If you could get a $10,000 job for an outlay of one greenback dollar, how would you describe your investment? Pretty great economy of scale. Or even a $5000 job for an outlay of $1.80? Still a pretty great ratio, no? Photographers and wedding coordinators, interior designers, contractors, lawyers, a zillion kinds of people are getting jobs of that scale every day, and they are getting them over their competition, to a large extent, because of how they present themselves. What do their clothes say about them? Their manners?
And, pertinent to this post, what is it their business card is saying? What are they leaving behind to remind people of themselves? A scrap of uninspiring paper with their phone number poorly printed on it, or a thick, impressed, well designed bit of information that speaks volumes about who they are, their attention to detail, their aesthetics and all with the implication of what kind of work can be expected of them.
In an economy in which people are thinking “thrift, thrift, thrift,” spending money on anything besides groceries and medicine gets a long, hard examination. But it’s important to remember that people do not live by quick print alone. Art, beauty, simplicity, graciousness: these are qualities civilization requests.
Probably the most-asked first question I receive from prospecting, possible future clients is: How much are these letterpress business cards going to cost?
After doing this for thirty-five years, I still have a hard time with this question. Not only because each job requires its own estimate that takes into consideration the number of processes it will require, the time, the supplies, outside vendors, the quantity, the number of different pieces — but also because I think I have a resistance to naming the number, as if these were just some commodity off the shelf.
I consider the letterpress business card a piece of art that works for its owner. It’s art with a mission, and the mission is attracting business to its owner. So it’s a lot more than a little piece of paper. It’s a representative, and it is powerful. It has the power to create curiosity, to sway opinion and it has the power to stop people in their tracks. I have long believed and seen the evidence, that there is a lot of power in letterpress printing, and that is its great value. It’s a hand craft and it requires a lot of patience and skill, not to mention time. So, when I answer the most-asked question with, “Well, they are coming in around $.80 a piece, or $1 a piece, or $1. 30 a piece for the first thousand, not including design, many people take a little pause. It sounds like so much, and it is so much. Yet, the amount of work and talent and experience that goes into it…well, you would not believe it…And, will the cards you designed yourself and got printed by your neighborhood fastestcheapestprinter get you the kinds of jobs you want to attract? No guarantees, but ask people who have cards we have printed how they work, and what it feels like to pass one to somebody and watch the reaction of wonder.
The question, perhaps, might be, “What will these cards do for me and my business.” And the answer, perhaps, might be, “What do you expect them to do for you and your business?”
If two companies are competing for a job, and both are equally suited to it, their prices close, equally personable people, the business card you leave behind could mean the difference between getting the job and going home to do a little more PR. Letterpress printed business cards should be viewed as an investment in your business, like any advertising or marketing you spend money on, and one that will reap rewards for years to come.
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