A review of some business cards that I collected at a recent networking event has got me thinking. Some are pretty to look at, some are very creative, but many fail to take advantage of what they could do for the owner. There is such potential here! Networkers refer to them as “your silent sales force”, they are your best sales tool. Check out these ideas for business cards.
There was a time when people carried a “calling card” so they could leave messages wherever they went – in shops, at household doors (picture the butler needing to communicate who is calling to the Lord of the Manor in Downton Abby) Modern times and technology make them unnecessary for that Victorian purpose. But they still have their uses today; people who want to connect find them very handy. Today, the calling card has morphed into a marketing piece for business.
Who uses them? – business people, government people, agency (volunteer)people, and job seekers.
If we agree that the purpose of business cards is to facilitate communication; then we need to consider carefully what they should say and how we make use of them. Your business card can leave a lasting impression after you have left the scene and that makes it a very useful form of advertising (and one of the cheapest in fact) It conveys what you want people to remember. Your card not only tells what you do and how to reach you; it also creates an emotional response to your brand. It should communicate your professionalism both by what it says and by how it looks. And the visuals should be compatible with all your forms of communication.
All business cards must contain the following:
(Remember this is not about what is convenient for you, but rather what makes it easy for your potential client, employer or colleague.)
- Your name
- Your title or function
- Your business name
- Your speciality or tag line
- Your telephone number
- Mailing address
- e-Mail address
- Web site url
Optional information includes:
(These will depend on the business or aim of the card)
- QR Code that allows smartphones to find your website with a single click;
- A shortlist of benefits gained by using your service or product;
- A list of skills that you want to market;
- Social Networking links;
- Your picture (head & shoulders) if recognizing you is important.
Take out Your Card – Check for these Serious Mistakes :
- Omitting your own name and assuming that the business name is sufficient. People like to do business on a personal level.
- Using a very small font, making it very difficult to read. Do people need to dig out their reading glasses to get the information?
- Using a plastic or shiny finish that doesn’t allow for notes to be added. At networking events, people like to make note of the date, where you met, any promises they made, and follow up ideas on the back of your card. Here’s how I keep track of my promises:
- Using black or very dark colours that also don’t allow for writing. Do make good use of colour to generate that positive emotional response.
- Leaving off any of the critical contact information listed above.
- Using fonts and designs that make scanning impossible. Many people make great use of technology so they can record and keep track of your information. Make it easy for them.
- Using a business name and logo that gives no indication of what your business is about.
- Using the homemade look by printing them off on your own computer/printer with the label system. Use a graphic designer and have them professionally printed. If cost is an issue, there are lots of companies online who print them for a very reasonable price. eg. Vistaprint.com
- Handing out cards that have pen-corrected contact information. This gives the message that you are struggling financially! – Not a good profile for your business.
Making the best use of business cards
- Never be without them – Have them accessible where ever you are;
- Offer one whenever anyone wants to know who you are or what you do;
- Include them in all paper communication, including bill payments, birthday cards, etc;
- Leave them with merchants where you do business so they can call you back;
- Place them on bulletin boards where your target clients hang out;
- Leave them on marketing tables at networking events;
- Offer one when you ask for a referral or job information;
- Use them as an introductory piece when you visit professionals;
- When you receive one from another person, be sure to follow up in some way.
I welcome your reaction/response to the importance of business cards in your business.