In my last post, ‘Timing is Everything‘ I encouraged you to create an editorial calendar to optimize your opportunities to use timing to increase exposure of your content and posts.
In this post, I will give you some suggestions for things to do when you find yourself with last minute opportunities, didn’t plan ahead or just plain ran out of time.
Sometimes, the best opportunities present themselves at the last minute – someone is sick and you are called to present or you are invited, serendipitously to a fabulous networking event. Had you some advance notice you might have printed a brochure or ran another batch of business cards. (And yes, I know that there are some of you that wouldn’t plan for anything, even if your life depended on it but I will humor myself with the planning premise for now…) Here are some suggestions for last minute ways to make sure that you provide your guests, new networking colleagues and potential leads with the info they need to follow up with you.
Quandary 1. Wish you had a brochure to hand out
A printed brochure can be a great leave behind but you can always create a digital version (if you have a printed one, have your graphic designer create a PDF file for you as well) that you can host on your website. Then, at the event, you can direct people to the address – just remember to make it easy to find. Bonus points for ‘going green’!
Another option is to collect business cards and email the digital brochure to them after the event. While this is an extra, sometimes time-consuming step, it has the advantage of helping you grow your mailing list! Remember to tell people if you are going to add them to your e-newsletter or other mailing list when you are collecting the cards.
Quandary 2. Have the opportunity to put something in an event ‘goody bag’ but don’t have anything ready.
I have had this happen on more than one occasion and as someone who likes to plan, it can be kind of frustrating. I do NOT suggest having reams of one-pagers or brochures printed ‘just in case’ but here are a few ideas:
If you do have a digital brochure or ‘one-sheet’ (a bio page with photo and promo info) give your printer a call. Holly at Minute Man Press in Newark, NJ is awesome and if she can, she will usually rush a job like this, especially if she already has the file.
But sometimes, you just don’t have that much time. In that case, you can usually take a digital file or even a physical sample to someplace like Staples or Kinkos and have them run them on the spot for you. The quality is not as great but it can work if necessary.
You can also create a decent flyer type handout using WORD or Pages and print that out on good quality paper. You can find that at Staples and Office Max or, for more unusual and creative options including card stock, try Michael’s, AC Moore and the other crafts stores. Even Target has a good selection of paper that you an run thru your own desktop printer or take to Staples or Kinkos to have them run the prints.
Quandary 3. Ran out of Business Cards
I have already written a post lamenting the fact that so many professionals forget to simply carry and share their business cards. But there is also the case of people running out of cards before or during a big event. Most big printing companies DO offer overnight printing but it is usually prohibitively expensive. I do highly recommend making sure that you always have enough of these on hand, just in case you need them.
If you have beautiful cards that are so expensive that you are reluctant to carry and share them regularly, I highly recommend creating a printing a decent number, it can be as few as 100, of less expensive cards so that you do have some to pass around freely. Business cards will not get you a single job if they are stowed away in your wallet, purse or desk drawer. And be honest, how many jobs do you really need to get to justify $15 for 100 double sided, premium quality business cards?!
Places like OvernightPrints.com and ModernPostcard.com offer inexpensive yet professional options. Please do NOT use those ‘free’ or REALLY really cheap cards that have the printing company’s name and info on them – that is NOT professional and they are usually on such low quality paper that it actually will leave your prospect with a bad impression about your business!
Also keep in mind that while a place like OvernightPrints WILL run and deliver your cards overnight, the upcharge is HUGE and certainly not worth the effort.
Another spur of the moment business card fix is to make and run your own using an Avery template and their perforated cardstock. These can look rather dull and temporary but can be a lifesaver if you just need a few cards for a networking event.
A good way to improve a card like that is to include a QR code on the rear (be sure to use both sides of any card you create!) directing people to a page on your website with all your contact info, a portfolio of your work or an ‘about you’ page. Ideally, I like to suggest something other than the website homepage as that is probably on the front of the card. Think outside the box and maybe send them to a video or podcast introducing yourself and your business. Being creative will leave them with the best impression.
The Kaywa and GoQR.me QR code generators are free, require no software or download and are really easy t use. The Avery templates can be downloaded free online and the cardstock is available at Staples and other office supply stores.