In the last email, we looked at these points:
- You can brand physical and visual details of your business.
- A limited budget means you need to carefully choose the detail or item that will make the most impact.
- To choose, the underlying principle that should be kept in mind is to put the customers first and prioritize their experience with your brand.
- One way you can do that is to identify a touchpoint, which is a point of contact between you and the customer. Even an email conversation is a touchpoint.
- A touchpoint that ticks all the important points is the packaging. Unboxing is a very special moment that businesses should maximize. (Think about opening presents)
- If you make the packaging special, you can keep your brand at the forefront of people's minds.
If you're doing something service-based, where you perform a service or don't have ready made products, the packaging aspect like we talked about in the last email might not be so relevant.
But you're not at a disadvantage. There are other brand details you can use that can provide the same impact. Business cards have been used to exchange contact information for so long that it makes so much sense to have one. We're even advised to always have a few on us to give out just so we don't miss a chance to network.
But think about this: a regular business card is just a piece of thick paper with your contact information on it. Do you use it to 1) just provide your contact information OR 2) promote your brand to the recipient?
If it's #1, then it's all good. But if you're aiming for #2, can business cards really do the job for you?
Should you order 100, 200 pieces of business cards every couple of months just so they could be kept and never looked at? I'm saying this out of my own experience. The business cards I've received go into my purse, sitting quietly and forgotten.
And when my purse becomes too bulky for my liking, most of those business cards go into the trash can. I only keep those I deem "important" and "urgent". This is a fact of life. We weed out things that aren't important or useful to us.
It's also why 5 months into setting up Narrativity Consultants, I still haven't ordered any business cards yet. I'm reluctant to invest in them because I'm afraid they won't actually make a difference for my brand.
What if we do something different? What if we go above and beyond the norm to show customers that ours is a brand of quality?
Put aside the traditional, rectangular business cards. Don't worry about making them small enough to fit in wallets and purses. Don't conform. Focus on being useful and relevant to your customers.
It's no different from the principle we applied to the packaging. By making the things we give out useful, we're in fact putting the customers first.
One of the ways to be useful is to share useful and relevant information. This concept is known as content marketing. I've written on this topic once (Why and How Content Marketing is Good for Your Business) and personally made it the basis of Narrativity Consultants.
How it works: Promote products/services indirectly by creating content that are relevant to the customer. Instead of asking customers to buy right away, show trustworthiness by helping them out with their problems using information.
By focusing on their needs and problems:
- You get their gratitude for helping them out. People who are grateful are much more receptive.
- You are seen as an expert. Experts are trusted. Toothpaste in commercials = Always "recommended by dentists".
- You are seen as a "teacher". Teaching is a good source of income that you can explore when you've gained sufficient credibility.
There's so many types of content you can create. Anything from videos, e-books, infographics, posters, podcasts, articles and even your tweets/Instagram photos. But to effectively replace business cards, we're going to look into content that can be easily explained on print.
Preparing useful and relevant information
Relevant means the info has something to do with your industry. It makes no sense to share something totally unrelated, even if it is useful, because the ultimate aim is to promote your business.
On the other hand, useful means it's something that your customers actually need. If the information is too insubstantial, it's not going to make any impact at all. You have to be judge of whether something is worth sharing or not.
For example, if you're a baker, something that's both useful and relevant is the "differences between Italian, French and Swiss meringue". The info isn't too basic and not everyone will know there are actually different types of meringue. (I didn't, and I actually love baking!) It hints towards your technical expertise as well.
Your other job is to structure the information to make it easily understandable. Short and sweet will do the job well. If you're exploring other types of content like videos and e-books, you can make the information more lengthy and comprehensive.
But since we're looking into printed items that you can give out to people, we have to consider the cost as well. Besides, condensing and simplifying the information highlights your ability to teach.
Other questions you can ask yourself when preparing the information:
- What did you google when you first started ___?
- What are the technical terms in the industry that people might not know? (Tip: Avoid common terms to make the information more valuable)
- What did your friend/relative/colleague who's not in the industry ask you about the things you do?
- Has anyone asked your help on how to do something in your industry? Is it something other people might want to know too?
- Are there any classes in your industry? What do the classes teach?
Following the baker example I gave above, other information that's useful and relevant are:
- The types of baking tins and trays that you should get
- A list of great baking supply shops in a particular area
- The different types of icing and when to use them
- How to store cakes/icing/fillings to make them last longer
- What to use as substitute if you don't have a particular ingredient
And the list absolutely goes on. There's no limit to what you can share.
Once you have the information, you have to think about how to display them. I recommend small to medium accordion-type cards or small booklets, but you can always talk to your local print shop to see if they have any cost-effective options.
Be sure to include your full contact information at the end. The name of your brand, email, phone number, website, Instagram handle or anything else that you would include in a regular business card,
If your content is great and the design is good, your business card replacement will basically become a gift. Do you like receiving unexpected and useful gifts? I do. It makes me view the giver in a better light. I'm more inclined to be friendly and open to what the giver says and does. And I always remember who the gift is from.
I realize that using these "special business cards" instead of the traditional ones will cost more money, so it's perfectly fine if you mix it up. Depending on the quantity you have, you can always reserve the special ones for people in your target market.
Content marketing is awesome. When you create content instead of just consuming them, you get to change the relationship you have with your customers. You're the expert, you're the teacher, you're the one they come to for that product. And that's good for business.