Great Ideas for your Small Business: Promote with Prepaid Phone Cards
Phone cards have been popular in europe since the mid-1980s when British Telecom first issued them to make it easier for customers to call home from Germany and France. But they took another ten years to take hold in America. “We in the United States are not used to prepaying for anything,” said Rick March, president of MHA Communications in Highland Park, Illinois.
March, who previously worked in the telecommunications industry, decided to make his niche in phone cards. His company helps clients make a marketing splash with the popular plastic cards, which are now fast becoming collector’s items. In addition to giving away free calls to clients as an incentive to use your services, you can also use the phone cards to take a market survey or to provide product information. For a survey, you send out the cards and ask recipients to call a toll-free 800 number. A menu-driven voice mail system asks a few short questions, and the answers are record- ed. After completing the survey, customers can use the card to make free domestic or international telephone calls, depending on how you set it up.
A polling company provides help with the surveys, while MCI and Sprint provide the actual long-distance service, March said. The survey costs between $1,000 and $2,000 to conduct.
Even if a survey isn’t for you, giving away phone cards as a promotion is very affordable. For example, a small company can buy 500 ten-minute phone cards with their logo printed on the front and a recorded message for about $1,000, March said. You can send in your own artwork or pay his firm to design something appropriate.
“We can make a card with anything from five free minutes to three free hours,” he said. Best of all, “there is a high perceived value of $5 to $10 for a fifteen-minute card, although it costs you much less.”
March said the greatest thing about phone cards is that they are so easy to use.