Marshalls Is Nabbing Facebook Fans With Gift Card Giveaway

Discount retailer Marshalls launched a Facebook-specific promotion Thursday aimed at simultaneously promoting its merchandise and building its fan base, and it’s noteworthy for its depth and creativity.

Marshalls is promoting its Unlock Your Shopportunity application-driven contest charity on its web site and with Facebook ad buys (not homepage ads), which seems to be working, as in the time it took to write this story several thousand fans joined the Page, which now has almost 100,000. The app implements merchandise into the questions and has a countdown clock noting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the chance to win the first prizes arrives.

Unlock Your Shopportunity runs for three weeks from April 8 – 27 and will award one grand prize of a $5,000 store gift card, one first prize of a $1,000 gift card every week and 25 gift cards of $50 each week. The app requires users to become a fan, take an easy quiz about Marshalls and, depending on the users’ score on the quiz, they are awarded a virtual key and then the Page prompts the user to publish a notification to their Wall about the promotion. To redeem the key, users must visit the Marshalls Facebook Page on specified days and “redeem” their key to see if they’ve been selected to win.

We wrote about department stores marketing on Facebook, noting that several incorporated apps and gift cards, but the Marshalls app is different for several reasons. First off, Marshalls seems to be promoting its Facebook Page a whole lot more than other companies we’ve seen, not only within Facebook with ads, but on its company web site the Facebook Page is promoted no less than three times, most prominently with a video referring visitors to Facebook for the Shopportunity promotion.

Secondly, the promotion is combined with a charity drive for Dress for Success, a group that helps disadvantaged women by providing them with professional clothing and career development to help them succeed in the workplace. Marshalls is donating $1 (up to $100,000) for every fan that earns a key by taking the Shopportunity quiz.

Finally, Marshalls’ promotion involves an active time element requiring users who have earned keys by taking the quiz to return on specified days to see if they are winners — that may or may not work out for the company. Although Marshalls sent out a note with instructions on Monday reminding users to re-visit the Page Wednesday to redeem their key, whether or not users will do it is another question. On the one hand, stringing along thousands of app users over several weeks could have advantages for the company and its fan Page, on the other hand, it could have disastrous consequences for people fully participating in the promotion. It’s an interesting idea that we haven’t seen very often as far as promotions go.

The rest of Marshalls’ Page is well done. There’s a Live Event tab for a Shopportunity event promotion in New York City, pretty regular events listed on that tab, lots of Notes are included on the Page (including the official rules for the contest), photos of merchandise make up the albums and there’s a pretty active Wall of hard core Marshalls lovers.

For more information about how to use apps, contests and other marketing strategies on Facebook check out the Inside Facebook Marketing Bible and our new service, Inside Facebook Gold.