In this digital age where everything from business products to customer advice to industry information is found online, is there still any value to the humble business card? If you've ever been to a networking event, the most common question you'll hear is, “Do you have a card?” Whether you are an industry professional or entrepreneur, people often ask for your card in exchange for theirs - in formal networking meetings and informal or impromptu meetings at a restaurant, or in the checkout line at the grocery store. It's surprising then, that a lot of business owners are no longer having their business cards printed, opting instead to point people to their business websites for further information or exchanging business information on smart phones.
There is still something simple, effective and efficient about a traditional paper business card. They are easy to carry and remember, simple and inexpensive to produce, and a handy way for people to contact you at a later date. Business cards make you memorable, and are perfect for adding personal notes so the person receiving one can remember exactly who you were and how to contact you. Not everyone exchanges information via their SmartPhone – in fact surprisingly few use them for recording contact data at networking events. Not having a card therefore could lead to missed opportunities. If you want to point people to your website, you'll still have to write it down someplace, so why not just have it on your business card?
Here are a few tips to help you make an impression with your business card.
One of the most effective ways to ensure that people remember you is to create a stunning and attractive card. You want yours to be the card in someone’s stack they show other people - "Isn't this a cool business card?" Don't cheap-out on home-made designs. Hire a designer to really focus on creating a card that represents you and your businesses brand image. Make effective use of colors. Experiment with differing paper shapes (rounded edges, fold-overs, or a textured edge) and orientations (landscape and portrait). To make it stand out, it needs to be different.
Remember that as much as you want your card to look attractive, it still has to communicate your contact details effectively. How much contact information do you really need? Will people need to know your full mailing address, or is your phone number, email and website sufficient? A lot of business cards are so full of information that there's little room for creativity in the design, making them look cluttered and unattractive. Avoid the use of graphics, aside from your logo. A lot of people now use social media icons on their business cards to demonstrate which social media tools they are using. This can be effective, but it can also make the card look cluttered - those icons often work more effectively on a website than on the small space on a business card. Work with your designer to create a design that's simple and has just what you really need.
Make sure the font is crisp, a decent size and highly readable. If people have to squint to read it, or try to decipher what it says because of fancy hard-to-read fonts, they likely won't bother keeping it.
Again, don’t go cheap. Choose a paper stock that is sturdy enough to withstand coming in and out of wallets, Smartphone cases and portfolios. Make sure it has been proofread and is error free. Nothing says shoddy like a business card with mistakes that must be corrected with white-out or handwriting. Ask your printer for a sample proof before they print the order. You need to ensure the paper stock, the colour, the texture or special cut that you have ordered, looks the way you envisioned.
Whenever possible, write something on the card that you're giving away. Whether it's a signature, a cell number, or jot down what you do or where you met - that personal touch will make you and your card more memorable.
There may come a day when everyone becomes used to exchanging information with another business person by scanning their contact details with their phones, but until that time, the tried and true business card is still one of the most effective marketing tools around. Treat them like the worthwhile investment they are, and they will help you make an impression that creates opportunities for your business.
Trenval Business Development Corporation is Bay of Quinte’s Community Futures Business Specialist, financing business start-ups, expansions or successions in the Quinte region for 34 years. Trenval can help with small business support including small business funding and small business loans.