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Building a brand: developing the West Lothian Gift Card

With a new Scotland Loves Local Gift Card for West Lothian, Nairn Pearson, BID & Town Centres Manager, and Stewart Ness, Tourism and Town Centre Manager, set out to promote the gift card to customers.

“To complement the promotional work that had been carried out by colleagues in West Lothian Council, the destination marketing organisation Visit West Lothian created a Facebook page for the West Lothian Gift Card. This gave the campaign a distinctive, consumer focused voice in West Lothian which harnesses the key message of ‘Shop West Lothian’.

“To make it appealing to a consumer audience, we needed engaging content and felt that photography and video was the best way to achieve this. A photographer was hired to go around our local businesses, asking them 5 simple questions to generate this content, including ‘what would you recommend to a customer visiting your business for the first time’, and ‘what is your USP as a business’. The photographer then took a picture of the owner at their business with the gift card, and ideally, a 5 second video too.

“We had a really good response to the content generation, particularly for the questions and the photos. Around 20% of owners were happy to be featured in a video too. Once we had the text and image or video, we’d craft a personable post that was friendly and engaging, with an important message that this is why you should be buying a gift card, and these are the types of businesses you can buy from. From this phase of work with the photographer, we were able to create 10-12 different posts, scheduled across social media and with a bit of paid advertising behind them. As we move forwards and keep on adding businesses, we’ll keep on adding to that content too.

Having the number and mix of businesses on board the West Lothian Gift Card is key

“Having the number and mix of businesses on board the West Lothian Gift Card is key, and we’ve been trying to reach out to them using a combination of email, physical visits, and through partners. It does require both dedication and resource, but we see this as a long term project that will gather momentum over time and as we reach the critical mass of businesses.

“As at May 2022, we have over 80 businesses and outlets on board, and everything from garages and florists to cafés and pubs. We want to build the hospitality side particularly, this will enable us to build gift card itineraries both geographically and thematically. There will always be businesses in any given area that will champion the gift card, local authorities can engage with these people to promote their Scotland Loves Local Gift Card. Many of the new businesses sign ups we’ve had have been driven by others signing up.

People can pick up a West Lothian Gift Card and get something unique that they can’t get anywhere else

“Independent businesses are key for us too, so that people can pick up a West Lothian Gift Card and get something unique that they can’t get anywhere else. This is what will draw people into West Lothian and encourage them to buy a West Lothian Gift Card. The bottom line is that it has to be an appealing product for people to buy, otherwise they won’t buy it.

“The next phase of promotion for the West Lothian Gift Card includes community events, and gifting occasions. The West Lothian Amateur Photography competition will have a theme of community this year, and we’ll be using the gift card as a prize. We’ll have listicle style articles for gifting occasions like Mother’s Day, such as the top 5 places to spend your West Lothian Gift Card this Mother’s Day.

“Corporate sales will also be key. We’ll be making contact with the heads of services in the coming weeks, with an attempt to answer their question of why they should switch to giving their staff a West Lothian Gift Card instead of what they use currently. The main benefit of course, is that in doing so, their particular service will be locking money into West Lothian, and bringing more value to all involved.

“As well as a product for consumer and corporate sales, we also look forward to exploring other uses for the West Lothian Gift Card, as a marketing tool, and for disbursement initiatives. The potential for our gift card in West Lothian is huge.”