No marketing tool in in the world is as easy to implement and yet so overlooked and misunderstood as the simple Business Card. If there was such a thing as a “Magic Bullet” to guarantee business success it would be this simple, inexpensive and effective marketing tool.
In the past twenty plus years, I have been asked all kinds of questions about sales and marketing strategy. Most of the clients I have dealt with want to jump to a quick-fire solution to a complicated problem, without understanding the process. In medical terms you could say they are looking for a cure to a disease they have not properly diagnosed.
Let’s skip a lot of the “marketing hype” and strip it down to the bare essentials. Business is all about selling a sufficient number of profitable products to a sufficient number of profitable customers. That’s the job of the Sales People in your organization. Marketing is creating the products that potential customers need, want and can afford and then communicating with those potential customers to help them make the correct buying decision. The correct buying decision, of course, is “Buy from us, now.” That’s the job of your Marketing Professionals.
So your business has been boiled down to three variables; Products – Customers – Communications. Product Management, Customer Management and Marketing Communications all tie in nicely because the main function of any business is to communicate information (and persuasion) about their products to their customers. We use marketing vehicles to carry our messages to our customers. Each message must have a destination that is current and accurate.
Our businesses have three types of customers; current customers, former customers and future customers. The art and science of customer communication starts with collecting contact information from our customers and making sure they have ours. The second stage of the process is finding a proper way to store that information. The third part of a successful customer management strategy is accessing your data quickly and efficiently. The final part of this process is retrieving data from the database in the form of lists, labels and digital formats.
A Simple Business Card: A business card is a statement to the world about you, your company and how you wish to be communicated with. There are many styles of cards, some that have simple clean-cut graphics and some have more of an art flair to them. It’s a personal choice depending on the image you want to portray. I personally prefer a clean-cut business card that is easily recognizable and easy to read. An effective business card should have your company logo and a by-line on it. The logo is for branding and the by-line identifies your USP (unique selling point). I include my company address, office phone number, mobile number and email address. That is how I want people to contact me. I also include my Association’s website address, where people can go to learn all about our organization. Most importantly, my Business Card has my name and title on it. That’s because it is my business card and what I am doing by handing them out is starting a business relationship with someone. A relationship is a two way street. We don’t deal with companies. We deal with people.
I buy my business cards from Overnight Prints and pay about a penny a piece for them. My business cards are the least expensive marketing tool in my tool box and I take plenty of them with me where ever I go. Especially dive shows and trade shows. It is beyond me how many “Industry Professionals” don’t bring cards to the DEMA Show or run out on the first day. How many times have you heard someone say they ran out of business cards, forgot to bring them, or only have 2 left? In my book, that’s Strike One in creating a good first impression.
You should hand out a business card to everyone you meet in the diving business that could have a use for your product or knows someone who has a use for your product. Heck, give them two cards. One for them and one for their friend. That will get your name out and the name of your company, which is half of the communication process. Since communication is a two way street, you also need to get a business card from the people you deal with or would like to deal with. Now you have a way of contacting them in case they don’t contact you. That’s called follow-up.
Business Card Scanners: Getting someone’s business card will do you no good at all if you don’t have a way of organizing the cards you obtain and using them actively. I use the CardScan Executive V9 business card scanner from Dymo. The device scans contact information from business cards directly into your email contacts. It syncs the information with other software to create files that allows you to easily read and retrieve information when you need it. I like having a visual image of our customer contact information. After a major dive show it’s easy to verify established contacts or input new ones. Having the ability to easily access and retrieve information from your own comprehensive digital contact database definitely gives you and your business a competitive edge that helps you stay in touch with other industry professionals, worldwide better than others.
Contact Management Software: The best part of using a business card scanner with contact management software is that you start your business relationship with the exchange of business cards and you continually update any contact information changes with your colleagues. Having multiple contact points for each customer, not just email addresses, will better guarantee that you successfully stay in touch with your current and former customers and effectively reach new prospects on an on-going basis.