Monday, 23 December 2013

The Hotel GDS Connectivity Warning

GDS Connectivity only works when you work.

Landmark Hotels Dubai
It happens all the time:  A hotel starts with GDS Connectivity, and then sits back. 
The hotel waits the 6 or 12 months of the initial contract, and then calls its representative to say: "We do not get any reservations, we want to cancel!"

Because often it is not understood that this connectivity is a marketing tool. As with any tool, it needs to be used.  Compare it to buying a car. You can buy a Mercedes, or a Rolls for that matter, and there it is, a shiny status symbol at the front door. But if you do not use it, or didn't even know you needed a drivers license, do you think: "It's useless"?

Read my 'Adventures in GDS Land'
A good GDS representative will always offer you a training. They will tell you how to manage the system and how to make the most of it. Never hesitate to ask for that training. And, if you did not understand it the first time round, ask for a second training.

Any representative will always be more than happy to provide you with that training. Because the better you understand how it works, the more reservations you will attract, and that again is very good for the representative.

Depending on the quality of the representation, lots of work and thought will go into the revenue management. But if you as a hotel marketing manager do not your part of the work, this representative can only do so much.

In the end, it is the hotel that is the pilot. Opening and closing availability, offering different rate plans, learning to play with these rate plans... All that might seem difficult or confusing in the beginning. But the more you start to understand the possibilities, the more you will start to like to know more, experiment more, until it becomes a passion.

Do not see that part of marketing as work. In my experience it were always those hotels that were enthused, that almost saw it as a game of Monopoly, that got the best results. 

Being on the GDS gives a hotel world wide exposure to almost up to 400.000 travel agents, so it is a wonderful marketing tool. But never forget it is just that, a tool, so it is in your best interest as a hotel to actually to start understanding it, and using it.

Ben (Bernardus)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Website conversion starts with 7 seconds

This is the time you as a website owner have: 7 SECONDS.

I NEVER work with stock photography. It seriously hurts the conversion.
This is the time span in which your website visitors will make their emotional decision. 

Whether or not they will take your site into account as a possible contender.

To make it to their 'shortlist', so to speak. 

So not even whether they will convert into a customer, but whether it's realistic to expect such conversion. It's the first and most important step towards website conversion. 

As I described at length before: website visitors scan, not read.  Just as at any time in history or any place in nature, our immediate reaction is the question: fight or flight? 

Always remember that language and words are brand new. For the greatest part of our history we humans 'read' environments, patterns in the sky, eyes, attitudes. 

It's the drum roll of the song, the first notes of the symphony, that will decide whether you are willing to start listening or not. 

It's the reason why template websites do not work, why stock photography doesn't work, etc. They are instantly recognized as such, and you as website manager are judged on it.

For their subliminal message is: 'I could not be bothered to invest time or original thought in it, or do not have the budget for it'

So all your words about how good you are, how professional, how successful - instantly sound false or parochial. 

It's also the reason why so much effort and money poured into SEO or paid advertising are wasted: you are nothing with 10.000 website visitors a month or even a day, if only a fraction converts into a customer (and most probably even a fraction without potential).

If a website manager is serious about website conversion - he or she needs to be serious in the first place.

And the first step is realizing that your website is scanned by intuition and instinct... long before the ratio starts to read.


Friday, 20 December 2013

I wish you a Vermeer Christmas

Vermeer is the antidote for all things stress or alienation. 

Looking at his painting here, one wonders whether 'Zen' only popped up as fashion and trend - 
when we no longer possessed it.

Just as rustic furniture only became a fashion from the moment rusticism disappeared from our lives.  

Or as the umbrella being invented when getting wet suddenly turned into a problem

Of course the state of complete inner peace is not reserved to a specific Asian culture. We used to all know it. 

Looking at this lovely milkmaid we experience a stillness of mind of an era long gone by. Trivial as her action may be, she is one with the moment. And right she is. It is also a moment in her life. Can we even remember the last time we had a moment of such almost religious surrender? 

If only we could enjoy this full contentment, of natural light, our surroundings, our decoration, our action - or 'job' if you wish.

Looking at a Vermeer one becomes a still life one self. Sheer inner peace. 


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Religion, Art and Marketing

In Brussels alone, the budget spent on pharmaceuticals amounts to a million euro - per night.

But through all major cities runs a never ending river of trucks bringing in tranquilizers, sleeping pills and anxiety suppressants.

It's not Big Business. It's Mind Blowing Business.

OF COURSE art and religion remain on the back burner in education.

Education is not here to make us happy or healthy. It is not here to teach children how to deal with their own aggression, low self esteem, cope with failure, bullying or general survival.
If anything, it does NOT want to teach us all that. Happy people or people who feel at peace with themselves, are not good for the economy.
They don't need to go shopping, they don't need beauty farms or wellness centers, they don't need the latest shiny tool to fill any void or experience a temporary rush of contentment. Not to mention just how many professionals in physical and mental health would suffer because of the lack of customers.
Education is here as fuel for the economy. Nothing more. And the economy demands we feel averagely satisfied. More or less happy. Not unhappy rather than happy.
The whole of marketing is aimed at promising you happiness. Promising you success, popularity, beauty and happiness.
I know, I work in marketing. And love it.
And am not even its subversive member.
My thinking is the same as the one that is slowly spreading throughout the whole industry.
That people want a real Christmas, not a marketing version of it.



Sunday, 15 December 2013

There's nothing that art can't cure

This is an article to read slowly.
Living in the moment is the cure to many things.
And the rest is solved by art.

Stress? Art. Loneliness? Art.
The problem you are having right now? Art.
Your website doesn't convert visitors into clients? Art.

It's the reason why artists are the poorest members of society - and the richest. More than psychiatrists, than life coaches, than entertainers, than business consultants, more than SEO's, more than soccer players - more than anyone anywhere, it are great artists that are remembered and that people turn to.

Why a museum can trigger half of the income of a city.

Why behind every new invention in consumer technology there is not only a great IT specialist, but also a great designer. 
Popular culture entertains us, art heals us. It doesn't matter if you define yourself as not culture minded - at one point or the other, you as well will turn to art. And more often than not, you don't know WHY.
If all else fails, every career move or every valium, we turn to art.
We try to contain our feelings by putting them into words. By precisely defining them. Most of our deeper feelings though are inexplicable.
So we give up and say: something is wrong. Something seems to be lacking.
Many of us don't believe in an official religion. We turn to surrogate religions (positivism, the Secret, New Age, Herbalife, Apple) and also there we give up and end by saying: "But I believe there's something".
We live in the era of Somethingism. Of Somethingity.
As a matter of fact, we've always lived there. For here is something you should realise:
In the ocean of time, it is - what?  100 years since we read? A few thousand years since a very first person in our species could write?  A little bit more since we communicate by using a language?
Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of years that we survived by 'reading' images.
Landscapes. Patterns in the sky. An intuitive scanning of the surroundings.
We are all still far, far, far better at 'reading' moods, situations, faces, an atmosphere, than words. (Marketing Manager, this is why your website has a low conversion rate).

This is what art does to you or for you.

Reach you, HIT YOU, on that deeper level.

Straight to your limbic brain, past your day-to-day defense systems, your average 'house-garden-kitchen' rationality.

And fix it there.
Art is the big defragmenter of your brain.
The cleanser of your hard disc.

If you let it in.



Saturday, 14 December 2013

How to protect your online reputation

Protect it by knowing the 3 rules of thumb.

(An expression, by the way, that comes from an old English custom in which a man was not allowed to hit a woman with anything stronger than a thumb).
Here are the 3 rules we can pretty much say they apply to the online reputation of each of us: 
Just as the car we dream of, our online image is simply how we wish to be perceived. It's our facade.
That's not hypocritical at all. Our survival techniques always indicate the same: our lives do not neatly walk over the line of who we are, but how we are perceived.
You learn it very quickly: your post that talks of being depressed or ill, will trigger one quick 'ow, how bad'. And that's it. Your positive post though will trigger dozens of likes and comments. People feel bad or bored or insecure enough as it is, and crave for the energy of others. 
So online we all have to just use one side of ourselves. That side we deem safe to show. 
You are not worried at all about how you are perceived? You don't care about 'privacy settings' or just how many times social networks change them, so you basically give up on changing them? You think that everything you say or show can be seen by everyone? 
Because you've "got nothing to hide"?
The only danger here is that this information can still be used by everyone. Your liking of this type of clothing, that movie, such country - not to mention how we all throw open the door very wide for future facial recognition - will be used in marketing. 
Right now we only experience the first babysteps in that matter. The days when you set foot in a shopping mall and all the shops already know your name, face, likings and behaviour is not far away.
Do you like that prospect? 
You set foot in a store and your name pops up on a screen, together with ads personalized to your taste, the music and lighting adapt to your preference, and the sales persons already know what you were interested in the weeks before? 
We've got nothing to hide - except ourselves.


This might sound contradictory to point 1, and it isn't. For as much we try to only project an image, we definitely reveal our complete being.
It just takes an amateur psychologist, or a robot collecting information and cross-referencing data, to quickly detect the subliminal message of your online profile.  
You can be very quickly defined as: a person who needs attention, displays egocentrism, shows signs of irregular behaviour or sociopathy or bullying, is insecure, does not perform well in stress situations, does not finish a task up to the end, is quickly bored, chats during work hours, talks about work, can or cannot be trusted with confidential material, looses himself in details, is assessed as a floating voter,...
It used to take hours of psychological assistance and assessment tests to detect these patterns : the very big social networks already know this about you, and a good psychologist can detect it from studying our online timelines.
Sure: nothing to be done about it. You can't change who you are (at least not without a tremendous amount of energy) nor avoid it to trickle through. Posting as little as possible might be the only protection. Which, anyway, is needed for any addiction!! 

You already wrote about this, Ben!
Why do you repeat this message over and over again?
Here is why:

·         Because it can't be said enough.
We keep saying "yes, we have to take more care online", and then never act on it.
Online moguls will for sure not warn you of the dangers, for these are to their advantage. The information you provide them with, is golden.
·         Because repeating is marketing rule Nr 1.Our heads are saturated with information. One commercial is worthless: it is seen and forgotten. It needs to be repeated, 5 times an evening, 50 times a week, to have any effect.

Your marketing animal.


How to protect yourself in 2014.

Some things will only become active in 2015. Or 2016. Or 2025 for that matter.
They will happen though. The technology already exists. Here are warnings that can't be repeated enough.
1. Please be very, very careful with what you post online
Ever noticed how IT geeks never ever use their name online? Never use their real photo? Never use an email address that gives any hint about who they actually are?
Because they are aware of what the consequences can be. What you put online is indestructible. Regardless about your 'privacy settings', any larger company, amateur hacker or entity can get to it. If not today, then in 20 years from now. What you do today, can hurt your career in 10 years from now.

2. Be careful with what you do online
There are companies who are hacked, and companies who do not know that yet.
Not hacked, does not exist.
Gone are the days that hacking was a means of boycotting or damaging you. Today it is all about collecting information. Monitoring the moves and plans of competition as well as the behavioural patterns of 'consumers'.
You are a tiny company debating a thrilling concept or invention? And then you suddenly discover someone in China was faster than you?
This happens all the time. It's more rule than exception.
3. The effect of your personal photos
You set foot in a restaurant, for the very first time, and the Maitre D has already identified you as a lover of Italian food.
Stronger: he might already know there are lovers of Italian food in the neighbourhood.
Your photo has been posted online so many times now, and the technology already exists to have it automatically cross-referenced with your likings and online behaviour.
Sure, some of you might find that good service. Or even awesome.
Those of you who know the effects of instant gratification on your overall sense of happiness, will find this harmful. (We like those things that remain special or only have once in a while).
Or you might feel this turns you from a human into merely a 'consumer'.
We are all used (and use) the quick glance: that quick scanning of a person, from his shoes to his haircut and car, in order to check out his reliability, finances or social standing. This is now industrialised.
4. The power
In a previous article I mentioned how Google knows more about you, than you yourself. For the simple reason they can analyse the behaviour of a billion people and put it into patterns.
They can detect whether you show the typical behaviour of a gay, feminist, maverick, anarchist, socialist, Muslim, passive aggressive, politically risky, non-consuming, alternative,... long before you know yourself.
Their knowledge is worth trillions.
Governments can still control the massive returns of taxes, it are Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and a few dozen other multinationals that have the knowledge.
They are the rising Roman empire of today.
And just as any empire, need to spread a message of 'goodness'. Just as we went to Africa to 'spread the message of God', to Irak 'to bring freedom'. Especially in the West there are more people who worship Steve Jobs than Jesus, Bill Gates is 'the philanthropist', Facebook only wants 'to bring people together', etc.

That will be very interesting to monitor.
If you know yourself, you know half the world. If you feel reluctant to jump on a wagon, it means that millions of others feel that too.
The explosion in consumer technology might be spinning out of control - there are many examples of inventions that were just not taken on board.
Nobody will dispute that an automatic car is handier. Even after decades it has still not made waves in Europe. Generation after generation keep preferring the clutch. Quadrophonia is better than stereo. Again, just not taken on board.  Or just see how people love to keep struggling with peanuts.
Stereo, clutch, peanuts... very often it is about the pleasure in doing something, rather than have it prepared.
So let's see where you will pass. When will things become a bridge too far for you.
When your eye movements will be tracked on a tablet?
When your brain can be printed in 3D? (already possible)
When every stranger can scan you and instantly know everything about you?
Some of you will say: brilliant!
Some of you will find this a full handover to bigger powers - and ones that will be near to impossible to ever get out of. And to end on a pleasant note:
You are still the captain of your ship

Right now, in December 2013, you still are.
You will decide who you will be in that brand new world, or what signal you want to give right now.
Every move of you online, is a political one.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Psychology in Marketing

The ratio between our conscient and subconscient behaviour? 

Research puts that at 10/90. 

Especially over the last decade neuro-psychologists claim to have proven that the free will does not even exist - all our thoughts and actions would be governed by social and cultural determination. 

Let's not get into this debate though - it's still a highly controversial one that generates very much resistance. 

150 years after Darwin we can more or less generally accept that we are an animal among animals: considering we do not even have a free will is still a bridge too far and might take another century to digest. 

It is clear though why marketing has always fully focussed on the subconsciousness.

Targeting ratio would be a miss in 9 times out of 10 and thus no professional marketer can get away with that. 

It's the reason why top psychologists (neuro or not) are the heart at the marketing labs of multinationals.  

Or why 85% of all active websites fail: no knowledge of or access to important information, no budget to invest in quality (the very first thing picked up by the radar of our subconciousness/instinct) or simply forever trying to sell to the ratio and not to the iceberg under it. 

Sure!! We humans do wish to think that we made a rational decision. So your website has to provide the content that would back up a rational decision - it can't be 100% about emotion and feel. 

For 90% though : YES.

Hence why TV commercials are what they are: 

Selling the freedom, not the car.
Selling the social status, not the tablet.
Selling the possibility of sex, not the perfume.

Sell the feel, never the product.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Open your eyes before branding closes them

Even I, working in Branding and loving it to bits, breathing it and eating it - am aware that every coin comes with two sides. And then I want to pull the wool over my eyes and just let it go.

So, for once, only once, let's talk for once about this pitch black side of the moon.

Only once. And then I'll go on about all the wonders of it.

Google glasses are on the market and publicity can now be burned straight onto our eyeballs. 

Touch screens will slowly give way to tablets that can simply track the movement of your eyes. 

We jump to every new invention, and do not realize just how many signals we give away telling multinationals: here are the tools to enslave us. 

Google already knows you're gay long before your mother does. Before YOU know. Whether you can develop a tendency to subversive behaviour, are a feminist, an anarchist, a non-voter, what kind of voter... it doesn't matter what: the behavioural patterns of billions can be studied now.

We already have masses that are far more addicted to Facebook, than they ever were to any drug. Masses that are more enthused about Apple or Herbalife - than they ever were about any religion. 

There are people, and more than you think, who actually think that drinking Coca-Cola makes you happy. Not consciously, but instantly etched onto the reptilian brain.

Brands are the new Roman Emperor, the new Louis XIV, the new aristocracy. 

If you think we're free, forget about it. Neuro-scientists already concluded 15 years ago that humans have no free will: they are fully managed by social pressure, tribe rules, era- and cultural determination. It are on these latter domains that the big brands play.

We think we're free. Don't we go to the voting boot every 4 years? Don't we then have the delicious choice between either this candidate or that one?

We do not realise that every visit to a supermarket, every purchase is a vote. Pro or contra child labour, pro or contra slavery, pro or contra an oil based economy and thus wars in the Middle East, pro or contra materials digged up in Africa and thus pro or contra dictatorships or social injustice. Here we all pool the wool over our eyes - but, hey, in 2 years from now we can go vote again.

We work for the brands, AND buy their products, forever faster, AND while doing so destroy our own liberty and the planet at the same time. We are hooked.

It will be impossible to get out of that.
Whatever we do, be it flash mobs, be it mass demonstrations for change - Brands take over that banner and we march behind them. Thinking they are the solution rather than the problem.
History teaches us that history doesn't teach us anything. For the emperor will always wear new clothes.

But hush, lovely reader, don't you despair. For after every new emperor there is a new revolution. Not because you or me want it, just because it's inevitable. We live on a turning planet in a turning universe, lives that forever turn.

And you can start Branding too.
You do not need trillion dollar eye-tracking laboratories to do so. 
Sometimes all it takes is to refine your radar.

Just as it can have a dark side, it can shine as the inside of a diamond.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Split second persuasion. Now.

You've got one tenth of a second. To make a first impression. 

How benevolent we humans are, to still organize a flicker of being non-judgemental. When seeing or meeting someone new, we are fully free from and protected against prejudices - for a full 0.1 second. 

When it comes to opening a website, that's even a long, luxurious, amazing 7 seconds. 70 times more! That big is the difference in suspension of disbelief. 

Playing the piano (poorly) I know: you either capture a listener from the first notes, or not at all.

As any friendship, also a business relationship is a type of 'being in love'. Unless you're locked in together for a long time, it's love at first sight or nothing at all.

As a web designer I know: website visitors quickly scan the overall look, glance here and there - and then they're either intrigued or leave and never come back. 

In all situations, marketing or real life alike,  it's very difficult to fight yourself back into the ear or eye. Exhausting, really. It has become a battle. Whereas there was this brief moment that you were awarded with genuine and open attention. 

Instead of seeing that as a problem, we can be thankful for it and see it as a great opportunity: humans still 'hang out' with websites they wouldn't exchange one single word with were it to be a person in a bar!

For sure that too will change: the future forever evolves towards the virtual world, until we will have identical reactions online and offline. 

It's something all great brands and very successful websites have in common: you believe them from the word go. They do not have to mention: "We are so professional and reliable and have a long track record" etc. You see that in the blink of an eye. 

Why are we humans such highly sensitive radars? 

It's obviously for reasons of survival and self-protection. We capture far more information in much less time than a search engine robot can. Our instant scan is an all-encompassing one: 

The words, the prononciation, the eyes, the expression, the attitude, the clothes, the situation - all that is instantly picked up by our instinct and senses, and cross-referenced with our knowledge, history of experiences, cognitive biases: all layers of our brain. 

We can instantly detect if 'something does not click': this person is wearing Versace but cheap shoes... what she is saying does not correspond with her expression, etc. 

And once that first impression is established, it's very hard to correct it: you might need many repeat encounters, long conversations, a visit to her or his family.

It's a luxury your website does not have: once the first impression is a negative one, visitors will not return. It will end up in an exhausting cycle of social networking and paid advertising to put your website again in front of that visitor, forever trying to correct that first impression. The good news obviously is: we've got 7 seconds! 

At least, that has been the convention for years. That it takes 7 seconds for a website visitor to make his or her emotional decision, whether or not to see your website as a possible contender. To bookmark it or remember it. Personally I think this time frame is forever getting shorter too - until we are in that truly virtual world, in which an online interaction will be identical to a real life experience - and impressions are made within one tenth of a second too.

To put it bluntly: 

If your website / business card does not convince in a split second, it was a waste of energy, money and paper.

More: it will cost you very much. While at the same time makes you lose out on all the potential you could have had. 

Our whole brain is trained in throwing things in the recycle bin AND deleting all items there.

On average we have got 120 Facebook friends. Who forever ask our attention for some 10.000 interesting links, messages, quotes, photos, videos. And this is just the input you get via Facebook. Not even mentioning the perfect storm of all triggers out there.

Our brain is there to make us survive. And in order to survive mentally, it choses to ignore 99.9% of all the background noise in this complete jungle of messages.

You hit home now, or you never will.

You hand over your business card. It triggers a tiny flicker of interest, one split second in which you, the card and situation are being scanned. At that very moment the mind has already been made up, whether your message is forgettable or not. 

If it is, you end up in the situation of that person who forever has to blog, Facebook,Twitter, network, print cards, distribute flyers - without ever converting a contact into a client. 

All the conversations at all the network events are useless. 


Monday, 4 November 2013

The Art of the Business Card

If I could turn back the clock, I would forget about Website Improvement and study Business Card Optimization instead (the first has taught me it will be a 5 year plan, so let's keep that for another life). 

Marketing combines the 3 loves of my life: psychology, craft and art. You have to be clever and ahead of others in all 3 of them. And nowhere is this so difficult as in the Business Card. It is the Haiku of marketing tools. 

Nowhere is there so much competition, nowhere do you need to squeeze so much information in such a small space. You only have a few square inches to convey it all. 

It is the summary of your Business Plan. 

For it tells who you are, how you see yourself, how serious you are about your business, what market you target and the quality that people can expect of you. More than anything else, it has to be in full unison with the person handing it over. 

A first impression is made within one tenth of a second, and very hard to correct or alter. (The human instinct is such that no glossy card can circomvent the situation or atmosphere in which it was first shown). 

The numerous pitfalls of the business card

It seems to be quite an impossible task:  

  • How to make your card memorable?
  • While also strengthening the overall memorability of your brand?
  • While still conveying professionalism over creativity? 
  • While transmitting the message that you are a true authority in your domain?
  • And preferably THE authority? 
  • Making the contact details easy 
  • And triggering people to contact you?

    You have to tackle all those questions, because you want your card to be among those very few that are actually
    saved by the receiver. And remembered. And convert the receiver into a client.
Stand out in a matter of seconds

Studies show that website visitors make their emotional decision within 7 seconds. That's the time in which they decide whether or not to take a website into consideration. Whether they will visit a second page, bookmark the site or remember it for later.

That's the time a webmaster has got, to attract any business at all.

In case of the Business Card that time is even shorter. Just as with a website: people do not read it. They scan

There are way too many impulses in life, there is way too much information coming from all sides and we are wired for split second decisions: fight or flight.  So how, oh how, can you tackle all issues so quickly?

The subliminal message

In marketing all messages are subliminal.

True, in your website or blog you still have a lot of space to TELL how professional you are, how reliable, punctual, trustworthy, etc. 

Also here that isn't ideal if you do not SHOW it - in the Business Card though you do not even have that option. 

It needs to show, sublimely so and instantly so. 

From the moment you hand over your card, the emotional decision has already been made. 

Not based on what you tell on the card, but on one quick overall scan of you, the situation, and the look and feel of your card. 

What's the message of your card?

Pick up your Business Card. Do so as though it's not your own. You received it from someone else. What is your split second decision? What do you think is its subliminal message? 

"I'm a card of someone who started a business. I'm not too sure though, I'm just testing the waters a bit, so I didn't want to invest too much thought or money. Let's see how it goes. Or whether I'll try my luck with something else and in another country. But contact me, maybe I'm still around".

"My business is booming. OK, so this card was a cheap and quick one, not really matching my overall image, but if you go to my website and read it, you'll see I'm really reliable and good at what I do".

"I'm an authority in my domain. I will stay put. You see how I invested in this card. Please save it".

"I am THE authority. At one point, you too will need me". 

Start a business? Start with the business card

I always advise clients who are just starting a business, to start their marketing with the Business Card. 

For 2 important reasons:

It's the Business Plan. Working on the business card helps to crystallize the Business Plan into its purest shape. It's the guideline and reminder for any next marketing tool.

Brilliance in 1 thing. Is far better than mediocrity in 10 marketing tools. We are all in a constant rush forever updating our website, Facebook page, Blog, Twitter, YouTube account, Google Adwords, Google+, brochures, networking and advertising. And none of it helps, for it is all mediocre. Just as anyone elses.

Be brilliant in one thing. So at least there you are being taken seriously. You will be remembered, and convert your very first contact into a client. Only then you start with the next marketing tool, where, it goes without saying, you also aim at brilliance.

Good luck!

(Well, luck has got nothing to do with it. All good marketing is psychology, craft and art. Just as anything else, it is 1% inspiration, and 99% work).


Friday, 1 November 2013

The profitability of the business card

We all get them. All the time. Everywhere. We're snowed under. We've become immune to them. Half of them are immediately chucked away, and the other half ends up in a corner of a drawer. Where they are left to be forgotten. 

Only a select few ever make it to that 'nirwana': the business card holder of the relevant business contact. 

It's that ideal location every business card is targeting. It's the traditional equivalent to a top ranking in the Search Engines. 

For such a holder or map is used all the time, and every single time the owner flips through it, he or she is reminded of your existence.

(Imagine the CPC budget needed to achieve the same, with this added advantage that the prospect has actually met you. Little miracle that 'business card optimization' has become a craft and profession in itself).

It might not be a 'one million dollar question', but a 'few thousand dollar question' it is: how to turn your business card into a profitable marketing tool?

1. Professionalism

How to ensure that your business card does what it was designed for: to deliver business? First, such a card only ever makes it to that top spot, if you or your business is seen as a peer.  

Your card says: we are a serious business. 

Its subliminal message is: "I am at your level. With this card I prove to deliver services of very high standard. It is safe for you to pass it around or to recommend me. I will not let you down". 

2. Originality

If your product, service or market permits it: stand out. The key phrase here is: if your market permits it. Usually it doesn't. 

Yes, if you are an Interior Designer, work in photography or are otherwise expected to be creative, you can get away with it. If you are not: cards in metal, wood, plastic, 3D… we've seen it all and it's good for a smile. It can also quickly come across as student-esque

The example here on the left is brilliant though. They bake cookies, so what is more logic than have a cookie-card? 

It caters to expectations. 

And, more: you do not have to actually pick up the card or read it to know what the business is about. 

This card even comes with a third advantage: food being one of the 3 strongest conversion impulses, this card actually whets your appetite to get into contact. 

Three advantages in one. This is for sure a card that will be remembered and kept. 

3. Added Value

One way to optimize the chances is by providing added value. Why would anyone save your business card, if it only takes a few clicks to find someone who delivers just the same service as you? 

Why not put a special message on the flip side: 'One hour free advice'. Or: 'This card gives you the right to a free beverage'. 

People love things that are for free. Remember that 'free' is still one of the 3 most used and strongest messages in marketing. It's a powerful word that flies straight to the eye ball. 

Such a card might be saved and remembered. And the receiver will come to your bar for that beverage, or will email you for that free advice. And then the 'conversion process' has started. 

Also here applies: if your business card does not radiate professionalism, the 'free advice' will not have worth. 

Here, as in web design, it is all about the subliminal message. 

If you pick up your card, what does it say? 

"This is a free online template that does not completely match the rest of my branding materials, but it was cheap, and this is the state of my business"? 

Or: "The quality of this card is what you can expect when you work with me." 

Personally, there's no craftsman for who I've such respect as the one who masters the art of the business card.