What to do with all of these options? Which is what, and what is best? Aren’t they all the same, or are they different? Or, are they almost the same as being different? Okay, calm down… Let’s see if we can sort this stuff out and decipher what the differences are between all of these marketing tools.
Since ‘business cards’ were first on the scene, let’s start there. As a brief history, business cards were originated in 17th century France, although some research shows they were first used in 15th century China. In either case, they were referred to as “Visiting Cards” which were more like invitations. However they were utilized for just about any purpose where brief writing would be appropriate. Visiting cards soon evolved into “Trade Cards” where they specifically provided business information including a map to the business. As printing methods were developed to become more efficient, “business cards” became a more popular means of distributing advertising for one’s business.
Business cards have not changed much in the last couple hundred years aside from adding color and maybe glossing them up a bit. Now if there’s any wonder why business cards haven’t changed much in the last couple hundred years, the answer is simple; as bland as they may be, they’re still somewhat effective and they serve their purpose.
Relative to the business card, the “drop card” has a rather brief history. So brief in fact, that you’d be hard pressed to find any factual historical information on them at all. In conducting any research at all, you’re most likely to see someone advertising their version of a drop card for sale or their advice on how to use them.
Sizzle Cards are essentially synonymous with drop cards. With an even more recent history, the term “sizzle card” was simply coined as a marketing term to emphasize that a drop card should have a message so hot that it sizzles. So if drop cards are the same as sizzle cards, how are they different than business cards? While a business card is simply a card that contains as much information regarding a business as possible, a drop card typically has very little information. They generally have just enough information to peak someone’s curiosity to make them want to call or log on to a website. It may not have any real information at all, but more of a statement with a call to action that “sizzles.” An example of a drop card message might be something like, “PUT OUR MONEY TO WORK FOR YOU! Call (800) 555-5555 for more information.”
As young as drop cards and sizzle cards may be, they are also beginning to see some evolutionary progress. As many things evolve and develop, they tend to go through a series of trials and errors. Such would be the case with dollar cards. Dollar cards are a brilliant innovation to the drop card and sizzle card concept, but unfortunately, were initially poorly executed. I believe the first attempts at this novelty were created with a million dollar card. Although seemingly an interesting idea because you could use such slogans as, “Thanks a million!” or “This opportunity could be worth a $Million Dollars!”, it just smacked of being entirely phony when executed.
Many printers would not even consider trying to recreate actual U.S. currency for fear of the unknown concerns of whether or not it was legal. Until recently, the million dollar drop card was about as innovative as you could get with sizzle card marketing. Nowadays, a few have ventured into reproducing U.S. currency for the purposes of dollar card marketing. However, you can see by the quality of most, that they still have not done their legal research or they simply don’t care to produce a quality product. Although some of the dollar card vendors are venturing into U.S. cash, most still do not have a convincing enough appearance to be as effective as they could be.
The most common dollar cards are produced in denominations of the $20 dollar bill and the most popular $100 dollar bill drop cards. However, customized $5 and $10 dollar cards are also available and are widely used as coupons for restaurants, car washes, or other services where discounts are appropriate.
Yet another difference between traditional business cards and drop cards (or sizzle cards) is the means by which they are distributed. As business cards are traditionally presented from one person to another, typically during or immediately following a business conversation, drop cards have vastly more flexible distribution methods. Drop cards, as their name suggests, can simply be “dropped” in a busy public area. If you’re using an ordinary sizzle card, it’s best to place them on tables in public areas such as a coffee shop or waiting room where someone would be able to read it without even picking it up. However, if you’re using something like the 100 dollar bill business card, well you can leave those just about anywhere and someone’s bound to scramble to pick it up within seconds. Even a $5, $10, or $20 dollar drop card is going to command immediate attention upon sight. Now of course, we don’t condone littering. However, if you were to drop one on a shopping center sidewalk and step aside and wait a moment while someone picks it up, then it’s not littering. It’s merely a temporary placement. This also affords you the opportunity to approach the finder of your card and perhaps make your pitch. Put one on a coffee shop chair as if it has fallen out of someone’s pocket. How long do you suppose it will stay there? You could even be as direct and go into a place of business and just hand one over to the manager with your pitch. Do you think they’ll get some immediate attention there? Absolutely.
If you still can’t get passed the “littering” idea, then they’re just as effective being handed person to person just like a traditional business card, but better. Imagine if you were a network marketer and you handed a $100 dollar drop card to someone. You could say something like, “This card is worth $500-$1000 a week for a part time effort.” You’d be mistaken if you didn’t think that most people would take that card swiftly out of your hands and hold on to it.
Some of the obvious benefits to dollar bill drop cards is that they’re realistic enough that people will notice immediately. They will go out of their way to get their hands on it and they’ll keep it in their wallets or purses for a good long time. They’re also very likely to share it with their friends and family, and they’ll NEVER throw it away. Can that be said about your average, every day, business card? No way.