Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Free" Business Cards

Oh, you've seen the little web banner ads that offer free business cards. How could anyone offer free business cards and make a profit? The answer is quite simple, they aren't actually free. Shocked? Dismayed? Maybe even a bit put-off?

Come on, you really didn't think that someone could give away a product for free and expect to stay in business, did you? Maybe you do, maybe you think you are getting one over on the printing industry and you have found a way to get something for nothing. You are an optimist.

An optimist is a person that, against better judgement, still believes that they are exempt from certain absolutes laws. Absolute business law number 1; Nothing is Free.

So how do they do it? How can a company offer to print business cards for free? The printing is "free", but the shipping will cost you. How much? Well, enough to cover the cost of getting cards printed somewhere else. Did I mention the delivery is a bit slow? The standard time to have your free business cards delivered ranges from 2-3 weeks, sometimes more. Of course, you can always upgrade. If you want them sent to you in a few days.

Did I mention that the back of the free business cards have the name of the printing company all over them? Tacky? Well, you can pay to have that removed or better yet, pay some more to put something else on the back. Not so free.

Did they mention that the free business cards are based on templates? So you have a limited choice for what goes on the front of your free business cards. You can upgrade that too. A minor fee and you can choose from many more templates that are equally bad or you can upload your own. May I suggest you use a picture of a pet, nothing says professional like a picture of a pet on a business card.

In the end, the business card is not actually free if you have to pay for things (like having someone else's web site splashed across the back) to be removed, adding fees for upgrades or charging extra for a timely delivery.

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