Put Your Best Card Forward!
12 Tips for Making Your Business Card
a Business Tool
– by Mike Hamers, Lightspeed – Edited by Kirsten Nelson, C3 Writing
Want to create an unforgettable business card? Your business card can be an important business tool, but only if it stands out in a positive way.
Business cards possess a unique potential for creating personal connections and to generate leads. An effective design should project a positive image and your business’s underlying message. There’s no better bang-for-your-buck in marketing. Printed business cards are relatively cheap to purchase, especially when compared to most other forms of marketing.
Does your business card sell you, your ideas, and your products or services?
Take a close look at your business card as if you were a prospective customer, and evaluate it with this list of 12 Tips designed to optimize the effectiveness of your card, then take the ranking test at the end. These 12 Tips will make the difference to building your business and increasing your profits.
1. Remember to bring them with you!
Being asked for a business card is a compliment. Having a quality card readily available allows you to establish your credibility as a skillful professional with prospective customers. Not having your cards with you becomes a defining moment of you as an unprepared and embarrassed bumbler.
TIP: Keep a backup stack in your car so you have easy access away from the office.
2. Present a positive professional image that sells.
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure your card presents a positive, interesting, and memorable image.
A logo visually defines what you sell at a glance. Your card should feature an attention-grabbing and professionally designed logo unique to your business. For consistency, use your company colors to visually tie your cards to other marketing materials.
Include a tagline, one where the benefits or branding message is included in your branded catch phrase. Remember – A business card without a brand promise is simply contact information.
3. Double-sided for double-duty.
White space and readability are important! Avoid including too much information on one side. A two-sided business card can be effective, provided you consider the purpose and goal of the card.
Use an attention-getting image on one side—something that highlights the product or service you are selling or visually draws attention to your card. Then consider the purpose of the second side. You might place your logo and brand message on one side, with vital contact information on the second side. In some cases, adding a smaller logo with the contact info adds to the visual quality and marketing.
In other instances, you might want to use the back of the business card as a “line card” to list the products or services you offer, or need to include logos from manufacturers whose products you carry. Another use of the double-sided card occurs in multilingual markets, with English on one side and a second language on the other.
Regardless of the purpose, keep all of your vital contact information together—your name and contact information should appear on the same side.
4. Consider note takers when choosing paper.
It is not uncommon for people to use the back of a card to write notes—especially if they have inquired about any of your products or services and want to write that information down for later reference. Depending on your profession, the back of your card can be a place to include an image, QR code, or a meaningful quote.
There is no harm in leaving your card blank, however. Consider the value of not including your mobile number on your business card. This allows the opportunity to make certain recipients feel important when you pull out a pen and jot your ‘direct line’ on the back of the card for them. This potentially effective move can work in your favor— provided you remember to carry a pen.
With non-glossy (matte) paper, this is generally not a problem. However, on glossy papers, handwriting notes may be difficult. Some ink pens have difficulty writing on a glossy surface, while others have a tendency to smear.
If you really want glossy business cards, use cardstock that is glossy on one side only. Printers refer to these as “coated one side” or CS1. (CS2 are coated two sides.) The front of your card can be glossy, providing the desired benefits of a glossy card along with your logo image. The back offers an uncoated surface, giving you the benefits of a non-glossy business card. It’s a great way to show potential prospects that you’ve considered their writing needs!
5. Clearly define your key differentiator.
Effective business cards should convey what your business does AND your unique differentiator. You want potential clients to know who you are and what you do the second they look at your business card.
Always make sure that the card gives people the essential information they need. Without it, they are unlikely to follow-up or utilize your services.
6. Be distinctive and memorable.
Don’t settle for ordinary, let other companies be ordinary. Your company is unique—it has a distinctive culture and market presence. Make your card be a reflection of your company and make it match your website and print collateral.
Avoid clip art, unoriginal or generic symbols, and images nabbed from the internet. These tend to make your image look cheap and unprofessional, and result in a trite, meaningless contact card that does nothing but waste money. More importantly, grabbing images and clip art from the internet often constitutes plagiarism and hurts your credibility.
7. Project professionalism: Avoid poor quality print & paper.
Cheap business cards cheapen your image. Make sure you have high-quality cards with crisp printing, clean-cut edges, and high-quality paper. Consider the value of your business–isn't it worth more than a desktop printed card?
If you want to impress potential customers, you need to have a business card that is impressive. Think about how your business card feels in your customers’ hands, like a firm handshake, and the image that is projected. Is your business card light and flimsy, telling prospects that your company stands on shaky ground? Or, is it solid and robust, demonstrating that your company is well grounded and prepared to handle any situation?
8. Include relevant social outposts.
Today’s businesses regard social media as a way to tell their story and engage with customers. Highlight your Facebook page, YouTube channel or Pinterest account on your card. Give curious new friends a chance to see what you’re about by directing them to social outposts on which you’re active—but only those that are truly relevant to your business.
TIP: You don’t need to list every account you have, just the important ones. Then follow this up by committing to consistent frequent social engagements with customers on those sites.
9. Link your online and offline worlds.
A business card can be a bridge between your online and in-person presence. Consider adding a QR code that digitally relays contact info or directs people to a web page.
TIP: Make it worth the effort—If there’s no added value for the people scanning your QR codes, don't bother using them as they may just work against you instead of for you.
10. Think of your card as a "Call to Action" !
Consider producing small print runs of customized cards tailored to specific events, campaigns or markets. Consider your next trade show, and create cards that have a special download or show-specific offer. At a cocktail event, hand out cards that invite partygoers to check out photos of the gathering at a micro-site or on Facebook.
11. Is your type a bunch of tough characters?
Make sure your typeface and text size is easy to read in print —
without having to squint or hold the card two feet in front of your face!
– Choose a type font that is not ultrathin, too cursive, or too small to be legible.
– Make sure important information stands out in the design.
– Organize your layout by grouping related information.
– Use no more than two typefaces in the design.
– Have good contrast between type and background to make it easy on the eyes
– Don’t crowd the edge of the card by having the type too close to the trim.
12. Project the correct image clearly.
Your business card design should match the brand that you’re trying to create with your business. Think about it in the context of who your customers are and what type of image you’re trying to project. Are you trying to inspire trust?
Do you want them to think you’re creative? Design can be a powerful tool for
expressing that and reinforcing the message you’re trying to get across.
If you were trying to hire a professional face-painter for a kid’s birthday party, and she handed you a very formal and serious-looking business card, wouldn’t you find that confusing?
When designing your business card, make sure it's a positive reflection of both you and your company, and it mirrors your well-defined brand identity.
Enlist the help of a professional designer unless you have the requisite skills to design your business card yourself. – MH
Does Your Card Measure Up?
How many of these proven techniques have
you applied to your business card?
Compare your Card to see how well it ranks… Answer YES or NO
- Presents a positive, interesting and professional image.
- Features an attention-grabbing and professionally designed logo that’s
unique to your business.
- The logo "visually" defines what you sell at a glance.
- Benefits and features are described in branded tagline.
- Typeface and text size are easy to read.
- No more than two typefaces are used in the design.
- Good use of color and layout to present the image of your business.
- Colors and design is consistent with other marketing materials.
- Phone, email and website addresses are featured.
- Card has been updated within the past year.
- Back of card is used for additional information.
- Features all services you offer to your customers.
- Each staff member has his/her own personalized business card.
- You act on every opportunity to present your business card.
- You hear comments from others such as, "What a great card!"
- Others often ask more about the business after viewing your card.
Count your YES answers to see how your card measures up.
16 to 13 YES answers: You have a professional and effective card. You should be proud to present it!
12 to 9 YES answers: Your business card needs some work—redesign your card to increase its effectiveness. Maybe you also need to consider redesigning your logo.
8 or less YES answers: Get to work! Start out by re-evaluating and completely redesigning your business card for effectiveness and increased business. Consider hiring a professional graphic designer to design a card that's right for you.
Thanks for Reading – MH
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