Scratching the surface: drawing customers to your stall during events

Many people will associate scratch cards with the get-rich-quick lotto jackpots and packs of EuroMillions cards seen on sale in newsagents and seven-elevens up and down the country.

However, in recent years clever businesses have cottoned on to the fact that everyone loves a game of chance.

In fact, a survey by Derby print company Purely Digital recently asked people what form of marketing material they would be most likely to respond to. Out of over 800 people, almost a quarter said they would pick up and use a scratch card. This was only topped by the ubiquitous ‘flyer’, which collected just less than a third of the votes.

What form of marketing material would you be most likely to respond to once you have picked it up?

Why scratch cards are irresistible

  • Engagement
  • Interaction

To scratch a scratch card is to play a game, albeit a simple one. Nonetheless, most people will recognise that it is hard to pass up the opportunity to give it a go, especially if there is the possibility of a prize at the end. The benefit to marketers is that this both engages customers and encourages them to interact with your brand.

Armed with this knowledge, marketers have set about using scratch cards in clever and inventive ways to gather information, generate interest and promote offers.

Event marketing

One of the most popular tactics in recent times has been for businesses to employ the enticing effects of scratch cards at big events like trade shows.

Recognising the fact that flyers all too often end up in the bin or in a clump at the bottom of a bag, companies with stalls at such events have turned to scratch cards to pull in the punters.

By offering prizes that can be collected either by giving over contact details or from directly visiting a booth, businesses are able to:

  • Advertise products or services
  • Attract new customers to their stall
  • Gather valuable leads and customer data
  • Keep past customers interested and updated
  • Promote a new location or site launch

Scratch card marketing: what you need to know

Starting a scratch card campaign is easy. Follow these simple steps and you will have your scratch cards in the hands of the playing and paying public in no time.

Step 1

Find a printer that is experienced at producing scratch cards. A good printer will be able to help you with many of the decisions you have to make.

Step 2

Think about what you want your scratch card campaign to do for your business. This could be one of the following:

  • Promote new ranges
  • Increase footfall to physical stores
  • Gather leads
  • Reconnect with past customers
  • Advertise new premises

Each of these considerations will impact on how you design your scratch card. Your printer will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Step 3

Choose your design.

Think about the size, shape of your card and the images you want to include.

Your design may include:

Business logo and colours

Tie the scratch cards to your business by matching colours and logo.

Decorative imagery

Think of an interesting and eye-catching theme.

Shape of scratch-off coating

Make the scratch-off area an interesting shape that links to your general theme. Keep the area small, as too much scratching can be tedious.

Type of scratch-off coating

The two options are Silver & Gold latex or foil. The type of scratch-off coating you choose may impact on the colour are able to have.


This should include contact information as well as any promotional messages you may wish to include.

Position of serial number

Serial numbers are used to track the progress of your campaign. This can help you gather valuable customer data and let you know the distribution of your prizes.

However you choose to decorate your scratch cards, the keys points to include are:

  • Information about new products or services
  • Contact details that customers can use to pick up their prizes

Recycling options

For the green-minded, you might like to think about the impact your scratch cards will have on the environment.

Scratch cards can be printed on specially treated recyclable paper. Some printing firms also buy their paper only from environmentally responsible sources. This guarantees that the paper is sourced from forests that are allowed to grow to near maturity before being chopped down and replanted.

Some companies also sign up to a special programme from the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Carbon scheme helps companies offset their carbon footprint by donating money towards the planting of new trees and woodland.

Step 4

Pick a game, any game

The attraction of a scratch card is that it is, in essence, a game. How the game works is up to you. A simple win/lose design tells players whether they have won or lost as soon as they scratch off a single panel. Alternatively, you could include a fruit machine-style game in which players match  images or numbers in order to gain their prizes.

If in doubt, keep it simple. The ultimate aim of your scratch card campaign is to notify potential customers of your products, as well as prompt players to get in touch with their details in order to gain the prizes.

Step 5

Everyone’s a winner with the right prizes

A good tactic is to include a prize on every scratch card. This will guarantee that players make contact — either directly by visiting your booth at a show, or indirectly by sending contact details via the web — in order to pick up their prizes.

Give-aways can be as simple as a bag of popcorn or voucher promising money off the next purchase. The possibility of winning larger prizes can be advertised on the cards themselves. The spread of prizes could be as follows:

  • 1 or 2 large prizes
  • 10 or so medium prizes
  • All other scratch cards offering smaller prizes such as vouchers etc

Another option is to include a code under the scratch-off area that might or might not open a box containing a high-ticket prize such as a laptop or television.

Players would then be required to visit the trade show booth of the company that had commissioned the scratch cards in order to try their luck.

This gives staff the opportunity to talk to prospective customers collect valuable data.

Step 6

Choose the size of your print run

Sometimes smaller print runs designed with a certain demographic in mind can be more cost effective.

Andrew Edmondson, from Purely Digital, advises companies to choose their targets:

“Rather than blanket everyone, it’s better to pick your target audience. For a trade show, choose the volume of footfall you can realistically cope with and aim for slightly higher, but no more.

“A handful of leads that become conversions are much more valuable than many fruitless enquiries, taking up your time but leading nowhere. It will also help to keep down your costs.”

Target the campaign to increase your return on investmnent (ROI)

Assess the cost to see how many scratch cards you can afford

Increasing your investment without a specific plan may not increase your ROI

Targeting your campaign will lead to the best returns

Step 7

Finally, you need to decide how you want to distribute your scratch cards.

You may wish to hand them out at the event itself or send them directly to customers, clients or businesses you know may be attending.

As the survey data shows, scratch cards are effective at capturing the attention of the public. With a little planning, this can be easily harnessed to play an effective role in your business’s marketing strategy.


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