Marketing Monday – Play Your Cards Right

Business Cards

A 30-second local late news television commercial can run tens of thousands of dollars. A 30-second drive-time radio spot in the same market will cost $500 or more. A billboard on a busy boulevard will run over $10,000 for a month. A yellow page ad? Pass… A small newspaper ad will cost around $400 a column inch. Physical real-world advertising isn’t cheap… or is it?

There is something that is 2” by 3.5” in size that is widely circulated around the world from the smallest of neighborhood shops to the largest of multi-national conglomerates that generally costs pennies per unit to produce and disseminate. You might be asking, “What is this modern miracle?” The answer is the business card. The business card is one of the most powerful marketing pieces you will ever use.

Yes, the lowly business card. That low-tech piece of paper (mostly) and ink. The history of the business card can be traced back to 15th Century China where people would send ahead a card announcing how important or interesting they were ahead of their actual visit. As the idea spread westward to Europe, businesses started to adopt the idea as a method for promotion and notation. Seems we’ve always written things on the backs of business cards. Today some 7 billion business cards are printed every year.

Attorney business card

Your business card is a personal introduction to your business. It is often the first impression shared with someone else about your business. Looking at someone’s business card can tell you a lot about the sort of business this person owns or represents. Is the card beat up with worn corners? That probably is indicative of the upkeep of that store of business. Is the card nothing more than black type on white card stock? We are a century past the time when that would do. A simple boring business card more than likely represents a boring business.

Albert Einstein business card

Conversely, we have all seen business cards that WOW us. Some are printed on actual wood. Some on metal. Wouldn’t it make sense if you made wood eyewear to hand out wood business cards? Or stainless steel or titanium? Wouldn’t you want to work with a company like that? For most businesses, a nice card stock will work wonderfully.

John Norman Optician business card

It’s what you put on those cards that either make or break that introduction. Are the colors of your business card a reflection of your business look? If your store is decorated in earth tones why is your business card printed in blues and reds? If your store is a rich blend of pastels, so too should your business card be as well. Your business card should be a reflection of your business. A good business card should cost under $50 per 1,000 cards. That is just a nickel per card.

You should be handing out your business cards like they are free or almost free though. Did you just visit a new dentist? Give her your business card. Did you just get your oil changed? Give the mechanic your business card. Did you have a nice lunch or dinner out? Leave a business card with the tip. If you sell eyewear or give eye exams, every one of those people is a potential customer or patient. Is spending a nickel work a possible $100 exam or $350 pair of eyeglasses? I would say that ROI works on any ledger.

Who gets business cards in your store or practice? If you answered anything other than everyone, you need to stop being so cheap. As we have already outlined, the ROI of gaining just one more exam or selling one more pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses more than covers the costs of printing business cards. Just as important, is the feeling you give your employees and team members when they get their own business cards with their names on them. Never, let me repeat that, never print business cards with a blank line for your employees to write their name on. It only signifies to your team and your customers alike, that your store or practice has no allegiance to your staff and has huge turnover. Again, a box of business cards costs so little and can mean so much anymore.

Now some will argue that they prefer a digital business card. Yes, they are those who embrace a paperless world. You. A friend. A colleague. Let those who prefer to keep all their business cards digital to take a picture of your business card. The overwhelming majority of the world still exchanges paper business cards and so should you.

While we are on the subject, many thousands of us are getting ready to meet once again at Vision Expo East in New York City or in Europe at 100% Optical, MIDO, or opti. Whether we are buying or selling,  we will invariably ask someone we meet and be asked by those who meet us for a business card. How many trade shows have you been to where you ask for a business card and the reply is “I forgot to bring them”. I promise you, more people will want your business card than your much more expensive brochure. With your business card, we can call or email you and request a brochure. Without it, you were the nice-looking gentleman in the blue shirt somewhere in the back left of The Javits Center.

You may not be able to buy a cigar for a nickel, but you can a business card, and the pleasure of handing out your business card to the right people will last far longer than 20 minutes anyway.

The Optical Journal business card

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