One of the most cost-effective forms of marketing today is the business card. It is an inexpensive, easy to use, and usually welcome advertising medium. Business cards can come in many shapes, sizes and colours. They can be horizontal standard format and vertical (theory being they will stand out from mostly horizontal), or have an extra cover flap. Traditional cards are 2 colour, some embossed, and a few 4 colour. Some people include photos of themselves or their products on the card. Many professionals whose business is based on repeat appointments, like dentists, design the back for writing in your next appointment.
Unlike “junk mail” most people want your business card. But remember, handing out a poorly designed, crumpled card with food on it can leave the wrong impression. Keep your cards crisp and clean in a protective container and proudly take it out and present it to the recipient. Allow them time to read it and absorb the information. Give them time; you don’t want to rush things. This may be the first exposure they have had to you and your company information.
Your card can speak volumes about you and how you conduct your business. The first thing prospects or potential business associates will notice is whether in fact you actually have a card and remembered to bring them along. I get a little suspicious when I go to a networking function and find the person I am talking to have neglected to bring their cards with them. I wonder how much thought they put into attending the function, or how interested they are in increasing their business.
You should make it a habit to have your cards with you at all times. Don’t hesitate to give them out to people you meet socially or in business settings. Consider giving out a few at a time. You never know whom they might pass the card along to.
Unfortunately many small business owners spend either too little or too much time designing their card. I have met many startup small business owners who spent 6 months obsessing over the design of their card and less effort developing their business concept. The first question to ask yourself is what do I want my card to say about my business? Am I projecting the right image? If my business is discount goods at great savings, do I want a fancy expensive looking card? Conversely, if my service is high end and expensive my card should project taste and quality.
Does your card identify your company name clearly, your name and title, address, telephone & fax number, email and web site? Make it easy for someone to get in touch with you if they decide they wish to know more about you or to use your services. If you are using social media (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) to promote your business, remember to add this information also.
Have you considered utilizing the back of the card to list the products or services you offer? My card has my company mission statement on the back. It says clearly what I am offering and whom I am offering it to. Your card will be referred to by the recipient as well as anyone else they pass it along to. Remember that your card is representing you and your company unaccompanied by you. It must communicate who you are, what you do and make it easy for the reader to get in touch with you if they want to know more or they require your services.
Recently the question came up, how do you file a business card? Consider the two very different formats of vertical and horizontal. The answer is, don’t worry about physical orientation. You should file them in a contact management software system. Don’t forget to keep the original card, but utilize technology to make use of the information they contain. You will always have easy access to the contact and be able to manipulate the information to suit your needs. Christmas cards can be a struggle or a few minutes work. Running through your business contacts by computer and developing your Christmas card list and then printing mailing labels is a simpler process than searching for and organizing business cards and hand writing addresses.
A final thought: if appropriate turn your card into a special offer vehicle. Sometimes the difference between holding on to your card and discarding it is the implied value it represents. To entice the first sale, trial of your product or service consider offering a discount or other special offer with your card. Bring in this card and get 2 for 1 is a simple example.
Take out your current business card and lay it out on your desk. Now surround it with the many cards you have collected over the past few months. Ask yourself, how does your card stand up compared to the others and does it satisfy the requirements outlined above. Is this the best possible representation of you and your company?
And that’s According 2 Eric