My attention was drawn to an interesting business called Send Out Cards.
The basic idea is to use modern design, production and distribution technology to quickly create greeting cards that can be sent from a central point to addresses world-wide.
With the world seemingly moving towards wholly electronic communications, social networking and e-cards the idea of sending paper cards through snail mail seemed intriguingly retro.
So we asked Carol Pengelly to explain how the business model works.
SendOutCards is a MLM [multi-level marketing] business. We purchased a low-cost distributor licence which allowed us to use the complete system whilst also taking advantage of income streams generated, based upon usage and introductions to other users. This MLM depends on word of mouth to grow the business. We saw the opportunity to share this unique marketing tool with other potential users and our distributor licence allows us to receive introduction commissions for demonstrating the software and training new users. Distributors also receive income based on the total volume of cards sent by them and their retail and wholesale customers.
Can you also share why you chose this type of business option?
Firstly we liked the product. SOC gave us an integrated system which allowed us to keep in touch with our clients in a truly unique way. It is a very low cost system to introduce with absolutely no waste involved. There is no need to pre-order great volumes of printed material or tie up cash in postage stamps and stationary. All cards are printed on recycled paper. Quite simply you can pay as you go depending on the number of cards you wish to send in any given day, week or month.
Secondly we liked the idea of being paid a second income stream for using the product and sharing it with others. Getting started was easy. Initial investment costs were less than a small display advertisement in a trade magazine, and on-going usage is very reasonable. It is possible, in theory, to be paid more in commissions than you spend using the system. Also, the system can be accessed from any computer, anywhere in the world, and is held on a secure server. This means there are no data loss concerns or issues with our own computer systems. SendOutCards have a dedicated customer service team ready and waiting to handle any problems or questions we might have with the system and our client base.
What are the benefits?
This business is easy to get into and very affordable.
We can devote as much or as little time to SendOutCards as we wish.
SendOutCards is easy to use, saves us time and money compared to traditional direct mail methods.
We are now able to communicate more effectively with our clients.
Used properly SendOutCards can deliver a wow factor which will help you stand out from the competition.
We receive residual and passive income based upon our own usage as well as others within our distribution network.
What are the drawbacks?
Posting from the USA takes about seven days to arrive at the UK address so forward planning is essential, although the system does prompt you in advance in order to minimise what some may see as a drawback. The cards are designed and printed in the USA and the postmark is shown as Utah, some people may have negative comments about this but we view it as a novelty and a bonus.
Were you not concerned about joining an MLM business?
MLM businesses have suffered some bad press in the past and it is easy to confuse a quality, regulated MLM business with unscrupulous pyramid selling scams. Due diligence will reveal that SendOutCards are a highly respected company who are only one of only 8 businesses which enjoy a strategic partnership with BNI [Business Networking International] in the USA.
How has the business opportunity presented by Send Out Cards benefitted your other businesses?
Who would have believed that our modest entertainment business would see rapid growth to the tune of +40% year on year simply because we chose to concentrate on relationship marketing? Many industry experts point out that your existing clients are your best sales prospects and that they are also likely to be your best source of hot leads and referrals. The problem for many SME’s is finding the time or the best method to stay in touch with their client base. In this modern technological age we often rely on e-commerce to communicate and unfortunately this has its drawbacks. Spam filters and internal company policies regarding receipt, opening of files and attachments or viewing CD ROMs, all become obstacles in our attempts to get our message across.
With SendOutCards you send your customers highly personalised cards through the post using their unique website technology, without ever leaving your office. The system provides and automated, yet highly customised card system for customer follow-up, thank you cards, product or event announcements, and most importantly for generating referrals.
The beauty of using a greeting card system is that traditionally cards are kept, and displayed. A card personalised with an image relating to the recipient is more likely to be shown to colleagues, friends and family and therefore to have a life which extends long beyond that of a letter, fax or e-mail.
In a way what we experienced was the best of both worlds. A traditional direct mail marketing tool linked to an interactive web site which allowed us to create unique cards tailored to our clients. Imagine the response when a client opened their first thank-you card or better still a non-business related card such as a birthday or anniversary card. Our customers appreciated the fact that we cared about them enough to remember their important occasion. We developed our relationships to the point of blurring the definition between friends and customers which naturally led to more genuine referrals.
In our entertainment business we specialise in weddings so you can understand the impact using SendOutCards had with our Brides. We were able to stay in touch from first meeting throughout the planning stages and beyond the big day itself. All of our brides now receive anniversary cards automatically without any further action required on our part.
Now I understand dear reader that you may already be doing something similar, so were we, but we were not doing it consistently. Nor were we able to do it so professionally or cost effectively whilst spending very little precious time once the system was set up.
People buy people and miraculously after a little while people started contacting us, asking how we were able to remember their special dates and how did we create such a fantastic greeting card. So we told them. Which leads us to explain that anyone can join SendOutCards and instantly start sending cards to their friends, family, colleagues, customers and clients?
We are now independent distributors which mean we get paid to demonstrate the products and train people on how to create and send cards. This has now led to a “company within a company” which not only creates additional revenue but which helps us build relationships with other SMEs from all over the UK. We are now able to help other companies build their relationships with their clients. Not only are we able to give advice on logistics we are also able to share examples of cards within the system. It is also possible for individuals within the same organisation to share and exchange contact details instantly. We also have access to superb support staff over in the USA and of course we now have a team of users over here willing to share their experiences.
We are glad to report that direct mail is alive and well despite rumours to the contrary. Today these products are created from sustainable sources and recycled materials, so there is a certain feel good factor to be had and the benefit of knowing that you are contributing to supporting traditional industries.
The postman will like you too!