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ASK Priority: Many cards for many audiences

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2006 by

 

Q. Many cards for Many Audiences

I’ve run a small but successful florist shop for a number of years but sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve lost potential customers because my business card was too general and didn’t explain all the different types of services my business provides for weddings, funerals, and party planning. What can I do?—AK, Milwaukee, WI

A.
Rather than try and cram more information onto your business card, thereby making it less concise and clear—a common mistake—many marketing experts recommend abandoning the one-size-fits-all method altogether. “Your business card should be geared to fit the type of business you represent and the audience you are attempting to attract,” notes Melissa Crowe, marketing vice president of Vista Print, a Massachusetts-based printing company, one of several firms offering business card design services. (PrintingForLess, a PriorityPerksSM partner, is another.) This is particularly true for businesses that seek to connect emotionally with potential clients who may have radically different mindsets when they walk into your shop (think wedding versus funeral).

In your case, try developing three distinctly different business cards geared toward each of your small business’s varying clientele. For weddings prospects, you might consider features such as off-beat colored stock or a vertical layout to signal your artistic ability and creativity. In dealing with your close, relationship-based customers, like those needing your party planning skills, you might include your photo on your business card. Finally, you might distribute a third business card to funeral homes, one that is printed on heavy, white stock and conveys a more somber and traditional tone. “Using more than one business card is effective for companies that market themselves to two or more very different types of consumers,” Crowe notes.

In addition, maximizing your business card’s sales effectiveness means taking advantage of both front and back, even if it does cost a bit more to print. “Don’t waste space,” she says. “Use the back of your business card to offer coupons, product information, customer testimonials, or quotes.” Anything, in other words, that can further build your small business’s brand in those precious few seconds that a potential customer holds your business card. After all, it’s not just your business card, but your business itself that’s in their hands, so, make it count.

Q. Where to find investors

We have a small business which imports specialty green (unroasted) coffee beans in bags from Kenya in a container and then resells the coffee beans to small and big coffee roasters across the USA. We have already built a small customer base and we know there is a large potential for tremendous growth. However, just like most small business, we lack enough financing to allow expansion and to increase our inventory. Where can we find potential investors?—MK, Jacksonville, FL

A.

There is a wide array of financing possibilities for fledgling companies with high growth potential. Venture capitalists and angel investors will invest directly in your firm in exchange for a percentage of equity in the business. (See “Raising Capital for Growth” in the March/April issue.) Venture capitalists are usually firms that invest money in startup and business turnarounds, whereas angel investors are usually private individuals who invest their own money. Venture capitalists often demand a greater say in the company’s management than angel investors, but both can offer management guidance and useful business contacts.

In Florida, the Florida Venture Forum (floridaventureforum.com) provides networking opportunities for small firms to meet with venture capitalists and sponsors the annual Florida Venture Capital Conference. There is also the National Venture Capital Association (nvca.org), which provides contacts to regional and national venture capitalists.

Likewise, a number of nationwide organizations exist for angel investors, including Gathering of Angels (gatheringofangels.com) and Investor’s Circle (investorscircle.net). Floridian angel investors can be found at Florida Angel Investors (floridaangel.com).

Before pitching your company to investors, it is critical to have a welldeveloped business plan, which realistically outlines the company’s plans for growth. Potential investors will want to examine your financial records and probably conduct background checks on your current owners and senior management, so it’s best to admit any past issues up front.

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