Make Your Business Cards Work

What's the cheapest, most under-used marketing tool you have?

The answer's no secret ... it's your business cards. If you aren't making them work for you, you may be missing an excellent opportunity at leveraging a cost effective marketing tool.

By the time you have read this article, you'll know several ways in which you can increase your profits by wringing every last cent of value from the advertising power of business cards.

Business card content

Everyone knows what a business card contains, so I'll keep this brief and focus on what some people don't have on their cards.

  • Every possible way to contact you. Don't just give your address and telephone number - give it all; fax, phone, mobile, email, street address, postal address and if you're keen, an after hours contact
  • Your Internet site URL. If you have one, put it on EVERYTHING
  • In Australia your Australian Business Number or Australian Company Number (or equivalent elsewhere). People may not deal with you if they think you are not equipped to handle Goods and Services Tax or are too small to have an ABN or ACN
  • Use the back to advertise. This can change each time you print or you can summarise - in dot point, the services you offer which are not always obvious from your name.
  • A byline. If you don't want to advertise on the back, think of using a byline, a short statement about what you do, 'Producers of the best hamburgers in Cuba'
  • Colour and professional design. People like colour. They like attractive design. Make sure your cards have both
  • Cost effective advertising

    The last supply of business cards I bought cost me 0.07 cents Australian per card; the last classified advertisement I lodged cost me $72. While the newspaper advertisement will get much more coverage for a day or two, I have no control over who reads it. Among those who do, thousands will have no personal interest in my offer and still others might never get to the classified advertisements pages. Many will throw out the paper in a day or so and my three line ad will be gone forever from their houses and minds.

    With my business cards, however, I can target where and when I leave them or to which individuals I hand them in order to get the greatest advantage. Of course, there is never a guarantee that where I leave them will result in sales, but at least people do keep business cards. The idea is to increase probability ... the probability that the recipient will want my goods or services. Here's an example.

    Target marketing

    Recently I attended a workshop about Email Marketing which was also attended by about 50 others. As the products I sell include three high capacity email management software systems, this was an opportunity I couldn't miss. I left a card at every place mat on every table.

    If the target audience was interested in email marketing, wasn't there a probability they might also be interested in email software? Sure enough, I received 11 enquiries within a few days of the workshop and sold three copies of the software.

    Had the workshop been about 'The Metallurgical Use of Sodium Cyanide' how successful do you think I would have been?

    When you use target marketing, you may have to offer a financial incentive for someone to distribute - or allow you to distribute - your card. If someone asks for a commission to distribute my business card, I'm happy to oblige, but I also expect to be allowed to leave a brochure. The incentive I offer is this: If you agree for me to leave my sales brochure, I'll use a code within the brochure that lets me identify a sale as coming from your workshop, shop, seminar or whatever. For every sale I'll give you a percentage commission.

    If you do this often, you can set up an affiliate program through Clickbank, Sharesale or someone else who provides affiliate management programs. But I don't create affiliates for short-term ventures that may last only a few weeks, it's too much work.

    Depending on the goods or services you sell, you can leave your business cards at business offices. For example, when I visit a real estate office I see business cards for insurance brokers. When I go to the insurance brokers, I see cards from real estate businesses. This can be a mutually beneficial arrangement that costs nobody. If you do it though, you must ensure you don't neglect your business card holder ... keep it stocked.

    When you get a chance, identify those businesses whose customers may also want your complementary products or services. Talk with the owners/proprietors and see if you can arrange to leave your cards there. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Even your friendly Chinese Cafe may be a good place to get some exposure. A cafe I visit every couple of months has a cork wall board bristling with business cards. Every time I go there I leave three or four of mine. They always need replacing, so someone is taking them. And let's face it, they aren't good for much else but reading.

    Ask your friends to pass your cards to people they know -their sphere of influence - referral is an excellent method of marketing. Hand them out to people you meet at work - at play - anywhere if you feel they are prospective clients.

    At the end of the day, you need to use every conceivable method to keep your firm's name in front of as many people as possible. After all, if they don't know you exist, why will they call you when next they want a new batch of widgets?

    The cheap, humble business card can be a very effective marketing tool if you use it wisely. How well are you using yours?

    Copyright Robin Henry 2005

    Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer whose firm, Desert Wave Enterprises, helps individuals and businesses improve their performance by using smart processes, smart technology and personal development. He lives at Alice Springs In Central Australia, but his online presence is available worldwide eg, lately he has been assisting US-based firms deal with Australian Government under the US-AUS Fair Trade Agreement.

    Visit Desert Wave Enterprises.

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