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What your business card says about your business

I am often asked about what details should go on a business card.  This article attempts to give my views.

In this day and age, information technology has become so advanced that everything, it seems, is done online.  Marketing is no exception – search engine optimization (SEO); pay-per-click (PPC) advertising; article marketing; directory placements, and such internet marketing tools have become buzzwords in the marketing world as a result of this ‘going online’ trend.

Nonetheless, the increasing level of internet usage and penetration (70.2% for the United States as of July 2007 according to Nielsen/Net Ratings) does not mean that you no longer have need for business cards.

Business Cards – Why do you need them?
In the world of stiff-necked, Saville Row suited businessmen (or their 20th century, dress-shirt-and-slacks equivalent) you’d feel mightily out of place if you didn’t have a business card to give out.  Truly, exchanging business cards with new acquaintances and possible business contacts is a tradition that you should never neglect.

It’s tradition…
Business cards are something that people expect to give out and be given whenever they meet someone new.  Business cards are not exchanged merely for advertising or marketing purposes; they are necessary reminders of people you have newly met.  Business cards, in effect, are actually some sort of social lubricant – easing new meetings along and making remembering other people easier on all the parties concerned.

Smooth operator…
Business cards also provide you with a way to advertise your services without seeming crass or obvious.  Upon introducing yourself and relating what you do, you simply hand out your business card and let it do your advertising and pre-selling for you.  No overt selling is required.  You can simply become the epitome of the perfect businessman – smooth, savvy and trustworthy – and thereby create a favourable impression on your potential client.  This way, you leave a lasting impression on your prospect without having to resort to pushy marketing techniques.

Latent marketing…
Business cards are effective marketing tools, too.  People usually collect and keep business cards – if not on their wallet or purse, then on their own card case or their cards drawer at their office.  People like being prepared for every possible eventuality so they are likely to keep your business card just in case they have need of your services in the future.

That’s the main advantage of business cards – staying power and latent marketing.  Even if those people who have your business card do not call you immediately, if and when they do need a service that you offer, they’d be much more likely to call you than some anonymous person or company that they find in the phone directory.  After all, they have met you or – in cases where their friends gave them your business card – at least their friends know you.  Business cards, therefore, give businessmen –especially small businessmen in the services industry – a trust-based, potential market.

The Ideal Business Card
Indeed, business cards are a definite requirement for any businessman, especially startup entrepreneurs.  If you don’t have them, be sure to have some printed out – fast.  Not all business cards are equally effective, though, so before you order some business cards, remember the following design basics.

The size…
Your business card should be small enough to carry around in your prospect clients’ wallet.  It should also fit standard card holders.  A business card with a 3.5” x 2” dimensions should do.

The look…
Definitely, your business card should look attractive.  Be sure to use colours that repeat your company colours but first, make sure that your colour combination really works for the target clients that you have in mind.  Your business card should be easy to read, too, so steer clear of fancy fonts that take too much effort to decipher.

The content…
Do not fill your business card with superfluous information (marital status and interests are definitely out).  Just put in the basics:  your name, company logo, company tag line or motto, company name, company address, telephone number/s, email address and company website – if you have one.

These are just the design basics.  You can innovate all you want – go for rounded corners, zany colors, etc. if you want.  Just remember not to go beyond the bounds of good taste.  Your business cards are not there to show that you’re creative (unless you’re in the creative designs field) but mainly to give your prospects a no-sweat means of getting in touch with you.  Therefore, one primary rule stands:  make your business cards easy on the eyes and easy to understand.

4 comments

  • Kyle Heston said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:39 pm :

    Business cards are the easiest way to make people aware what you are and what you do. Your article has rightly pointed out that even in this era of information overload, business cards are very important. However, most of us do not understand the real importance of business cards and do not pay much attention to what details one should include. A thoughtful and differentiated business card always catches the eyes of the people. Since you never know where you can find a chance to grow your business, it is always good to carry some business cards even if one is going for a social gathering.

  • Helon Hunter said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:40 pm :

    I totally agree with you that Business cards are very important. However, it is also a fact that business cards are the most ignored area and most of business cards are ill designed and not quite informative. This article will really help entrepreneurs to appreciate the importance of business cards and hope many of us will give a relook to our business cards. Great article. Little things make great difference and we often ignore the little things until someone mention and remind us of those things. I never thought about the importance of business cards until I read your article.

  • Jeffery Hunt said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:41 pm :

    Business cards mainly have business information about a business or individual. They are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and give memory aid. I always had the appreciation for the importance of business cards but I never realized that it could be used as an effective marketing tool also. This is like enlightenment. I never looked at business cards from marketing angle but I cannot disagree with you that these are really cost effective marketing tool for their staying power. People throw away pamphlets and catalog but they retain business cards.

  • Laura Heston said on October 14th, 2007 at 6:42 pm :

    I admire your articles Mark. The simplest things we ignore and you make us realize their importance with such an article. You talked about paper business cards but these days we are also using paperless business cards in an online world. Emails are normally sent with business cards attached. The documents exchange over the Internet also includes exchange of business cards.

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