CD business cards have been around since the late 1990’s, but have just recently become popular with many businesses as marketing and promotional tools. They are becoming more common at trades hows, with sales and marketing teams, and some universities are using them to promote their course catalogs and curriculum.
CD business cards are small optical discs that come in two distinct shapes. The most common is the hockey-rink shape which is the same diameter as a mini-disc (80mm), with curved sides, and cut straight on the top and bottom to make them approximately the same size as a paper business card. The curved sides fit into the center mini-disc indent in a standard computer CD tray. The second shape is the rectangular disc, which has straight edges all around, is about the same size as the hockey-rink discs, and has an 80mm curved extrusion on the bottom that fits into the mini-disc indent in a computer CD tray.
Both discs will work in any CD drive that has a tray that ejects, but are not for use in the slot-drive CD and DVD drives that are found in some Apple computers. The Apple slot-drives will only work with full-size CDs and can be damaged from mini-discs or CD business cards. This limitation may have been partly responsible for keeping the CD business card from becoming popular early on. However, since the majority of businesses use either desktop or laptop PCs, and almost all PCs have CD/DVD drives that have trays with either a center spindle (laptop) or a mini-disc indent (desktop), the CD business card is now becoming a very popular promotional tool with marketing directors in the business sector.
Advantages over other marketing tools
So what are the advantages of CD business cards over traditional marketing tools such as paper business cards, brochures, flyers, catalogs, standard CDs, and DVDs? First let’s group all optical discs together and compare them to printed paper products such as brochures and catalogs.
Brochures and catalogs are good marketing tools because they are immediate. You can quickly get information about a company’s products and services by browsing the printed material. The problem is that they are so common, especially because of junk mail, that they are generally thrown away, lost, or just ignored entirely. Anyone that has attended even one trade show knows how quickly you can accumulate a bag of printed promotional materials from vendors, and that most of those brochures and catalogs get tossed with little more than a quick visual browsing. The one exception might be paper business cards, which are small and easy to store. However the paper business card is extremely limited in the amount of data and information that it can hold and convey.
CD business cards, CDs, and DVDs, are generally treated as something special compared with printed brochures and catalogs, and often survive the initial dumping of excess promotional materials from trade shows or mail campaigns. The discs can contain any type of multimedia content such as video, automated slide presentations, voice narration, music, product and service catalogs, and links to web pages and e-mail. The ability to hand someone a disc that has the combination of a video promotion or TV ad, and the functionality of a website, is far and above anything that can be conveyed with printed paper materials.
Another advantage of using optical discs for promotional campaigns is that they cost less to manufacture than high-end brochures and catalogs, and the postage is also less than it is for printed catalogs and magazines, if you are mailing them out.
The advantage of CD business cards over standard CDs and DVDs is twofold. The CD business card is still a novelty of sorts, and therefore attracts more attention and interest, while being small in size compared to standard CDs and DVDs. The novelty factor means they have a better chance of surviving the trashcan if they are received at trade shows or from mail campaigns. The smaller size makes them easy to carry, hand out, and store. You can’t fit a dozen full-size CDs or DVDs into your shirt or jacket pocket, so they often get relegated to that large bag of brochures and catalogs at trade shows. CD business cards are about the same size as paper business cards, so you can put a dozen of them in your shirt or jacket pocket and easily keep them on your person if you receive them at trade shows, or if you are handing them out as marketing tools for your business.
The cost to manufacture CD business cards is about the same as the larger CDs and DVDs, so there isn’t really any disadvantage to using them other than data capacity. The average CD business card will hold 50 MB of data, and there is a slightly larger version available from some companies that will hold 85 MB. If your data files are larger than 85 MB, or you want to use a video that will play in a set top DVD player, you will probably need to use a standard CD or DVD to distribute your message. However, by using Adobe’s Flash video format (FLV), CD business cards can hold up to 12 minutes of video depending on pixel size and compression settings. The FLV format has become common place on the internet by video websites like YouTube to display video content, This, along with the small file size of HTML and SWF files, make it possible to include a wealth of information and multimedia content on a standard 50 MB CD business card.
Where to get CD business cards to promote your company?
There are many companies that offer CD business card duplication and replication services, but only a few of them offer presentation creation and cross-platform disc publishing services too.
We can break down the CD business card services into four parts.
Creation of data files
Publishing master data disc – ready for duplication or replication
Artwork creation and publishing for disc label or face
Duplication or replication of discs, packaging and shipping
(1) Creation of data files
This is the broadest area and can include anything from creating a simple PDF file to a complete self-launching multimedia presentation with video, virtual tours, slideshows, images, music, voice over, product and services info, and links to web pages and e-mail.
Many companies simply create a few PDF files, or one master PDF file, and burn it onto a CD-R to send in for disc duplication. Other companies use their website HTML pages as the presentation with an autorun.inf file to open the main website page. Video files can also be used as the main presentation, and it is common to use an application file (EXE) that was created in a CD authoring program such as Adobe’s Flash or Director. These files can be started when the CD business card is inserted into the disc drive with an autorun.inf file that instructs the OS to run the main application file. The presentation that prospective customers and clients see is actually the most important part of any CD business card project, and yet it is often the area that is underfunded or not given enough attention. If you use PDF or HTML files on a CD business card, you aren’t giving anyone anything different or better than what they can get on your website, which in my opinion is missing the boat to some extent. When you give someone your CD business card, you have the opportunity to give them the equivalent of a TV or video ad, product/service catalog, company info, and links to specific website pages and e-mail. It’s important to understand that to the easier and more enjoyable you make it for the viewer of your disc to get the information that you want to give them about your business, the more likely they are to continue with the process and eventually become a client or customer. This can be as simple as adding an autorun.inf file to your disc to automatically open a PDF or HTML file so your viewer doesn’t have to manually open your file, to an entertaining and informational video ad with voice over and music. Whatever you can do to increase and improve the experience for the viewer will be well worth the cost and effort in increased customer interest and sales.
(2) Publishing master data disc
This used to be a much larger issue than it is today. Most computers have CD/DVD recordable drives, and even if a CD-R is burned on a PC, most Macintosh computers can still open the disc and play the files. The exception is if the presentation is created as and EXE application file without an equivalent Mac application file. PDF and HTML files are generally cross-platform and can be opened on any computer with a web browser. I recommend creating the master data disc as a cross-platform disc to ensure there aren’t any problems. This is easy to do on a Macintosh computer using a program called Toast.
(3) Artwork creation and publishing
Artwork for CD business card projects is usually limited to the disc face or label, so it is fairly simple compared to some CD and DVD projects. One caveat is that there isn’t a lot of real estate on the face of a CD business card, so you have similar limitations to paper business cards with the added problem of a whole in the center. There’s plenty of room for your business logo, company name, and contact information though, so it does function like a regular business card as well. Most companies that offer CD business card duplication and replication services will also provide artwork services.
(4) Duplication or replication of discs, packaging and shipping
Disc duplication is generally used for orders of less than 500 discs per label. Duplication means the discs are duplicated CD-R/DVD-Rs with printed labels using non-fade archival inks on high-quality thin photo-quality labels. The labels don’t fade, smudge, or come off. CD business cards are generally packaged in clear plastic sleeves that are open on one end to make them easy to remove. The sleeve holds the disc tight enough so that it doesn’t come out on its own.
Disc Replication is generally used for orders of 1,000 or more discs per label. Replication is the process of transferring pre-mastered data format to a glass master. The glass master is then made into a stamper, which is ultimately used in production. The Stamper is placed into a high-speed injection-molder which creates complete digitized data discs. The discs are silkscreen printed on the face of the disc. CD business cards are generally packaged in clear plastic sleeves, but other options are available including mini-jewel cases and cardboard wallets or mailers.
CD business cards are great marketing tools for sales agents and companies going to trade shows. They get more attention up front and leave a lasting impression. After all, if somone leaves a trade show or marketing meeting with a handful of business cards, and one of them is your CD business card, who do you think they are going to remember?
John Rives and DiscWrite CD Promotions have been providing high-quality graphic design and multimedia development services for websites, disc media, and print media for almost ten years in northern California.
We specialize in custom Adobe Flash development for websites and business card CDs. We also offer and customize our line of hundreds of professional presentation templates which allow businesses with budget constraints the ability to have high-end business presentations for their sales team without the expense of custom work. We have the best quality-for-cost ratio in the business.
In addition, we offer custom disc duplication and replication services with great customer service and product quality and some of the lowest prices in the industry.