Card Sample Packs now available – oh yeah!

Membership cards samplesNow you’d think that all printed plastic cards are the same, wouldn’t you?

Well they’re not.

The quality of print and materials can vary from supplier to supplier. And then there’s the vast array of finishes and features available, from spot UV varnish to foiling and metallic stripes. These can turn a good card project into a stunning card project – if you know what to ask for.

Try before you buy

We don’t expect you to take our word for it when we say we create great quality plastic cards.Loyalty cards samples

So if you’re thinking about ordering some plastic cards, we’ll happily send you out some samples of what to expect. You’ll get to physically hold and see the difference between matt and gloss finish; and to see for yourself the difference a bit of foiling or varnish can make.

Because a photograph just can’t convey that ‘ooh’, in the same way that a tactile print finish can.

We have samples of everything from Membership Cards to Loyalty Cards, Cloakroom Tags, Hotel Key Cards, 2-part snap-off cards, Key Tags and car park passes. And if you’re interested in a particular feature, like barcode, metallic stripe or QR code, or in a special finish, we can send examples of those too.

Cloakroom Tags samplesSimply email us at sales@thecardnetwork.co.uk or give us a call on 01244 526009 to give us an idea about your card project, and we’ll get our card samples on their merry way to you.

Oh, and one other thing. We manufacture all our printed plastic cards right here in the North West – we never outsource overseas. It’s the only way we can stay in control of the quality process.

 

 

The cost-effective way to order your golf bag tags

Custom golf bag tags

It’s nearing membership renewal time again. With budgets increasingly tight, Golf clubs all over the Country are looking for ways to increase sign-ups and maximise cost efficiencies.

One area where savings can be found is in your custom golf bag tags printing and membership card printing.

Don’t pay over the odds for your new golf bag tags

Rubber, leather and hard plastic golf bag tags are expensive. As well as the inflated unit price, you have to pay set-up fees and year stickers to go on them. And when a member doesn’t renew, you lose the potential costs savings you might have recouped by just handing out a new sticker.

Our full colour plastic golf bag tags start from £215+ VAT for 250, including straps

Our custom golf bag tags are made from quality, durable plastic, and are very slightly thinner than a standard credit card for flexibility. All our quoted prices are for full colour on both sides – you don’t pay per colour.

Custom golf bag tag large
Sponsorship can pay for the entire print run of your golf club bag tags

Many golf clubs use the reverse side for a sponsor’s message or branding, which often pays for the cost of the printing.

We share some more ideas on how to cover the costs of your membership card printing here.

Clearly label all of your members, so you can see immediately what membership they have

Having different tags for each membership is ideal in terms of visibility, particularly for Week-Day, IMP and Full members, but doing so is often cost prohibitive as it requires a new run of tags.

With our golf bag tags, you can have any number of designs in the same run for an extra £25.00 per design.

So if you ordered 500 cards for £320 for example, but wanted three different designs in total, you would only pay an extra £50.

You can also personalise them with members’ names or barcodes for just 5p per card.

Maximise the reverse of your bag tags

Many clubs don’t maximise the potential of the back of the cards, even though it doesn’t cost any extra to do so. If you don’t want to include a sponsor’s message, how about reminders about etiquette, or club rules?

Or you could include the new handicap conversion calculator as a handy ready reckoner.

Our Golf Bag Tags come in two sizes: standard credit-card size and oversize, at 75mm x 105mm. They are durable, wipe clean and keep their good looks over time.

Printing branded plastic cards? Make the back count

Rocksalt cloakroom tag

Whether you’re getting some membership cards, cloakroom tags, loyalty cards or key tags printed, don’t miss out on the branding opportunity presented on the back.

Most plastic card companies will print on the reverse of the card within the same quoted price, or for a bit extra.

So when you’re thinking about your design, here are a few ways to really make the back count.

Cloakroom Tags – branding, a disclaimer and even sponsorship Benares restaurant cloakroom cloakie tag

The back of your Cloakroom Tags is the perfect place for your disclaimer and Ts and Cs, but also for a message in your brand’s distinctive tone of voice, like Rocksalt’s “If you’ve got this ticket, we’ve still got your stuff.”

Atul Kochhar’s Benares Restaurant uses the back as a sponsorship opportunity – with Cobra taking pride of place. Perfect partnership.

Membership Cards – Fixture lists, sponsorship and member benefits

Rugby membership cardThere’s loads of ways to maximise the opportunity presented by the back of your membership cards. We have a number of clubs that print their fixtures on the reverse and others that promote other club facilities.

It’s also prime advertising space. Offer it up to the right sponsor, and you can Printed membership cardeasily cover the cost of the cards, and enhance your own brand image at the same time.  Think about relevant local partners or national brands that would be interested in the profile of your membership, or even brands that you sell internally that may want extra promotion (for example food or drink providers).

You can also use the back to remind members of the benefits or discounts available to them.

Hotel key card
Or just give a simple instruction!

Hotel key cards

There’s loads you can do here. Promote other services available in the hotel like your spa or restaurant, raise awareness of a special offer or give a discount on a repeat booking.

Carden park hotel key card
Include checkout times, useful numbers and other guest information

You could also use it to remind guests of useful numbers or opening/checkout or breakfast times, like Carden Park in Cheshire does for example.

Loyalty cards

Discounts, offers and text relating to the loyalty scheme are all ideally placed on the back so you don’t have to mess up the branding and design on the front. Put your social media buttons on there too.Printed loyalty cards

Or you could include a guest message encouraging card holders to call to book or pre-order for example, like Kemps Bistro in Liverpool have done here.

Bar tab cards

We’ve all got home after a night out to discover a bar tab card in our pocket. Which can mean only one thing – your bank card isn’t. A message on the back of the bar tab card is reassuring, and can be as fun as you like.

Basically, the back of a plastic card is up for grabs, and if you’re going to the expense of getting cards printed, it’s worth maximising the potential of both sides. You could of course include a QR code, signature strips or include blank panels that you can write members’ details or expiry dates on for example.

Why plastic key tags are our unsung heroes

Branded key tagsMeet our superhero, ‘Mr Adaptable’

They’re dinky. Handy. Always visible. Incredibly adaptable. And very cost-effective.

In our view, plastic key tags are mini super heroes, just minus the capes.

Branded key tags are one of the few plastic cards that can be used for multiple purposes: promotion, loyalty, labelling, information, discount offers, reference: the list goes on.

They’re also highly visible, rather than being hidden in a wallet. They happily dangle off a key ring, reminding the owner of their presence.

And at just £110 + VAT for 250 branded key tags printed in full colour on both sides, they super cost-effective.

Packing a mighty powerful punch for one so small

Branded key tags make great:

  1. Mini loyalty cardsBranded key tag

Add a barcode that works with your loyalty system and make sure your customer never loses out at the point of purchase. Tesco seem to have made it work quite successfully.

  1. Mini membership cards

Forgotten your main membership card? Just show your key tag instead, or save the budget and do away with main membership cards altogether.

  1. Promotional cards

    De Vere membership key tag
    Print key tags to go with your membership cards, or just do away with the cards altogether

Think of your key tags as mini billboards, there to advertise your next promotion or brand message. Use them to advertise your happy hours or special weekly theme nights, or remind customers of a regular monthly event. Or just use it as a branding opportunity.

  1. Discount cards

Remind customers that they can get a discount off their next purchase, on presentation of the key tag.

  1. Staff reference cards

Get key employee information on show, not hidden away in a handbook. Key tags make great reference cards because they’re always visible. Use them to remind staff of key health and safety information, employee standards or processes and procedures.

  1. Helpline reminders

Plastic key tags are easy ‘go to’ reference points for important numbers. If given to key holders for example, you could include telephone details of the alarm company. Or for lone workers, telephone numbers of head office support.

  1. Accommodation Key Holders

    Branded key tags holiday parks
    Leaving blank areas on the design gives you the flexibility to add your own names, numbers or details

We get a lot of orders from accommodation providers, particularly caravan parks and holiday lodge parks, because they’re a great way to add a brand or promo message to sets of keys that are given out to guests. Or leave a blank space to add individual accommodation numbers.

8. Key labels

If you store sets of keys in your office, like estate agents or property maintenance companies do, why not label them with your own branded key tags? They’ll convey a more professional image to your customers, and you can leave a space blank for handwriting your own details on.

One other thing – The Card Network offers free design and artwork on branded key tags.

 

How to get your membership cards printed for free

Want someone else to pay for your membership cards printing this year?

The fact is, if you’re a club, organisation or attraction, a professionally printed membership card is expected by your members, and it’s a necessity for you too.

But it’s more than that: a branded and personalised card gives a feeling of belonging, and a sense of being part of something special.

However the cost of membership card printing can be prohibitive.

So here’s how to get someone else to pay for it.

event_pass_big_1

Use the back of your membership cards as a sponsorship opportunity

Most plastic membership cards are printed double sided, in full colour, so the reverse is a prime advertising space. Offer it up to the right sponsor, and you can easily cover the costs of the cards – and enhance your own brand image at the same time.

Here are a few routes to consider:

  1. Linked local suppliers
    If you’re a tennis club, and there’s a sports shop in town that sells the right kit, they’re the ideal partner. They’ll be advertising their wares to a captive audience that will be exposed to their brand on a regular basis, for less than the price of a newspaper ad.
2. Linked online suppliers
If there’s an online supplier that a lot of your members go to for equipment or gear, or specialist insurance, get in touch. You’re unlikely to be successful with the Amazon’s of this world, but it might be right up a smaller online retailer’s street (for example a specialist cycling insurance provider).

 

3. Linked big brands
Don’t think that you can’t approach the big brands, even if you only have a few hundred members. For example, if you’re a golf club, approaching brands like TaylorMade or FootJoy could deliver dividends. A few hundred pounds is nothing out of their marketing budget, and your membership demographic might be exactly what they’re looking to target.

members cafe
Look for local establishments, or within your own

4. Complimentary local services or suppliers
Your membership demographic should determine who you approach for sponsorship in your local area. What type of people are they? What stage of life are they at? Whose ideal customer are they likely to be? If your membership is predominately 20/30 somethings with time on their hands, then think about local bars or nightclubs. If they’re older professionals with disposable incomes, a prestige car showroom might be more relevant.

5. Look internally for brands that may want extra promotion
If you have a bar, restaurant or café on site, look at the brands you’re selling. Breweries are a good starting place: they may have a particular drink that they want to sell more of over the following year. Or if you’re a gym selling a particular range of energy bars or drinks, think about approaching them. This route has benefits for you too in terms of increased sales.

Whoa there Nelly! A word of caution before you start

Before you pick up the phone and start ringing round, make sure you don’t damage your own brand by choosing the wrong sponsor. If you’ve spent years building up an exclusive membership of professionals, don’t blow it by advertising Carl’s Cheeky Chicken on the back of your plastic membership cards.

Associating yourself with a well-known brand, or an aspirational brand, will do wonders for your own organisation. It’s a great message to existing members that they’ve made the right choice, and it’s even stronger in terms of attraction. Because if a famous brand has chosen to be affiliated with your club, why wouldn’t they?

 

Why you should start the membership renewal process early

Renewe membershipContrary to what you might think, the two most common reasons people don’t renew their club membership isn’t because they’re unhappy or have found a better offer elsewhere. They are:

  1. They think they’re still a member, or
  2. They simply ‘forget’.

Which is precisely why you should start ‘reminding’ them to renew well before their club membership is due.

If you’re still sending them a club newsletter, or club communications, chances are they think they’re still a member, and it won’t occur to them to check.

And even if you have sent an electronic reminder, there’s a high possibility that it will get lost in a crowded inbox.

So make sure you set up a renewal touchpoint schedule

Don’t be embarrassed to ask more than once, and don’t rely on email for all of the touchpoints (think of that crowded inbox again). Be prepared that it might take a number of attempts to get the result you’re looking for.

A good schedule to follow is:

First touchpoint – 2 months before club membership expires

Send them an email or letter reminding them that their membership is coming up for renewal soon. Remind them of all the great member benefits they receive, and how much their membership is valued. Consider offering an incentive if they renew before a certain date – either a discount off their membership fees, money off in your café or vouchers.

Second touchpoint – a month before club membership expires

Send them a reminder of the date their membership comes to an end. If you haven’t offered an incentive before, now’s the time. If you have a members-only events, key matches or other areas of interest coming up in the new membership season, be sure to let them know about it.

Third touchpoint – as the membership is due to expire

Make a personal phone call to thank the member for their club membership, and ask if they’re happy to renew again this year. If not, why not? This can give you valuable insights into any issues that need addressing, and that might be affecting other members. If you see them in person at the club, even better.

If they still don’t renew, make sure you include them in your promotional campaigns.

Just because they haven’t renewed this year doesn’t mean they won’t again. Stay in touch, but don’t bombard them with information or sales messages. Make sure you keep them up-to-date with any improvements or changes happening at the club, and after 6-12 months, try them with an incentive again.

How to improve your membership sign-up

Clubs and organisations are always looking for ways to increase their membership. We’ll share a few ideas for boosting membership numbers in this post.

But before we do, we recommend you start at home first – with your existing members.

Opinion countsBegin by asking your current members what they think

What’s the best thing about your club? What could be better? We often hear Organisers say ‘our members don’t like that’, or ‘our members prefer this’, but have you ever actually asked them?

It’s easy to think that one person’s view is representative of the entire membership, when often it isn’t.

So start with a member survey and ask for your member’s opinions and ideas. As well as being a good way of retaining your existing members by making them feel important, it will flag up any problem areas and tell you which benefits are seen as most valuable (and therefore which you should prioritise in promotion).

If you make changes in light of the feedback, be sure to pass this back to the existing members. This is a positive message that you’re a responsive club that cares about your members’ opinions, and they’re much more likely to recommend you to friends as a result.

Use your current members as referrers

Your existing members are your best promotional tools – as long as they’re feeling happy and valued (see point one above).

Word-of-mouth is more valuable than anything, but you have to give them a reason to spread it.

So provide them with opportunities to talk you up.

If you haven’t set up a ‘Refer-a-Friend’ scheme, do so now. Think about what benefit or incentive would mean the most to both the referrer and the referee.

Is offering a discount off their first year of membership fees the strongest message? What benefit will you give the existing member? Ask them for their opinion in the member survey – this will tell you what they would respond best to.

Set up opportunities to personally interact with potential new members

The worst thing you can do is set up a refer-a-friend scheme and expect your existing members to proactively put it into practice. Don’t rely on email either – you need physical touch points.

Taster Days or Community Events are a good way to get new people through the door. Ask each of your members to invite along a friend, lay on some refreshments and set up some entertainment or activity that’s relevant to your club or organisation.

This doesn’t need to be about slick marketing, it’s about getting people to experience your friendly atmosphere for themselves. Your existing members will do the promotion naturally for you.

Do make sure you have a discount offer available at the time. You need to have an incentive on offer to encourage people to join THAT DAY, like a discount on their membership fees, or 14 months for the price of 12.

Another way to get people through the door is to:

Print extra promotional cards with your membership card run

The more cards you print, the cheaper the cost per card is.

So when you send your run of membership cards to print, ask about running-on some generic branded cards at the same time. This is a really cost effective marketing tool. You can use these in various ways:

  • Give one to each existing member with their new membership card to pass on to a friend or family member
  • Advertise a refer-a-friend incentive – e.g. 30% off membership fees for new joiners when you present this card
  • Print a discount card for members to pass on that offers a discount off a meal in your restaurant, or a free session at your club, e.g. a free round of golf, or afternoon using the spa facilities.

You could also use the extra cards to:

Promote an offer locally to your target audience

This relies on you having a strong understanding of where your target audience ‘live’. You could run a series of promotional cards offering a discount in your restaurant or bar for example, and post it out to local postcodes, or to a relevant database.

This will only work though if you know your demographic, and if the potential rewards are worth the cost. For example doing a mass mail out to local households with details of your tennis club will have high wastage, as only a small percentage of them will actually play tennis.

If you’re able to isolate a group of highly desirable potential members, then consider:

  • Pre-loading branded gift cards and posting those out. A card with ‘actual’ money on (say £5 for spending in the bar) is hard to ignore or throw away.
  • Set up an incentive programme with other local businesses
    Partnering with local businesses is a great way to provide your members with valuable benefits, and to encourage participation from different groups. For example, you could come to a deal with a neighbouring hotel or attraction, and make it reciprocal. They offer your members a discount when they visit; you do the same in return.
  • Market your club where your members are likely to be
    Seems a bit obvious this one, but there are still a lot of clubs that expect potential members to come to them. You need to do some research into who your ideal member is, and what their lifestyle is likely to be. By which we mean: what do they read, what social media groups do they follow, what are their interests? How can you reach them?

Go where your members are and you will be able to find new members/leads to mine.

Magstripes to microns: Just what do they mean anyway?

 

Know your onions when it comes to plastic cards

Plastic card terminology
Plastic card terminology explained

There’s a fair bit of jargon when it comes to printed plastic cards. Here’s how to know your LoCo from your HiCo (and whether you need them at all).

Microns
You’ll notice that plastic cards are measured in microns rather than mm’s. This refers to the thickness of the card. A standard bank cards is 760 microns. Some discount cards or appointment cards can be thinner, often 680 or 420 microns.

Always check the microns so you know what you’re getting. The higher the microns, the thicker and better quality the card will be.

Magnetic stripe (often referred to as mag stripe)
Whether or not you need plastic cards with magnetic stripes depends on what you want them to do, and whether you have the system that works with them.

For example, if you have the technology that allows members to ‘swipe’ through a turnstile, access lockers or buy their lunch, you’ll need a magnetic stripe on the back of the card.

Mag stripes come encoded or unencoded. If you want them to be supplied already encoded (i.e. programmed to work with your system), you’ll need to provide the relevant information to the card supplier. Or they can be sent unencoded, for you to ‘match up’ at your end. Consult the user manual that came with your system for more information.

HiCo or LoCo?
Next you’ll need to decide if you need a HiCo or LoCo mag stripe. HiCo are typically black, whereas LoCo are usually brown.

HiCo magstripes are more secure and stable. They are commonly used in situations where cards are frequently swiped and the need for security is higher  (for example in accessing a building).

LoCo magstripes are fine in situations where security is less important and the need for the card to hold information is temporary; for example gift cards or hotel key cards.

Mifare cards/smart cards
Smart cards or Mifare cards are capable of many functions, thanks the chip contained within them. They are commonly used for access control, transport, ticketing, smart wallets etc. The Oyster Card is a well-known example of a smart card – capable of being ‘loaded’ with money and scanned by readers.

Smart cards can be printed on and branded in the same way that regular cards can. They’re more expensive than a regular plastic card, because they’re capable of so much more.

Other features to personalise cards
You can also choose to include a range of features on your printed plastic cards, for example signature panels, bar codes or QR codes. These usually cost extra, so consider whether you actually need them before ordering.

One other thing – check what the card is made of

Don’t just assume that the plastic cards are 100% plastic. Some printed plastic cards have a cardboard inner core, particularly if sourced from the Far East, which results in a much lower quality card.  It impacts on colour definition and vibrancy – you’ll often see a border around the card where the cardboard ends, and they aren’t as durable.

If you need any help on ordering printed plastic cards, our friendly team are happy to answer any questions.

Are you using the right printer ribbon for your membership cards?

 

cut costs on membership cards
Choosing the right ribbon can cut costs & improve results

How to save money on printing and get the best results

Whether you print all your membership cards on your own card printer, or just do ‘top-ups’ throughout the year, it pays to use the right ribbon.

Not only will it give you the best results and save you money, the right ribbon will maximise the productivity of your plastic card printer.

So which one?

The range of different printer ribbons out there can be a bit bewildering. YMCK, YMCKO or YMCKOK? (More details on ribbon types here http://blog.thecardnetwork.co.uk/2014/07/save-money-use-the-right-ribbon-for-your-plastic-card-printer/)

Printing cards yourself on a double-sided card printer

If you’re printing double sided membership cards yourself, on a double-sided printer, the most common mistake is using a YMCKO ribbon, rather than a YMCKOK one.

A YMCKOK ribbon basically has a second black panel, and is designed specifically for use with double sided card printers. It allows you to print full colour on the front of the card and black on the reverse – making it ideal for clubs who print graphics on the front, but only sparse details on the back.

If you were to use a YMCKO ribbon instead, you would have to use all 5 panels on the front, then all 5 panels on the back. The result? You use up the ribbon twice as fast.

Just overprinting members’ details?

If you are just overprinting details like name and membership number onto pre-printed membership cards, you don’t need an all singing, all dancing ribbon. A single-colour ribbon could do the job just fine. You can get ribbons in a choice of colours, including silver and gold, and the cost is considerably cheaper per print than using an YMCKO ribbon.

Remember that ribbons have a shelf-life of around a year

Also think about the quantity of membership cards you need to produce and don’t overbuy on printer capacity. Each ribbon is capable of printing a certain number of cards, so if you only need a handful on an irregular basis, don’t shell out on a 1000 capacity ribbon when 200 would do. Especially as ribbons have a shelf-life – generally of about a year.

The larger the print ribbon the less the cost per card, so if you’re printing larger numbers, invest in a higher image one. This will also save on re-ordering costs such as delivery.

Still not sure which ribbon is right for your plastic card printer?

Give one of our friendly team a call – we’re happy to help guide you.

More information on the different types of ribbons available is available here http://blog.thecardnetwork.co.uk/2014/07/save-money-use-the-right-ribbon-for-your-plastic-card-printer/

Why overprinting is a good idea for membership cards schemes

Loyalty cards members cards
Print more membership cards than you need upfront for future joiners

Cut down on reordering costs for membership cards throughout the year

How do you manage the production of cards for new members that join after the initial deadline has passed?

If you have a plastic card printer, you’ll just print out new membership cards when you need them. Taking out the cost of the actual printer itself (which can cost upwards of £1,000 for a decent one), this is a fairly cost-effective and easy way of managing new joiners throughout the year.

But what if you don’t have a plastic card printer?

Ask your card printing bureau about overprinting

If you have your membership cards professionally printed by a card bureau, ask them if they offer an overprinting option.

This service allows you to print more membership cards than you need for your initial run, which are then kept ‘in reserve’ until you need them. These reserve membership cards are fully branded, and follow consequential numbering, so they don’t look any different from the initial run. They’re just not personalised.

You can then ‘call off’ the cards throughout the year, a handful at a time. Simply send the required data (names, etc) and the cards will be overprinted accordingly.

Most card bureaus will charge a small admin and posting fee for this service, but you won’t be paying a new set-up fee or printing fee for a new run of cards.

This route cuts down on reordering costs throughout the year, and can negate the need to invest in a plastic card printer at all.

The Card Network offers an overprinting option on all our membership card packages. Please contact us for more information.