Palo Alto Software is proud to welcome Cidnee Stephen, one of the Duct Tape Marketing Coaches that will be posting over the next several months.

Do you have a box of business cards on your desk that you hardly seem to put a dent in before the information changes and a new box is ordered? Or worse yet…are you still working on that same box of business cards that you printed 3 years ago!

Business cards can be a great inexpensive marketing tool for a small business. They say exactly what you do and give people all the contact information they need to get a hold of you. Yet oddly enough we tend to use them only for networking, and even then, we aren’t really sure if people are holding on to them.

Here are 7 different ways you can turn your business cards into a low cost marketing machine!

  • Keep them on hand
  • Situate them with strategic alliances
  • Include them in your correspondence
  • Direct people to your website with them
  • Put something useful on the back
  • Use them for jotting down information
  • Use them as part of your referral system

Keep them on hand – even when you are popping to the convenience store or running a short errand. You never know who you will run into or what opportunity might present itself. It’s wise to keep your business cards in multiple locations, like your wallet or purse, your car, or your favourite coat, so that you won’t be left empty-handed. Words of advice….invest in some simple card holders so your cards are protected instead of bent or soiled.

Situate with Strategic Alliances – This is highly effective if you market to consumers, but can also be used business to business. Business cards can be placed at grocery stores, car washes, or restaurants, for example. How about placing them with a graphic artist if you’re a sign company, or a realtor if you are a mortgage broker? Keep your eyes open for opportunities to get your business cards in front of your target audience!

Include them in your correspondence – If you are sending out invoices or other correspondence to your target market, make sure you include your card. Consider enclosing a couple and ask your loyal suppliers or clients if they can pass them on. I know a travel agent who even included hers with her utility payments.

Direct them to your website – Face it! More and more people are turning to the web for information. Yet some people still forget to include their website on their business card. If you are proud of your website and it promotes your company, point this out to people when you hand them your card.

Put something useful on the back – By useful, I mean something that makes them want to hold on to your card. It can be a calendar, a discount, a FREE Trial or a Free Report. Think of something that your target market will value and you’ve increased the longevity of your card.

Use them for jotting down information – So someone asks you for the name of your dentist or you are trying to explain a point. If the information will fit on your card, use it. By doing so you are guaranteeing two things. They will remember you for helping them and they will hold on to your card longer.

Use them as part of your referral system – Business cards can be an integral part of your referral system. I’m not a huge advocate of handing out 2 or 3 cards to people you have just met. I am however a big believer in making sure happy clients and strategic alliances have extra cards on hand.

Consider marking the cards in such a way to track the referral source. Offer a discount or prize if someone hands in the card. A good referral strategy can be one of the most powerful alternative uses for your business cards.

Think about it. You have in your possession 500 – 1000 pieces of marketing in those little business card boxes. The idea is to get them in the hands of people that can grow your business. In order to do that you need to devise a strategy to utilize them in creative ways. Ideally you want all of those cards out of your office and into the marketplace as quickly as possible!

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success – a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services.  She has helped hundreds of small businesses get out of their peak and valley ruts to finally achieve that next vital level of success.  Cidnee is also a sought after speaker, writer and blogger on marketing topics that affect small businesses and B2B service based operations.  Subscribe for Free to her bi-weekly marketing tips for small businesses and also receive a special report on the 7 Steps of Marketing Success.

AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.