Private Party

Get Carded

Want to get more business? Just play your cards right--your prepaid phone cards, that is.

These colorful cards, programmed with prepaid minutes of phone time, are the hottest ad specialties around. "[Phone time] is something everyone uses," explains Laurette Veres, president and CEO of Intele-CardNews, a trade publication for the telecard industry. "You know customers are going to use them, and every time they use them, they see your logo."

Veres says phone cards are especially effective for people involved in "personal marketing," such as consultants or salespeople. Best graphic? A photo of your product, plus your logo.

AT&T, Sprint and MCI all sell prepaid phone cards, but Veres says small businesses may get more personal attention from entrepreneurial telecard companies. If you can't find them listed in the phone book, search the Internet under "phone cards" or check Intele-CardNews.

When choosing a phone card company, Veres says, compare costs per minute and ask how long delivery will take, whether the company offers 24-hour customer service, and whether it has paid its tariffs in every state to comply with telecommunications laws.

A small order (100 cards) typically costs $2.50 per card. How can you get maximum marketing bang for your buck? Get cards with at least 10 minutes of time, and "tie them into a special promotion, especially one that involves communication," suggests Veres. Send prospects a card with the note "Here's 10 minutes of our time; now can we have 10 minutes of yours?" Send a customer a birthday card that says "I know you're going to be calling family today. The next 10 minutes are on me." "Be cute and creative," says Veres, "and you'll get noticed."

Contact Sources

The H.R. Chally Group, (937) 299-1255, http://www.chally.com

Intele-CardNews, (281) 298-1431, http://www.intelecard.com

Private Label News, (215) 230-4400, plabelnews@aol.com

Sweet Charlottes, 1395 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030, (800) SWT-CHAR

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Private Party.

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