I had taken a brief ‘vacation’ from my column over the last few months, and I am glad to reappear in this fine publication. Sorry to those who agonized over my leave of absence and could not get their fix of the Tip of the Month, but here I am.
Over four years ago, I had my first Tip of the Month published in The Niche Report. This is that tip: The Ubiquitous Business Card. I’m sure that the majority of you reading this column today, did not read the column, nor have knowledge of this magazine in 2007. Well, anything worth saying (or writing) is worth repeating….
Marketing is the foundation for business development. We market through networking, advertising, presentations, and word of mouth. In each of these examples, a business card is dispersed. Early on in anyone’s career in sales or service, the golden rule of “carry business cards with you all the time” is indelibly etched in one’s mind. After all, a business card is who we are and how people are able to contact us. With all this exposure, we should be busier than a ketchup bottle at a picnic, right?
So how come we have trouble mustering up business or retaining repeat business?
I believe the business card is far too underutilized. Let me examine various possibilities on how to better utilize what I call “The Ubiquitous Business Card.” Ubiquitous is defined as being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time. Isn’t that how you would like to have your name spread?
I want to define the parameters of business card marketing and why it is important. Let me use two extremes of marketing to define the exposure you may have with a business card. If no one in your area (area defined as a 20 mile radius from your office) has your business card, then no one has your contact information and therefore, you will have a very quiet office; no visits, no phone calls, no applications to process, and no closings. If everyone in your area had your business card, then you would be busier beyond belief; the proverbial ketchup bottle. One percent of 500,000 people is still 5,000 people. If 500,000 people had your business card and one percent called you, would you be happy?
I just established a simple analogy that seems to be too difficult to fulfill. The reason: not enough business cards are being dispersed on a daily basis. I believe that in our regular daily routine, we forego approximately 25 marketing opportunities to pass out a business card. In a work week, that is 125 business cards handed out. In a month that is 550, and in a year, that is 6,500. If you stay in the business for ten years, you can theoretically pass out 65,000 business cards just through your daily routine and not spending an extra cent on marketing or mailing. How?
First, make a list of all the events in your day and the places you go for these events. For example: 1) drive to the gas station to pump gas. 2) Stop at the coffee shop for a latte. 3) Drive through a fast-food stand for breakfast. 4) Stop in a drug store for a prescription or to have film developed. 5) Go to a grocery store to food shop. 6) Shop at department or discount store. 7) drop off or pick-up the kids from daycare. 8) Have lunch with a business associate or friend at a restaurant. 9) Stop at a pub or bar for happy hour and to meet friends for a drink…etc.
In all these examples, would it be accurate to say that even though we carry business cards with us, seldom would one be passed out? This is where the value of the business card can far exceed its cost. A box of 1,000 business cards may cost $60 -- $80. That is 6 to 8 cents apiece. A mailing of 1,000 pieces will cost $410 in postage alone, and another 10 cents each for the printing totaling $510. In the end, an application is the end result regardless of the cost to obtain it.
The business card is established as being a cost effective way to market. It is also a more effective lead generator because YOU hand it to a person directly, or is handed to a person from a succession of people originating back to you. Compare this method to a cold piece or mail being received with ten or twenty other envelops or post cards daily…it will get lost in the volume of mail and is very impersonal.
Here is the method. Have fifty cards accessible in your car. I keep a box of cards on the front passenger seat. I can grab one or a few as I need them, and will never again need to grab some from the office, which I often forget to do and wind up at a networking event without cards. Every time you come in contact with a person, hand them your card. Do not go out of your way to hand them out nor approach people for the sole purpose of handing out cards. In your everyday life, be conscience of when to do so. An example: stopping for gas. DO NOT pay at the pump! Pay inside. Pump the gas, then walk to the attendant and hand them your credit card or your money with a business card on top. This will act in two ways. First, they will be mildly shocked and now you are a memorable person because you gave them a reason to remember you above the two hundred other customers they serve daily. Second, it will be a conversation starter. They will inquire what it is for. Simply reply, “I come here regularly and thought that it is rude for me to not introduce myself. I am Stewart, and you are (look at their name tag and state their name), nice to meet you. I happen to be in the mortgage business, so if you or anyone you know may have any questions I am willing to answer them, just give me a call…”
The next time you go to that same station for gas, do the same thing. A different attendant may be there, so repeat the same spiel. If the original attendant is there, act as if he is a best friend but still hand a business card to him again with payment. The card may be thrown away, but losing 6 cents instead of 51 cents for a mailer is economically more sound in my book. However, they may keep it on the register, tape it to the wall, put it in their pocket, wallet or even hand it to another person who may need your services.
Repeat this routine every time you buy lunch, even if you drive through, hand your card with payment. Repeat the routine when you purchase a coffee, buy a newspaper, have lunch and pay the waitress, or any other time you come in contact with anyone in the course of a regular day. Shopping in a grocery store, you should be able to pass out five to ten cards just from meeting people in the isles and starting a conversation with them about the high price of spaghettiO’s or whatever. I have a method to learn how to schmooze effectively, called the “Two Minute Mingle” sm … but that is a tip for another month. Stewart Mednick is a seasoned mortgage banker and published author. His writing focuses on relationship development, personal empowerment, customer satisfaction, marketing and sales techniques. Stewart is available for marketing consulting, personal coaching and training sessions. If you have a comment or a question for Stewart, contact him at 651-895-5122 or firstname.lastname@example.org