If you could make a great first impression on a client for three cents would you be willing to fork over the cash? What about leaving that same impression on 2500 potential clients for less than $100? Will you part with the c-note? My hope is that you would. I know I would; and I do!
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Home Based Travel Show & Conference in Baltimore sponsored by OSSN and TRO. Aside from the 100 travel suppliers, I was able to speak with and mingle with about 500 mostly home based travel professionals. For those that have attended trade shows, there is a ritual of swapping business cards for future networking. With people from many locations converging on one location, this is usually the first and last impression you will make.
My question is why are people so cheap when it comes to one of the most powerful and inexpensive business tools available?
The self made card. When you print your own cards, it always looks horrible. If they get wet, they are ruined and the ink runs. If the printer is not perfectly aligned, they are crooked. If the ink is low, they are barely legible. And the little perforations around the edges just scream “amateur”! Considering a self made card? Don’t!
The free card. Vista Print is a decent print shop. They always have a loss leader promotion available for free business cards. There are two problems with this offer. First, they will look like every other card out there. From the show, I have 10 lighthouses, 28 sailboats and 13 setting suns. If you cannot be bothered to set yourself apart, why should anyone be bothered to do business with you? The other problem with those 51 cards is the printing on the back, “Business Cards are FREE at www.vistaprint.com”. Are cruises free at your agency? This is nothing more than a shrewd marketing ploy from Vista Print to have you distribute their ads for free! Unless you are prepared to give away your services for free, stick to a business card you actually pay for.
The semi-custom card. I will use Vista Print again. They have many pre-formatted styles at terrific prices. However, the styles are not unique and likely they are being used by thousands of your fellow travel professionals. The good thing is that they are not pointing out that you were too cheap to buy a business card. But they do nothing to distinguish who you are or what you do. Take a look at this, this, this, this, and this website and let me know which one was unique enough for you to consider booking your travel.
The custom card. I will still stick with Vista Print here as well because they do a fine job with custom work. Spend some time devising a logo and defining your “brand” and then go for the custom card. Use the heavy paper and if you want to really splurge do it double sided with a tag line or perhaps a brief synopsis of what sets you apart from the crowd. Honestly, they are not that expensive. I just re-ordered mine and it was $78…three cents well spent.
I said business cards were the most affordable business tool. When I had my retail agencies, my agents understood that their business card boxes must be empty every six months. Give them out everywhere. When I pay a bill in the mail, I enclose a card—we booked a wedding for some girl in the Comcast billing department after my card kept falling into her lap. Do you travel? Hopefully! I always use a business card as a “bookmark” in the in-flight magazine—conveniently left behind. Fishbowls for a free lunch and the supermarket bulletin board are all fair game. Be creative but not obnoxious. A little guerrilla marketing never hurt anyone. And for three cents, you can’t go wrong!