Think about the neglected stacks of business cards lying around your office from networking events, meetings and conferences. At the time each card was handed your way, you probably said to yourself, "Hey, this company's product or service might be worth looking into," only to lose interest later and neglect to follow through. Even worse is the fact that the exact same thing happens to your card when you hand it to a potential customer--and sales slip through the cracks.
The answer is to create multimedia business card CDs. Why hand out a card when you can hand out a presentation? Using business card CDs in place of, or in addition to, handing out regular cards can be a powerful way to make a lasting impression and take a first step in capturing a potential client.
When I attend education conferences to promote my online career program, Streaming Futures, I don't just hand teachers, principals and administrators a business card and tell them to visit the Web site--they're overwhelmed with work and most likely never will. Instead, I hand them a small business card CD that contains portions of the content and a few video interviews from the site. This way, when the educator returns home, he or she has an action item: Put the CD into a computer.
Once they do, a nice Flash interface pops up and offers more information about the program, articles written in support of the program, and some actual content from the site. Now the educator knows more about Streaming Futures and is more likely to take the next step and follow up with me for more information, or even use the site themselves to begin teaching their students about careers.
Now, my situation is most likely a little different from yours because I run a nonprofit organization and have nothing to sell. If your company sells products or services, however, a business card CD can act like a catalog, advertising your wares. Most important, it's just plain different and draws notice. How many people hand out business card CDs with their name and contact information on them? So far I've never run into anybody, and when I do, I'll pay special attention to the card not only because it's thicker and stands out from the other cards, but because it makes it so simple to take the next step.
There are zillions of companies out there that specialize in CD duplication, helping to keep prices for business card CDs relatively low. Depending on how many you purchase (unit prices go down with bulk purchases), you can expect to pay anywhere from $0.40 to $1.00 per card. If you provide the content and design for the CD, prices will tend toward the lower end. On the flip side, if you rely on the duplication company to design the CD layout and cover, prices will be higher.
As for the content that goes onto the CD, remember that business card CDs are much smaller than regular CDs and can only hold between 30 and 50 MBs of data. With this in mind, throw together a nice Shockwave, Flash, PowerPoint or even a Web page presentation that includes important information about your company, such as product offerings, contact information, press releases, tutorials and videos.
To get the presentation to begin running automatically when the CD's loaded into a computer, you need to create a file called Autorun.inf. Open Notepad and type [Autorun] open=start.exe (where start.exe is the name of the file you want to automatically open up.) Make sure you save the file as "all file types" in the dropdown box in the notepad Save dialog box. If you leave the "Save As" as ".txt," it will simply make the file Autorun.inf.txt and it won't work.
Remember, people are busy, and busy people don't have time to look through 35 business cards from an event, then look up 35 Web sites or e-mail 35 different people. So make your card the one that stands out and makes it easy for the recipient to take action. Business card CDs may cost a bit of money, but the potential for return can be tremendous.
Joel Holland, 18, has been starting and running businesses since he was 12. He's currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Nortel Networks Kidz Online, as well as the producer of Streaming Futures, a national teen career show dedicated to helping teens choose the right career path. Holland is ranked in the top 10 nationwide for his marketing skills through DECA, a national organization with more than 300,000 teen members, and was named Business Student of the Year by the McLean, Virginia, Chamber of Commerce last year.
Joel Holland, 25, is the founder and CEO of Footage Firm in Reston, Va.