Paper Pinups vs Credit Card Machines: Which One Raises More Money?


People always ask me if there's a good alternative to traditional paper pinups. The answer is maybe.

My friend and fellow cause marketer Scott Henderson sent me this picture of a register program at Radio Shack that prompts shoppers to support LIVESTRONG after they've swiped their credit card. I prefer the credit card machine because there is no paper waste from the pinups, which will all end up in the trash after the program is done.

There's one problem: promotions involving credit card machines may not be as effective and lucrative as paper pinups.

My former colleague Holt Murray and I discussed this on Twitter.

First, if there is no activation from the cashier (i.e. "Would you like to donate a dollar to fight cancer?") nothing will happen. But this is true with paper pinups as well. No ask, no gift.


Second, the credit card machine is not a place where shoppers want to linger. As Holt points out, he just wants to get through the transaction as quickly as possible.

Third, the credit card machine just seems a lot easier to opt-out of. One thing that's great about pinups is people have to acknowledge to the cashier - and everyone around them - that "Yes, I will donate a dollar." That's not the case with the credit card machine. It's interesting what people do when no one is looking.

However, there are almost as many good reasons to use the credit card machine. You'll save money not printing pinups. Ann Taylor, CVS, Auto Zone and Williams-Sonoma raise millions for charities with credit card machine programs. But these programs happen at thousands of stores and the volume of foot traffic work in the charity's favor. Credit card machines are also great for businesses that don't want to display pinups in the store.

But if you're doing a local program with a retailer you may want to test to see which one performs better. Half the stores could do pinups, the other half credit card machines.

It's definitely easier to swipe and donate, but it may be even easier to swipe and NOT donate. That's one sale you don't want to miss.

Have you used paper pinups and credit card machines? Which one has worked better for you?