Free Cards Tout Skype, VistaPrint

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Online telephone provider Skype has partnered with print house VistaPrint Ltd., offering complimentary business cards to members in an effort to promote each brand.

The promotion may be no small effort, as Skype has 40 million members.

"Skype is a major communication tool for smaller businesses," said Anders Hallin, business product manager at Skype, Luxembourg. "It seems natural for you to have your Skype name on your business card, along with your e-mail address and your phone number."

The promotion is advertised on www.skype.com, where interested users can sign up for free business cards at www.vistaprint.com/skype. The cards are customizable, with dozens of free design templates to choose from. The cards are printed on high-quality paper and include a space for Skype information. After choosing color and style, the customer is sent 250 cards in as little as three business days.

For VistaPrint, the promotion exposes its service to Skype's giant database of customers to try to gain sales leads. While on the print firm's Web site, Skype customers may purchase brochures, postcards, rubber stamps and other VistaPrint products at a discount.

As for the cost of giving away up to 40 million cards, VistaPrint buys in bulk, so the more it produces, the less it pays per card. And compared with production costs, the cost of gaining a customer is what VistaPrint values.

"We would be ecstatic if even 7 million users signed up," said Mike Ewing, vice president of North American acquisition marketing at VistaPrint, Hamilton, Bermuda. "The cost of acquiring a customer is a lot less than printing these business cards." n

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