Author business cards are important (See Codebreaking For Beginners) and we often hand them or postcards of our latest novels out in the hope they will generate sales. However, how many times do you get that feeling that as soon as someone walks off with one of your cards, it’ll be forgotten? It will stay in a wallet or purse until the person empties it or worse still, it will be thrown away in the nearest bin.
Here’s a simple way to engage people, to make them read your card and hopefully hang onto it a little longer rather than throw it away without looking at it.
Purchase transparent or patterned food/gift bags from a cheap retail outfit. I got one hundred bags decorated with love hearts last year in a sale, for a mere £2 ($3.35).
You also require matching ribbon, your business cards and a treat. By treat, I mean a small roll of sweets, a wrapped chocolate or a tiny gift. Gifts can be cheap key rings, small badges (like my flashing Mister Smiley badge below to accompany my Grumpy books) or anything appropriate. You really don’t want to spend much money at all, so scour shops during sales or look at low cost retailers such as Poundland in UK.
I took advantage of the fact it was soon to be Valentine’s Day and bought one hundred small packets of Love Hearts for £3.00 (approximately $5.00) to put in my gift bags. My generation are nostalgic about these sweets. They were a childhood favourite for many.
Place one packet of sweets, chocolate or gift into the plastic bag along with your author business card. Tie the bag with ribbon. Hey presto! You now have an attractive bag to hand out instead of just a card. You can make the bag even more attractive by adding stickers to the outside.
I found people to be far more appreciative of a small gift bag than a business card or postcard. I heard one woman exclaim in high-pitched excited tones, “Oh, Love Hearts, I haven’t had those for years.” People chatted to me, asked me questions about my books and didn’t leap into the nearest shop in an attempt to avoid me as is normally the case when I stand in the street handing out postcards or leaflets. People are far more likely to accept a small gift bag from you than a card. They are curious. Besides, who doesn’t like a freebie?
You can try this as part of a book launch, or just to boost sales during a lull. Retailers cash in on celebrations like Easter, Mothering Sunday, Valentines’ Day and so should you. Try giving out miniature chocolate Easter eggs, flower-shaped chocolates for Mothering Sunday or think of other ideas. If you’ve got a book about sports, get some energy sweets. If you write horror, add those Haribo jelly sweets shaped like skeletons or ghosts you can purchase all year.
Were my cards well-received? I think so. The last time I handed out fifty business cards in the street, I sold only three books. On Valentine’s Day, I handed out all of my bags at a total cost of £6.00. I checked my sales forty-eight hours later and discovered I sold seventy-three books at an average cost of £1.99. If the people who bought those books enjoyed them, they should buy one or more of my other books. So, I would consider that a good result.
Next time you feel you could do with a boost in sales, try it out. If you ensure you don’t spend more than the cost of a couple of books then it’ll be worthwhile. I bet more people will look at your business card and remember you as a result.
37 thoughts on “How to Make People Read Your Business Card”
You are an inspiration, Carol.
I am genuinely touched by that comment. Thank you, Yvonne.
Nifty idea, thank you! Hmm…
Nifty is my middle name 😀
What a great idea. My writing group recently had a visiting author speak. She gave out business cards with a tiny bag with one chocolate. This was attached to her business card with a little bit of tartan ribbon (I live in Scotland). I still have her business card yet. Your idea develops this even further and I love it.
There are so many ways you can develop this, Wendy. I’ve been out getting small fluffy Easter chicks for my next promo blast and some wicked pop-up smileys to accompany my Grumpy books. Something decorative always works.The tartan ribbon idea is excellent.
Great idea, Carol. I suspect it worked especially well for you because Valentine’s Day is a holiday that fits well with the subject matter of your books. I could ser other authors keying off different holidays or seasons, depending on what their books are about. Well done!
Quite right, Lynne. Halloween is a super holiday to promote books with all the chocolates and candies available or you could just celebrate the seasons – a small flower in Spring and so on. Anything that is different and inexpensive will work.
What a great idea! I’m definitely going to do this – thank you!
You’re welcome, Melinda. It’s a simple idea but it works!
This is great, indeed. At least if they have to open a bag, they can’t immediately use my bookmarks to pick their teeth. Brilliant, Carol!
I tied mine so tightly they needed their teeth to rip them open 🙂
There’s nothing like a bit of good lateral thinking.I confidently expect the streets of Oxford to be lined by eager authors, all giving out goody bags and business cards this weekend, as Sunday is Mothering Sunday in UK.
I might even have a go myself, if I can find some snappy cellophane bags.
You’ll find me there waving my special Mothering Sunday goody bags, Ian. Get your bags form the baking department of a supermarket an add your own appropriate stickers to the bags to jazz them up. WHSmith have loads of cheap stickers. It’s even cheaper than buying jazzy bags. 🙂
Great idea. I think your books lend themselves to fun, vivacious ideas. But, I guess everyone can get creative and try to come up with ideas that are nifty for books that are more sober.
RJ, you can use this idea with any book. Make the bag relevant or just give out a small chocolate with your card. It’ll have a similar effect.
Awesome ideas. I’ll be trying it with my next release! Thanks, Carol.
Make sure you send me a goody bag for your next release, Jim. 🙂
Excellent ideas! And your sales results show just how persuasive a small gift can be. Hmm, I’m off to think up ideas!
It’s been proven psychologically that if you give someone something for free, they’ll reciprocate and buy something of yours. Get your thinking hat on…
Carol, thanks for sharing this idea, it sounds like you have come up with a winner. My local library allows you to leave bookmarks by the checkout; I wonder if they would consider the goody bags? Think of the captive audience.
That would be brilliant. Have a word with them and see if they’ll let you do that. Libraries are the best place to market your work or leave business cards.
Brilliant idea, Carol. I must try this.
Thanks, Mary. Let me know how it goes.
Great marketing tool! I have done this for all of my book signings, and I know I’ve created more sales by it I have also done it at other events and feel I too have gotten a good return for the little bit of money I’ve spent. Everyone loves a gift, and that’s exactly what these little bags are!!
I forgot to mention, that here in the US, Dollar Tree stores are a great place to get cheap supplies. Overnight Prints is also a good online source for book marks, business card, and the like.
Many thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you too have found this idea to work. In the UK we have Poundland which is the equivalent store to Dollar Trees although I also get stuff form cheap supermarkets. I’ll take a look at Overnight Prints. That’s very helpful because I’m always looking for suppliers of book marks and so on. You’re right about everyone loving a gift and it doesn’t have to be an expensive one.
Great idea! All the dolIar-type stores are great places to shop for cheap gifts. I also design and print my own cards and make certain my photo is on it so they don’t forget me. It’s worked every time.
Excellent idea to put your photograph on your cards, Ester. I intend doing that when this bunch of cards runs out. 🙂
Great idea if you are going to be stationary. But for the author on the run, I’m lucky I have business cards in my purse!
You should put them in your purse. You never know when you’ll need to drag one out. 😉
Fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you,, Tricia. Always happy to help. 😀
Excellent, Carol, you are just a bundle of fun ideas!
I tried giving away bookmarks in my local library once. It didn’t do much for sales of my books but it did cause a short term increase in the number of people drawing copies out of the library.
I now leave a bunch of bookmarks in every bookshop I visit and ask them to give them away to anyone buying books – not just my books, anyone’s books. It is noticeable that in the weeks after a visit a few more of my books get ordered.
This is a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
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