battle against fraud and prepare for the future. Member segments include card providers, processors, technology partners, marketing agencies, distribution partners, card printers and more.

"During IGCC member meetings, we invite members and industry leaders to share success stories about a new use case or technology they've recently deployed at their organization," Gale said. "Together, we learn from their experience and discuss which metrics are most valuable to rate the success of the strategy. For example, at our meeting during the 2016 IMA Summit, we learned about referral marketing from an industry expert (Chris Duskin, vice president of marketing, Extole)."

Gift cards and promotional codes play a critical role in motivating referrals, thereby facilitating the acquisition of better customers.

"Did you know that customers referred to a good or service by a friend or family members have a 25 percent higher chance of converting their free trial to a paid subscription? …Or three times more likely to become an advocate themselves? … Have a 15 percent higher Net Promoter Score? …And a 15 percent larger average order value?" Gale added. "Now those are real-life stats our members can use to sell more gift cards. And, all were heard first-hand at one of our member meetings."