What is a Rack Card?

Rack CardA rack card is a physical piece of marketing material, not unlike a flyer, that is usually 4 by 9 inches. It may be laid out vertically or horizontally. It’s often used in in areas that receive a high amount of foot traffic like hotels, restaurants, conveniences stores, etc.

Rack cards may be pre-designed and ready for you to simply populate with the particulars of your business, or they may be custom made. They often leverage smart placement, flashy graphics, and concise copy to grab the attention of prospects.

When should I use a rack card?

Rack cards are most effective when they’re advertising an offer that lends itself to good visuals and the card is exposed to the right kind of heavy foot traffic.

For example, let’s say you run a business in San Francisco that takes people via boat to Alcatraz (a popular tourist destination.) This is a great opportunity to use a rack card for a few reasons:

  1. There is a huge amount of tourist foot traffic in San Francisco in the right areas.
  2. Alcatraz is a popular tourist destination.
    Your rack card offering a cruise to Alcatraz can leverage beautiful pictures of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz itself. Something is sure to catch your perfect prospect’s eye.
  3. But don’t limit yourself by thinking rack cards only work for the tourism industry. Many successful marketers place their rack cards in convenience stores, at rest stops, and near landmarks. Healthcare facilities may keep them in registration and waiting areas to educate patients about health conditions, medical procedures, and ways to keep their loved ones healthy. Any place that receives a significant amount of foot traffic is a good place to leverage the marketing power of a rack card.

Should I use a custom design or a template?

In short, it depends. Pre-designed templates are usually more economical and you can get the job done quicker.

Choosing to go with a custom design might mean that you’ll need to spend more time and resources to perfect it. That said, you’ll end up with a rack card that is truly unique to your preferences. And while it might take an investment of time upfront, once you’ve settled on a custom design, you might be able to leverage it as a template moving forward.

What’s the best rack card marketing strategy?

While it is possible to find the perfect strategy, it may take some time because every audience is a little different. You can start by following the best practices outlined on this page, but ultimately, the best strategy for rack cards is found through testing. And it’s important to have the tool in place to analyze your testing. For example, if you’re measuring the success of your piece by how many people call you or visit your website, consider using a tracking number or PURLs on your piece.

Don’t be afraid to try new things if your rack cards aren’t as successful as you’d like them to be. Perhaps you want to include a coupon or promotion inside your rack card and prospects only receive the benefits of that promotion by presenting your rack card.

Think carefully about the people you’re targeting and the service or product you’re selling. A huge amount of foot traffic isn’t enough by itself. If you’re selling legal services, you won’t see much success by placing your rack card near tourist attractions, even if there’s a lot of foot traffic.

How do you design an effective rack card?

For a rack card to be effective, it has to accomplish two objectives:

  1. Grab your prospects’ attention.
    Compel you prospects to take action.
  2. If you display your rack card in a public location, it may be competing with others for the attention of consumers (meaning you have a precious few seconds to communicate information). Grabbing your prospects’ attention requires stunning visuals. Find the most eye-catching images you can, but ensure that the images are relevant.

If the imagery you choose catches your prospect’s eye but doesn’t carry through with a relevant offer, you’ve essentially broken the promise you made. And that’s not going to make your prospects want to take action.

That brings us to objective number two: compel prospects to take action.

The less your prospect has to think, the better. That’s why it’s important to use concise language, and more importantly, tell your prospect what to do next.

Are you a real estate agent? Include your contact information and ask the reader to contact you. Are you a service provider including a promotional coupon in your rack card? Tell the reader what he or she has to do to redeem their offer. Never leave it up to them to figure out what you want them to do. They’ll quickly move on to the next rack card.

When all is said and done, rack cards are a great way to advertise. You know that every person who picks up your card has at least some interest in your offer. That means less of your marketing materials go to waste, making your efforts more cost-effective. So, while it might take some experimentation to get your rack card strategy dialed in, it’ll be well worth the effort.

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