Create-A-Card Marks 25 Years

Posted on April 29, 2011

Arthur Messina earned his degree in Food and Business in 1984 and worked for the Marriot Corporation right out of college. After working as a manager there for two years, he realized the industry was not for him.

“It felt impersonal,” he recalls. “You become more of a number in a big corporation like that, and you weren’t respected for your knowledge.” Messina, who is certainly respected as an invaluable source of industry know-how among his peers, clients, and competitors, says he was more interested in the business aspect of his degree. He had a passion for photography and decided to turn it into a business idea: photo business cards.

Thus, Create-A-Card, Inc. was born. The limousine industry was a natural fi t because owners needed a way to show their vehicles to the public.

One of Messina’s fi rst clients was a company down the street from his house. “We took the car to a park and shot some photos, and that was one of the first samples I had,” he says. The business took off, and as many industry members know, has expanded into a full-service marketing provider, helping operators with anything from brochures and fl iers to social media to website and logo design. Whether the client is a newcomer to the industry or a 30-plus year veteran, Create-A-Card, Inc. makes sure to help them communicate messages well.

CAC 25th Anniversary to read the full story.

Branding Secrets…

Posted on April 27, 2011

Your brand reflects the personality of your company and promises customers high value for the money they exchange for your goods or services.

Branding, however, is not easy and companies often make these 7 mistakes:

1. They try to be all things to all people. It is better to just focus on meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of your target market.

2. Branding is not instantaneous. You have to think long, not short-term. A brand has to mature over time to be effective. Instant branding measures confuse customers and lose market share.

3. Branding should have a long-term perspective. Don’t limit your brand to what you are only doing now. Keep the possibility open for new technologies to completely upgrade your current best practices.

4. Even if your product is approximately the same thing, your brand should have something unique. Coca Cola and Pepsi are both similar looking and tasting sugared drinks, but they have been branded in completely different ways, resulting in consumers actually arguing about which is better.

5. While differentiation is important, it should not be overdone. The consumer should still feel a sense of familiarity with the product. For instance, Dell computers are designed in a slightly different way from other computers, but consumers are not bewildered by the customized configurations of Dell because they are similar enough to other computers to make them feel comfortable.

6. When your brand is attacked, you should defend it. Ignoring negative press will not make it go away. In fact, the rumors might even get worse. Brand reputation management will save your brand from collapsing under the weight of spurious competitors allegations.

7. Focus your brand on quality, rather than pricing. The Mac computers cost twice as much as PCs, but they also offer a lot more value, especially for those who do graphic design or online marketing. So, is it really expensive, or just different in a good way?

What are some of the branding mistakes your company makes?

Prom Season Is Here…Are you ready?

Posted on March 21, 2011

 

There are too many proms on the same date. There are too many kids taking buses or driving themselves. No one is spending money anymore. Forget the na-sayers and start thinking about what you can do now to promote your company and book more jobs this season.

Start off by knowing your market. You are now selling to the 16-19 year old age range. At the same time, you are also selling your services to the parents of the 16-19 year olds. The students still want exciting, lights, loud sound, new, fancy, unique, one of a kind, and cool chauffeurs. While the parents are looking for safety, reputation, reliability, rules and a fair price.

So how do you accomplish this? 

You need to promote to both categories in a way to get their attention. Sell the excitement and fun experience to the students and sell the safety and reliability to the parents. This can be done by the means of a post card mailing, hand outs (fliers), a Facebook page, Youtube videos, referrals, website, prom showcase or your prom advertisements.

Post Card MailingsMost Effective. At this age group the students are receiving large quantities of mail from colleges. 

An oversized post card stands out more amongst the other clutter and also gives the parents the opportunity to see the card as well. 

Hand Outs (Fliers – Brochures) – A great way to showcase your company services and fleet. Be different, be unique, promise only what you can offer. Leave them in stores, pass them out at showcases, give to friends, hire some young sales students to help you in exchange for a discount for themselves.

Facebook Page – Youtube – Need I say more! If you don’t have one, start one up today. Every teenager is on Facebook and using Youtube and so are most of their parents. 

Prom Showcase – Display your best vehicle, most unique, brand new or perhaps a one of a kind type of vehicle. Decorate the interior to show fun and exciting, Have a younger driver and/or sales person that the kids can relate to, but not too young, where the parents are concerned. Make sure that you represent your company well. What people see is their first impression of you and your company. Have take away materials and promotional give aways so they can bring them back to show their friends and parents.

As a final note, package your prom pricing as an all inclusive price. This will make it much easier for the students and parents to understand what the cost will be per person. Example: offer your prom pricing as low as $79 pp (based on the vehicle size) to generate attention.  As most of them will be sharing the cost for your service. If you follow this simple tips for attracting more prom business, you will end up booking more jobs.

Press Release Secrets

Posted on February 28, 2011

It’s not unusual for media editors and journalists to receive hundreds of press releases every day.

This means that you have a lot of competition and you have to do something exceptional to get yours picked out. Fortunately, it is a lot simpler to do this than you might imagine. When you focus on quality, your press releases will stand out from the crowd.

Here are the top ten qualities your press release should include:

1. An attention-grabbing headline has to do two things simultaneously: convey the gist of your press release while stirring curiosity. Without a power-packed headline, your press release will not even be read. Instead, it will be relegated to the filing cabinet just below the editor’s desk (the trash bin).

Here are some tips to create compelling headlines:

• Be brief, succinct, and snappy.
• Reveal the gist of the story.
• Don’t be confusing.
• Send a clear message.
• Avoid hype and sales.

2. Send it to the right target media audience. For instance, if your field is biotechnology, a press release on a new scientific breakthrough will not be relevant to a media editor who only focuses on the financial markets.

3. Respect the time of news people. Since they have to sift through hundreds of press releases every day, they appreciate brevity. Keep your information focused on who, what, where, when, why, and how. Edit out any extraneous information.

4. Stay objective. Stick to the facts and stay clear of unsubstantiated claims. Use statistics, curb your enthusiasm, and stay objective.

5. Remember to always follow up. Despite the high quality of your press release, media people get busy and distracted, so follow up.

7. If you have a lot of additional information that you want to communicate, then create an online press release kit. Simply send the media person an embedded link, so they can find out more if they choose.

8. Respond immediately to any inquiries. If a journalist contacts you, respond immediately. If you procrastinate, you will have sabotaged your press release campaign.

9. Use a cell phone for all your marketing. A landline may drop the call or result in a static reception.

10. Be prepared to answer questions that you may be asked in an interview. For instance, who you are, what you do, what makes you unique, and why you do what you do.

What do you do to get your press releases read and acted on?

Direct Mail Marketing Tips

Posted on February 22, 2011

Direct mail can be an effective marketing tool if you learn how to use it to your advantage. Limousine companies can use direct mail to get new clients and keep them. Transportation companies are more local than most other businesses that advertise. This makes direct mail an especially effective way to reach the target audience. Mailing a well-designed card is a great step towards building a loyal customer clientele. When people receive a card in the mail that is noticeable, they are more likely to save it to reference in the future. Anyone can create a unique, memorable card for their direct mail advertising campaign with a few simple guidelines in mind.

1. Make your card an attention-grabber.
You only have a few seconds to convince the recipient to learn more about your company. When designing a card for your business, make bright colors your best friend. People are attracted to vibrant, exciting images. Your initial goal is to have the recipient look at your card long enough to be interested in seeing what you have to offer. If you don’t use eye-catching colors, your card might get tossed aside.

2. Keep the text brief and to the point.
If you put too much writing on your card, you risk losing the recipient’s attention. Small fonts and too much text tend to overwhelm people. Write a first draft of what you want to say and then think about how to shorten it to a few key phrases. Include a phrase that will encourage people to contact you. Make sure that your contact information is clearly visible.

3. Look for inspiration everywhere you go.
Pay attention to the images you see daily. People see hundreds of advertisements a day. Be conscious of which ones you like the most. Learning what images impress you can help you figure out what kind of visuals work. Use the techniques you’ve noticed are effective for creating your own card.

4. Create a brand and stick to it.
Decide how you want to present your business and stay true to it. In order to be successful, you need to be consistent with the message you are sending. People don’t trust businesses that change their slogans often. They see them as unreliable. Create your own tagline that sums up what you want the recipient to know about your company in one short sentence.

5. Don’t clutter your card.
While using bright colors is a must, make sure that the overall effect isn’t overwhelming. Your card should still look professional. Use white spaces for text. Don’t make the mistake of putting your text on a colorful background. It might blend in and be too hard to read.

Three Common Trade Show Mistakes

Posted on February 9, 2011

www.createacardinc.comTrade shows are great way to market your business, but if you don’t handle situation correctly they can be a monumental waste of time, energy and money. Below are three common mistakes that many exhibitors make that compromise their ability to make the most out of a potentially lucrative situation.

Cheesy Booth Presentations

Too often businesses are tempted to skimp on the backgrounds for their trade show booth, but since the overall eye appeal is a major factor this should be a priority number one in your budget. Invest in slick, a professionally generated graphics, logos and banners on durable materials that won’t show wear and tear after a few shows and make sure your staff knows how to assemble them properly.

People are not in the mood to read a lot of text in a trade show atmosphere, so come up with crisp, concise language that has a playful tone. Instead of handing out tons of literature, create catchy giveaway items with your contact information — especially your website — prominently displayed. Any tasteful “special affects” that you can add to attract the eye are fair game at a trade show, so be bold and experiment with contemporary colors, rotating displays, flashing lights and alluring audio.

Expecting Too Much

Don’t think just because you invest a bundle on your presentation and have a lot of catchy giveaways that your clients will show up at your booth if you haven’t let them know you are going to be at the trade show in the first place. It is crucial to have a broadcast strategy that starts at least one month before the event to notify all of your customers, affiliates and interested parties about your participation in the trade show, what information or special deals they can expect to find and general information about the area where the trade show will be held.

Devise some intriguing trade show coupons or special local offers for visitors to your booth in your pre-trade show literature. Also be sure to provide internet links to relevant web sites that could help them do their own research and hopefully encourage them to attend.

Losing the Sale

Don’t calculate your trade show success by how many brochures your hand out or business cards you collect, but instead by how well your staff harvested crucial contact information, interacted with potential clients and were able to listen to their concerns and answer inquiries from attendees. Data collection techniques should be established, tested and double checked before every trade show and be constantly refined to capture maximum data in a minimal amount of time.

Another mistake too commonly made is that a lot of material collected is mishandled after the trade show. Be sure you have a staff member delegated specifically to establish professional follow-up procedures and respond quickly to contacts, questions and any loose ends. Make sure that no potential customers get overlooked and your collection and retrieval methods are constantly streamlined for better results in the future.

Last Minute Holiday Marketing Tips

Posted on December 15, 2010

www.createacardinc.comEmphasize family in your marketing campaigns. Because holidays – Christmas especially – are often about family, stressing this unit in all your holiday marketing campaigns can help attract high-quality customers and clients.

Family is the ultimate common ground of holidays because they represent a time for families to gather, and that smart business owners will keep this in mind when thinking about special holiday marketing and sales programs.

Ask your prospects and clients what’s on their holiday wish list through surveys … and give yourself the gift of case studies and testimonials from satisfied clients. A savvy business owner will survey his/her clients and prospective customers several times per year to gauge their needs. The holidays provide a chance to check in with those in your sales funnel by sending out holiday messages… with surveys, so you can build marketing campaigns that will speak to the real needs of your customer and client base.

And last but not least, don’t forget to send holiday greeting cards either by the post office or email to thank clients for their business–a little thanks goes a LONG way!

4 tips to help you launch a successful direct marketing campaign

Posted on November 22, 2010

According to a  new study by Epsilon Data Management, U.S. adult consumers are more trusting of offline sources of information than what they find online. What’s more, 79% of respondents said they prefer to receive creative direct mail because it’s more convenient than email as a delivery method. When done correctly, opt-in direct mail can help you reach a market you may be having difficulty connecting with.

Here are a few tips to help you launch a successful direct marketing campaign:

  1. Narrow your focus. Marketing experts says it takes at least three pieces of mail per month for your customers to really notice your direct mail efforts. That may sound overwhelming, but the price tag and energy of sending 5,000 fliers to 5,000 different customers or 5 fliers to 1,000 customers over five weeks is exactly the same. If you narrow your focus, you can increase your effectiveness without any extra effort.
  2. Provide incentives. Include coupons, free samples, or special deals to spur your target audience to respond to your offer. It doesn’t have to be a major budget buster; you could also offer something based in time rather than money. For example, if you own a small community bank, consider a free consultation with a financial professional. Or if you own a high-end clothing store, offer the VIP treatment — as in a special shopping experience.
  3. Don’t go it alone. Shared mailers (catalogues or coupon-filled envelopes compiled by third-party companies, featuring advertisements from multiple businesses) are another effective way to get your company’s message into consumers’ mailboxes. Co-op mailers can also provide you with data by area code to help you better market your product or service.
  4. Keep goals realistic. Measuring success against average response rates or other direct mail statistics is not always the best practice. Set goals that make sense for your specific business, keeping in mind your product and your price point. For example, you could track the traffic to your website to see if there was a significant spike in the weeks after your mailer went out. The bottom line: stay focused and realistic to ensure that direct mail marketing is working for you.

Holiday Marketing Tips

Posted on November 5, 2010

www.createacardinc.comWhat are your plans for the holidays? This is the same question that your customers are asking themselves. With questions like this on everyone’s mind now would be a good time to start some suggestive selling of your services for the holidays. You can start by promoting family holiday tours, trips to see the festive sites in NYC, light tours of homes from around your service area, transfers to the airport for holiday travel and don’t forget revenue generating gift certificates and gift cards.

So how do you do this you ask? The answer is simple. Start with your social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Start by posting holiday events in your area. Provide times and dates of tree lighting displays, holiday concerts and special events. If you have a blog start posting holiday happenings around your service area. Bring up the topic of transportation safety for holiday parties and keep your readers excited about the upcoming events they could attend. Send out a post card mailing or a email with holiday offers and specials that you currently are offering. You can also send out your holiday cards as early as Thanksgiving to stand out from all the other cards and include a business card or magnet to act as a reminder about the services you offer.

If you start your holiday marketing now and incorporate some of the seasonal holiday marketing tips into your year end marketing plan, you will notice an increase in sales during the last two months of the year. Aunt Sally needs a ride to and from the airport, Uncle Joe needs a gift for his nephew and the Johnson family would love to visit Rockerfeller Center this year in stretch limousine. All it takes is some suggestive selling, special holiday offers on your behalf to make the holiday season successful for your company.

Create-A-Card, Inc. CEO Arthur Messina’s Video Interview With MyPathBuilder

Posted on October 25, 2010