Here are two scenarios, each featuring the use of a different promotional tool:
Scenario 1: Business Card
You offer your customer a business card in the hope of generating some repeat business.
Your customer leaves the premises and does one of the following:
She tucks your card into her wallet, where it will remain until the next purging session, at which point it will most likely land in the trash bin.
She shoves it in the dreaded kitchen junk drawer, where it will disappear among the collection of other hapless business cards presented in an equally hopeful fashion by their proud owners.
She places it in her office drawer, where it languishes for the rest of eternity among the pencils, pens, erasers, chewing gum, rubbers bands, etc., never to be looked at again.
She consigns it straight to the trash.
She uses it as a bookmark in the current bestseller she's reading.
Best case scenario: She FILES it alphabetically in her business card holder or rolodex, where it will never be consulted again because the next time she wants a plumber, vet, business consultant, tax agent (or whatever your product or service is), she will do one of the following:
She'll forget you're in her business card collection so she won't look for your card.
She'll forget your name so she won't want to eyeball every card in the holder hoping to identify yours.
She'll go straight to the Yellow Pages or the Internet where she can search by subject.
Of course, in a perfect world, she'd locate your card immediately and call you or drop into your place of business. And that certainly does happen in reality if the person is motivated enough to keep track of your card.
Scenario 2: Promotional Fridge Magnet
You offer your customer a promotional fridge magnet with instructions about the savings deal attached to it.
She leaves the premises and does one of the following:
She tucks the magnet in her purse and discovers it a few days later, at which time she attaches it to the nearest fridge.
She removes the magnet from her purse the same day and attaches it either her workplace or home fridge.
She discovers the magnet and is tempted to toss it in the bin when one of the following things happens:
She remembers that there's a savings offer attached and decides to keep it.
She appreciates the colorful graphics and decides to keep it.
She has second thoughts because it's a useful item in its own right and decides to keep it.
She tosses it anyway.
The bottom line is that although the promotional fridge magnet also runs the risk of being discarded, it is more likely to be saved and utilized on the fridge door.
This highly accessible location raises the chances of your contact information remaining in the forefront of your customer's mind, so that when she needs your products or services, she will think of you immediately and know exactly how to contact you. Of course attaching a savings offer to the magnet will multiply your chances of repeat business exponentially.
So while your initial costs might be higher for promotional fridge magnets, they are more cost effective in the long run because of the wastage factor inherent in the use of business cards. By all means make business cards a part of your promotional activities, but decide in which context they would be most effective. Perhaps they are more useful in business-to-business situations rather than in a business-to-customer transaction.
And remember the most efficient use of business cards: Whenever you offer your business card, always ask for one from the other party.
This gives you the opportunity to make follow-up contact, rather than waiting for the other party to contact you. Which puts you firmly in control of any future contact.
For a look at some of our customers' promotional magnets, visit the Business Magnets page.