Don’t leave home without it

Electronic business card supersedes standard paper one

First impressions carry a lot of weight when conducting business. If you’re looking to make those first encounters memorable, then say good-bye to your regular business card. With a digital business card, you can introduce your company to potential clients using HTML and multimedia presentations.

The card is a specially designed CD that slips into a standard CD-ROM drive. It is cut in the size and shape of a typical business card. On its face are the usual company logo and your contact information (name, title, address and phone number). But the electronic card can contain up to 40 MB of data, including HTML, audio files, video clips, animation, presentation graphics, product/service demos and feedback forms. Links to Websites can be embedded in the card as well. Think of it as a portable mini-Internet portal.

Successful.com (formerly Successful Marketing Strategists) is one of several companies that customize digital cards for small businesses as well as large corporations. Five years ago, the Oakland, California-based firm added Internet services to its conventional marketing services. It has since developed Net strategies and implemented tactical projects for clients such as AT&T, Microsoft, Lotus and Symantec.

Company president Craig Settles believes strategic business planning is the only thing that will prevent electronic business cards from becoming another ho-hum presentation device that ends up in the circular file. It is for this reason that Successful.com has a threefold objective.

First, to make the card a lively introduction of the people who distribute it. Second, to create content for the card that engages recipients interactively and imparts valuable information, so that they regularly access the card and view files even when they are not connected to the Net. Third, to integrate the card with community-building content on clients’ Websites that induces repeat visits and encourages networking among card recipients.

The Successful Electronic Business Card can be designed to run on both PC and Macintosh systems running Windows 95/98/NT/2000 operating systems or Mac OS 8.5 or 9. The card can be printed in four-color process silk screen or lithography.

Production costs of the cards are based on quantity. But the average starting cost (including set-up fees) for 1,000 cards is $1.50 per card. Of course this makes digital cards quite costly, especially when you can get a box of standard business cards at your local print shop for under $100. However, the benefits of electronic business cards may outweigh their costs.

Business cards are one of the most fundamental tools that a company uses to establish and maintain relationships. Successful.com’s service gives this tool greater power and flexibility to not only enhance companies’ marketing activities, but to improve the way they do business, according to Settles.

Settles adds that “our job is to give your company a calling card with a tremendous punch.” So, the next time you or your staff are exchanging business cards with other execs, make sure you have your digital business card handy.

ACROSS THE WEB