Your Business Card, Your Brand
Business cards have changed dramatically since they first appeared in China in the 15th century. At that time, they were essential tools of etiquette that were only for aristocrats and royalty, but in today’s competitive market, business cards are an essential tool for any business interaction. With the sheer amount of business cards that are distributed today, it is more important than ever before to set your company apart from the rest.
Think of your business card as a first and last impression. People can make assumptions about your business based on the information on and the quality of your business card. It also serves as a lingering reminder of you long after you have parted ways with a potential business associate. What do you want your business card to portray about your business? There are some simple rules to follow regarding what should and shouldn’t be on your business card.
Business Card Do’s
Brand Your Company
Your business card is your first opportunity to brand your organization with a potential client or peer who could offer you referral work. If prospective clients receive your business card from a friend or coworker, it is the only information they have about your company and thus it is your one opportunity to impress them. Put your logo on your business card, and use fonts and colors that are consistent with what is on your website and other printed materials. It is important that your branding is professional. Do not include clip art or cartoon images on your business card.
Include All Contact Information
It sounds simple, but make sure your potential clients have all of your contact information. List a telephone number that will always be answered, a mailing address, a fax number, email address, and website. If you have a toll-free number include that with a local phone number. You never know when an out-of-town client will choose to call a toll-free number over a local number.
Use the Back of the Card
The backside of your business card is the perfect place to include information that makes your card worth holding on to. According to Chris Brunner, owner and developer of GreatFX Business Cards, business cards with printing on both sides are the most effective. If a card is unique or rare (laser cut metal or chocolate for example) it may have a better chance of marketing success…but unique and rare comes with a price. In order to be effective on a budget, you should plan ahead for what content to include on the card. List information such as additional office locations, services offered and professional memberships. These details often are what makes a client take notice of your business over another. Don’t let this space go to waste.
What Do You Do?
“One of the biggest mistakes I see on business cards is that it is not clear what a company does,” said PInow.com Brand Manager Troy Piegols. “People may put emphasis on the color and design of the business card, but if you don’t have a strong, relevant tagline it is ineffective. Someone who receives your card may not be clear on what you do if it does not mention your core business practice.” Examples of strong relevant taglines are "XYZCompany – Successfully Serving Papers Since 1980"; or "Riviera Enterprises – Professional Private Investigation Services."
Business Card Don’ts
Don’t Design Your Own Business Cards.
Unless you happen to be a trained graphic designer, do not design your own business cards. You work with professional clients and you should give off a professional image. Your business card is fundamentally the first impression and is a lasting reminder of you. Do not let your lasting impression look like the “Before” example in the image above.
Use a High-Quality Printer.
Do not use perforated business card templates that you printed on your office printer or free business cards that place the printer’s logo on the backside of the card. Your business card is first and foremost a reflection of your business. You should not be sharing that space and co-branding it with a printer. This can muddle your message, and confuse people who aren’t familiar with your company. Customers’ first impressions will be “free business cards” instead of impressing them with your professionalism. Business cards can be more reasonable than you think and a tax write-off.
Keep Them With You
Once you create a top-notch business card – distribute it! Have you ever met a potential new client and realized you left your business cards at the office? Have you attended a conference and met someone who could have referred you business, but instead of your business card they have a name and number on a cocktail napkin? Make sure you always have a stack of business cards with you, and remember to treat your business card as an important branding opportunity. Keep in mind that your business card is one of the most basic, but most effective forms of marketing and branding your company.
Want tips on how to network using your business card? Read Here’s My Card: How to Network Using Your Business Card to Actually Create More Business.