Bancography | Branch Planning, Marketing Research, Brand Strategy, Products & Profitabilty

New $100 Bill Coming – 11 Ways To Exploit This Rare Marketing Opportunity

Meet the new $100 bill, the world’s most popular bank note. The new currency will start circulating October 8, leaving you a few months to come up with a promotion centered around this rare event.

This is only the fourth time in the venerated $100 bill’s history that its design has been changed, so take advantage of this opportunity. Smart financial marketers who start planning now should have no trouble coming up with clever ways to integrate the new $100 design into a marketing campaign. Here are a few ideas to get you jumpstart your creative juices.

1. Hand out free money

You want to get people’s attention? And a ton of free press while you’re at it? Starting handing out free money in public. Just be sure to bring your camera. You could incorporate this idea into the “Pay it Forward” or “Cash Mob” concepts.

2. Free samples from the vault

Businesses in every other industry give away their inventory — whether you’re talking about free cupcakes or free air travel — so why not banks and credit unions? Money is the one thing everyone wants, but financial institutions seem reluctant to give it away. Why is that? Why not invite people to enter a raffle for “free samples from the vault?” You can have the contest online, offline, or both.

3. Money machine

There are few amusements at live events as alluring as those booths that blow cash around. Lucky consumers get to step inside for a predetermined amount of time and snatch all the cash they can from the monetary whirlwind. It’s fun for everyone, and relatively easy to control risk/exposure/costs.

4. ATM bonus

Randomly swap out a few $20s with new $100s in one ATM (or more). To get the biggest bang for your bucks, announce when, where and for how long the ATM(s) will be loaded with bonus hundreds. A few years ago, one credit union timed this idea to coincide with a new branch opening, generating huge volumes of foot traffic and brand awareness.

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( Read More: ATM Hands Out Wads Of Cash To Nice People )

5. Guessing game

Guessing game (online version). You could take a page out of First National Bank’s marketing playbook. They came up with a brilliantly simple Facebook promotion that’s a spin on the age-old guessing game made popular at county fairs in the 20th century — e.g., guess how many pennies are in this jar. They took a picture of some piles of cash, posted it on Facebook, and invited participants to guess the total sum. The closest guess won a cash prize. The contest post generated 1,202 ‘Likes’ (3x what they had when they started), 514 shares and nearly 20,000 comments.

Guessing game (in-branch/offline version). If you want to build branch foot traffic, just turn the “guessing game” concept into a real, live promotion. Make a display with some assortment of bills and ask branch visitors to guess the amount. Be sure to tell the public about the contest and give the promotion adequate marketing support. (Alternate version: put the display in a shopping mall for increased exposure and PR value.)

6. Use $100 bills in a product promotion

People love cash, so be conspicuous with the new $100 design and slap images of it all over your campaigns. You can use $100 bills as product incentives — “get a crisp new $100 bill when you [X].” Or give away a big stack of $100s as part of a broad sweepstakes. Few things are sexier than a wrapped wad of $10,000. Or you could do both — a $100 product incentive and a $10K grand prize giveaway — for the one-two punch.

7. Pull a guerilla stunt

When you’re talking about cash, there are a million different things a guerilla marketer can come up with. How about this idea? You could go out in public and drop some “lost wallets” around with a new $100 bill in it, then film people’s reactions and make a YouTube video.

( Read More: Honest Aussies Ambushed By Bank’s Elaborate ‘Lost Property’ Gag )

8. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt (offline version). Give people a series of clues to where they might find a $100 bill hidden somewhere in the real world. Or you can provide a long list of challenging and elaborate clues that lead to a single big cash prize. Tip: Radio stations love partnering with marketers on scavenger hunts.

Scavenger hunt (online version). You could get people to explore your online channels by “hiding” small $100 images on your website, Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc. Those who find all the images either win a prize or are entered in a sweepstakes for a prize. One credit union doubled their web traffic when they did something similar.

9. Financial education

For kids, you can recount the history of the $100 bill, and give them a tour of all the note’s special features. The oodles of details, rich stories and historical Americana imbued in the design of the $100 bill are sure to fascinate kids of all ages. For adults, you can use the release of a new $100 design as an excuse to talk about the value of money — what $100 can buy you today vs. yesterday, or what $100 would be worth if invested for X number of years.

10. Trivia game

The $100 bill gives you so much material to work with that developing some sort of trivia game should be a breeze. You can design a game that is purely fun and recreational (say for Facebook), or one with points and prizes.

11. Get spooky

The new bills will be released on October 8, just 23 days before Halloween. If this unusual and ghoulish holiday doesn’t scare your management team, you might consider coming up with a promotion than blends the new $100 bill with costumes, candy, etc.

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( Read More: People React Strangely in Money Tree Experiment )

New $100 Bill Bristles With Security Features

Over a decade of research and development went into security features for the new $100 bill. The new note has two special advanced security measures: the 3-D security ribbon and the bell in the Inkwell. Both offer a simple yet subtle way to verify that a new $100 note is genuine. Three security features from the previous design have been retained and updated in the new bill, while several additional features have been added to protect its integrity.

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( Read More: UK Consumers Not Ready To Forgo Cash, Even If They Hardly Use It )

Security Ribbon. One of the most noticeable changes is the addition of a blue ribbon on the front of the note. When you tilt the note back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon, you will see little bells change to 100s as they move. When you tilt the note back and forth, the bells and 100s move side to side. If you tilt it side to side, they move up and down. How cool is that? The ribbon is woven into the paper, not printed on it.

Bell in the Inkwell. American currency has long been mocked as being dull and colorless compared to other countries money. Not any more, with the addition of a bright copper-colored inkwell on the new $100’s face. There is color-shifting bell inside this inkwell — changing from copper to green, an effect which makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the inkwell.

Security Thread. Hold the note to light to see an embedded thread that runs vertically to the left of the portrait. The thread is imprinted with the letters USA and the numeral 100 in an alternating pattern and is visible along the thread from both sides of the note. The thread glows pink when illuminated by ultraviolet light.

Color-Shifting 100. Tilt the note to see the numeral 100 in the lower right corner of the note shift from copper to green.

Raised Printing. Move your finger up and down Benjamin Franklin’s shoulder on the left side of the note. It should feel rough to the touch, a result of the enhanced intaglio printing process used to create the image. Traditional raised printing can be felt throughout the $100 note, and gives genuine U.S. currency its distinctive texture.

Gold 100. Look for a large gold numeral 100 on the back of the note. It helps those with visual impairments distinguish the denomination.

Microprinting. Look carefully for small printed words which appear on Benjamin Franklin’s jacket collar, around the blank space where the portrait watermark appears, along the golden quill, and in the note borders.

Portrait and Vignette. A portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, remains on the front of the new $100 note. On the back, there is a new vignette of Independence Hall featuring the back, rather than the front, of the building. The ovals around the portrait and the vignette have been removed and the images have been enlarged.

Color. The background color of the new $100 note is pale blue. Color adds a layer of complexity to the design of the $100 note and differs with each denomination to help distinguish them. Because color can be duplicated by potential counterfeiters, it should not be used to verify the authenticity of the note.


EditorJoin hundreds of the brightest minds in banking at The Financial Brand Forum, April 30th and May 1st for two full days jam-packed with the latest ideas, insights and innovations in financial marketing. Highlights include keynote speaker Josh Reich from Simple/BBVA, three makeovers live on stage, and an all-star agenda with speakers from Wells Fargo, US Bank, PNC, Navy Federal, Facebook, Nintendo, BMO, banking futurist Brett King and many more!

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