by Alex Palmer | May 01, 2017
Patriot Marketing Group is a well-known name in the incentive industry. One big reason for that is its 22-year relationship with Foot Locker, as the provider of the foot- and sportwear giant's B2B gift cards. But Dennis Borst, Patriot Marketing Group's president and chief operating officer, emphasizes that while Foot Locker is a big part of his portfolio, it is just one of the many consumer promotions, ad specialty campaigns, and gift card programs Patriot oversees these days. This variety of programs points to the shifting landscape of consumer and employee incentives and gift cards.  

One of the most successful programs the Los Angeles-based Patriot is currently overseeing are incentive programs to encourage consumers to take test drives.

"We have an automated system where dealers get lists of known drivers of competitive vehicles, then use email and direct mail to lure the drivers into the dealership with offers of open-loop Visa or Mastercard gift cards," explains Borst.

Once the drivers get to the dealership, they take the car for a spin and the dealer logs their information into Patriot's test-drive system, which can organize the data by retailer, zone, buying history, and more. The test-driver then receives a gift card via mail or email, and the car company and its dealers or agency receive a valuable lead.

"No one wanted to do these in 2008 when car companies were failing," says Borst. "That's when I jumped at the opportunity and agreed at that time to 180-day billing. We automated it and made ourselves more valuable to the car company and it's turned into good business for us, with high visibility." 

What's most exciting to Borst right now is Patriot's promotional products partnership with the KTLA 5 Morning News in Los Angeles. Broadcasting every weekday morning, with an audience that rivals top national morning shows, the morning show has tapped Patriot for its on-air promotions and ad specialty products. 

"We do the apparel worn by news crews in the field -- rain jackets, hats, umbrellas -- and do promotions on air and giveaways for events like the L.A. Marathon, food drives, and MLK Day parade," says Borst. "They just did a spin-and-win where you text in to a number and if they select your entry, one of the anchors spins a wheel and you could win the mugs the anchors have on their desk in the morning, or win a gift card."

He's also working with In-N-Out Burger, doing branded water bottles, coffee mugs, and more for the store openings of the fast-expanding brand. 

But while Patriot has a lot going on, "gift cards are going very strong," according to Borst, with Foot Locker Gift Card Sales doubling its business each year for the last three consecutive years. He attributes this to a few factors, Patriot's embrace of digital gift cards chief among them. 

"We were early adopters and have had the e-card for seven or eight years now," says Borst. "Last year, two-thirds of all the cards we sold were virtual. A lot of that has to do with our audience skewing somewhat younger (even though grandmas all wear athletic shoes). They do a lot of online buying."

Also helping stoke growth is that Foot Locker cards have proven popular as rewards in credit card company loyalty program -- in which digital cards have proven especially popular.

"If consumers order a Foot Locker gift card from a loyalty program, they get it in their email inbox within 24 hours," says Borst.

Though he's been in the gift card sector for more than three decades, Borst continues to be excited by its possibilities.

"I could've retired years ago," he says, "but we're having fun."