Features | October 21, 2019
Product Spotlight: Business Cards
Business cards remain ubiquitous in nearly every industry. Distributors and manufacturers can gain trust by offering an easy and creative solution for their customers’ needs.
If you’ve seen the movie “American Psycho,” aside from all the violence and Huey Lewis and the News, you might remember the conference room scene where Patrick Bateman takes out his business card and slides it across the table, explaining that the color is “bone” and “the lettering is something called Silian Rail.” His colleague, of course, pulls out his own business card and attempts to one-up Bateman with his nearly identical “eggshell with Romalian type” version.
It’s a funny scene satirizing the mundane and superficial aspects of corporate culture, but business cards do have a purpose, and it’s hard to ignore their ubiquity even in today’s increasingly digital world.
But why are they so ubiquitous? According to Kevin Ulwelling, president of Wichita, Kansas-based Midwest Single Source, “They’re like a handshake that stays with you. It’s an easy way to share all of your info. Not everyone likes to bump phones.”
They’re also a relatively simple way to show your company’s personality. “Business cards are a very personal item,” says Matt Judge, owner of BCT Atlanta, a wholesale printer with 34 locations. “They are one of the most important marketing fixtures available to a company, and they represent the person handing them out.” That personality can manifest itself in a number of different business card design options: heavy stocks, unique finishes like spot UV, die cutting, unique sizes, raised print, embossing, painted edges, etc.
A Gateway Product
BCT specializes in business cards. While it’s certainly not the only product the company offers, BCT sees them as a great way to get customers in the door.
“If you can provide an easy-to-use process for ordering cards, you gain a loyal customer,” says Lisa Teague, owner of BCT Ohio. “If you have additional products and services you sell to a customer, you should definitely offer business cards. If nothing else, you’re closing the door to another print provider getting a foothold into the account. If you’re looking to get into an account, it might be the first opportunity, especially if their main print provider left that door open.”
What companies like BCT are banking on is that if you’re a company that needs business cards, that product is likely not the only thing you’ll need. PSDA member Hotcards has a similar philosophy, but theirs comes with a metaphor.
“We always love to call business cards our milk,” says John Gadd, president and CEO of the Cleveland-based company. “What I mean by that: In the grocery business, they sell the milk as cheap as possible — often for a loss. Everyone needs milk, so the best way to appeal to everyone is to have the cheapest milk. Then, you put the milk at the very back of the store, and make customers walk past all the other stuff you’re selling while they head toward the milk.”
The milk — business cards — gets them in the store, and then Hotcards sells them on the other things they have to offer. “In 2014, we sold a car dealership a set of business cards on our website,” Gadd says. “Didn’t even know they bought them at first. They just found our site, bought from us, and that was the end of it. Two years later, they were an $800,000 per year client.”
So, sure, everyone wants business cards, and they’ll walk through the store to get them, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to sell. If you have a portal, like Midwest Single Source, it needs to be easy to use. “A huge part of selling business cards is the automation,” Ulwelling says. “[Customers are] able to go in and add whatever is variable. A majority of any portal we set up, business cards are included. The person buying print is usually buying business cards anyway, and once they see the ease of it, it’s usually a no-brainer.”
Also, because business cards are a direct representation of a company, they’re personal, so companies want the highest quality. However, companies don’t want to pay high-end prices, especially with so many low-cost options available through a quick Google search. You have to be competitive in pricing but also deliver on quality and turn times.
Ultimately, if you’re already selling print, adding business card capabilities can be an easy part of a customer solutions package. As long as you’re asking the right questions and listening to your customer to find the right solution, you’re golden.
Says Teague: “Of course the customer is expecting a quality product and great service, but if you can improve the process of ordering business cards, you can be a real hero!”
2 Tips for Selling Business Cards
- “Ask the right questions, and then really listen to the answers. For a lot of companies, managing the business card orders is a headache. Our print sellers that are the most successful are selling business card solutions, not a box of business cards.” —Lisa Teague, BCT Ohio
- “Don’t lead with price. You’ll never be the lowest price out there. Lead with quality and image. Remember, while [companies] want to save money, they want to project a professional image and the initial contact of a business card is very important.” —Matt Judge, BCT Atlanta
- Keeping up with changing technologies. Businesses show their personality through their business cards, and they want to stand out. Staying on top of trends is one thing, but you also have to figure out how to implement and leverage the new technologies effectively.
- Getting it right. Business cards are such a personal item that the risk is high if you don’t deliver. Says Lisa Teague of BCT Ohio: “You can mess up a large brochure order, but if you want to feel the wrath of a customer, mess up their business cards!”
- Competing with big online competitors. Customers want the highest quality available to represent themselves and their brand, but, at the same time, they don’t want to pay high-end prices. If you can’t deliver a solution that makes sense to their taste and their wallet, they’ll go elsewhere.
- It could be your entry point. Some customers might find your company through your business card offering. Once they do, you can show them what else you have to offer. “Getting yourself introduced to the marketing department via business card sales can give you an in to garner larger business from that company,” says Matt Judge, owner of BCT Atlanta.
- You can make your customers’ lives easier. If you’re already providing products or services to a company, you can tell them about your business card solutions and show them you can handle all their marketing needs.
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