Using Card Decks To Sell Your Business
A two-step conversion – that is, using the medium to get an inquiry, not to try for an immediate sale – is usually the best use for a card. That point illustrates both strength and weakness. The strength lies in The First Rule of Card Decks:
Make response a no-brainer.
If you object to this Rule, consider: The individual flipping through the deck probably has just looked at another card and is about to look at another card. A challenge is out of order. (Replace the urge to challenge with adherence to The Second Rule, coming up.)
Typical skimming time, depending on which expert you’re quoting, is one to three seconds. If you want to stop a skimmer cold, cleave to The Second Rule of Card Decks:
Make a powerful promise.
The Second Rule eliminates such weak cues as “Mail this card for additional information.” Oh, certainly, “additional information” is the classic two-step conversion; but today’s impatient, short-attention-span marketplace demands tying “information” to a more aggressive partner – a discount or a free mouse-pad or a “Confidential Report.” At the very least, use terminology such as “Private Offer” or “$25 Value” to add power, however artificial, to the proposition.
The Third Rule? It’s a venerable one we should apply to every message we print or broadcast or send over the Web or put on the sides of buses or on matchbook covers or skywrite: The Clarity Commandment:
When you choose words and phrases for force-communication, clarity is paramount. Don’t let any other component of the communications mix interfere with it.
That Third Rule (or better, that Commandment) can save a marketer a lot of grief.
A one-step conversion involves additional rules:
1. No asterisks or footnotes.
2. No qualifiers, no “if” phrases relating to your willingness or ability to deliver.
3. A reward – whether monetary or psychological – for a fast reply.
4. Clear, non-obfuscatory rhetoric unadulterated by intentional cleverness or unintentional confusion … describing a clear, unequivocal offer unadulterated by conditions.
So a card combining a toll-free number with this text
qualifies under these rules as a one-step conversion:
2 Magnetic Door Signs 1 Color on White 30 mil Magnet 4 line max, 12[inches]x18[inches] signs $50.00
Complicated? No. “If”-phrases? No. Clever? No. Clear and straightforward? Yes. It qualifies.
Turn A Fun Hobby Into A Profitable Business
The card, reasonably copy-heavy, then spells out the exact deal. If this were a two-step conversion these specifics would help eliminate waste-names. It’s a one-step conversion, and that means specifics are mandatory.
Effective or ineffective? It depends on which deck the card is in.
To a list of business opportunity seekers, right on. To a list of sophisticated individuals whose homes cost $250,000 or more, probably not. (Yes, I know lists are full of surprises and that’s why we test lists in the first place; but in low-response media such as cards, we have to go with percentages.)
Just one problem here: Because it’s a one-step conversion, the card asks for a credit card number … which many will not want to expose on a mailed card.
What About “Image” Advertising?
I’ll risk the wrath of card producers by offering a firm opinion – and understand, please, it’s an opinion although to me it’s a fact – that card decks are the wrong medium for image advertising.
First of all, image advertising is necessarily rhapsodic, semi-poetic, not a fast “better grab right now or miss out” pitch. It’s out of key with the whole concept of card decks.
Second, the deck skimmer doesn’t expect to encounter image advertising in this milieu. The mind-set isn’t tuned to receptivity.
Third, the self-limiting nature of a card is an automatic restriction on size and format. Rhapsody gives way to a predetermined, standard shape.
An analysis of card copy isn’t the forum to attack the concept of image advertising, but what genuine marketer could quarrel with having this as the purpose of any message: getting the phone, fax machine, or cash register to ring?
Don’t Do This:
I’m looking at a 3 1/2[inches] x 5 3/8[inches] card printed vertically. It asks me to fax my reply on the card.
My fax machine is a new one, and I’m not going to risk having an undersized card hang up inside its guts. Anyway, the number isn’t toll-free, a competitive mistake when competing in a deck; and “Fax today for information” is a grievous violation of the Second Rule of Card Decks. Don’t do this.
I’m looking at another card with this heading:
No Business Plan? Call Us.
Here’s a “Huh?” message. “Business Plan” covers acres of possibilities. “Error!” flashes all over the Clarity Commandment. Don’t do this.