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An important part and oftentimes the least favorite part of any business is marketing. This is as true whether you have been in business 20 years or just starting out. All businesses benefit from following an ongoing marketing plan. Very successful businesses have at least three marketing strategies in place and operating at all times.
Why business cards are important
Professional business cards are an extremely important part of marketing your business. This one time investment in creating your business cards will repay you tenfold at least. The information I will be sharing comes directly from my personal experience and the way I do my business.
I am very excited to share some simple, yet highly effective ways of maximizing your marketing efforts and time using a business card.
Having a professional business card can be a very important part of your overall marketing strategy and is a basic tool in getting started. A professional looking card can help you spread the word quickly and inexpensively about your company.
Let’s begin by discussing some of the reasons it is so important to have a professional business card that you will be proud to hand to your prospects and clients.
It’s an easy marketing tool
Number one, a business card is your most basic marketing tool and creates the awareness in your own mind “you are now in business.” It is also your least expensive marketing tool and form of advertising your business. Your card is a key component in helping people you meet to remember who you are and what service or product you offer. It presents you and your company in a very professional manner which creates an impression of who you are.
When you hand someone your card, you are giving them a sample of your business, a sneak preview of coming attractions; your card basically sets the tone for what they can expect if they decide to do business with you. You want to establish respect for you and your company when they first receive your card.
Providing all your contact information
Another reason it’s important to have a business card may seem very obvious and yet it is important to mention. Your business card is the means by which you easily allow others to contact or follow up with you after meeting; by providing all of your contact information such as telephone number, company name, and email address.
Creating a tagline to help your customers remember
Let’s look at the information you would want on your business cards. To begin with, you would obviously include both your name and the company name. You will usually want to have your business title following your name. For example, after my name, I would have a Certified Real Estate Agent. As a successful realtor, an example tagline you can add is, “The best move you will ever make.” You will want to include the type of business entity you have. For example, sole proprietor, partner or corporation. This creates credibility in you and your business.
How to add your address
If you are going to be including a business address, here are a few guidelines. If you have a brick and mortar business, always include your actual location address. If however, you work out of your home office, only list a P.O. Box. Do not under any circumstances have home address. If you do not have a post office box, get one or don’t give an address. If your company name is trademarked, include the appropriate symbol on your card. This is another way to establish credibility and to be viewed as a serious business person. the copyright or trademark should be included any other marketing pieces such as stationary, brochures, web sites etc.
Of course, you will want your business telephone number on the card. Again, I do not recommend your home telephone number for two reasons. One is that you want to be circumspect about who you give access to your personal information.
And number two: I recommend clear boundaries between personal time and professional time. You do not contacts calling you at home when you’re with your family.
You would include your email address, as this is expected in business today. This replaces where we used in the past a fax number.
Add helpful tips
Another idea I have found very useful is to include some additional information on the back side of your card. This does not increase the cost significantly and gets double the exposure. I have a quote which really addresses the foundation of my business. You could also list the services you provide, a tip regarding how to use your specific product or service or even something specific to your business. As a realtor, I’ve noticed many mortgage brokers have a simple amortization chart on the back and restaurants give guidelines on proper tipping etiquette.
Printing and design
When creating your business one of the most important points is not to be penny wise and pound foolish. This is not the place to cut costs. Professional looking business cards are very reasonably priced for the value they represent to you and your business. We do not recommend using software templates to create and print your own business cards at home. A professional printer is an investment in yourself and your business image.
Type of material
The first decision you will need to make is what stock of paper to use. You want your card to be of a high quality and the feel (weight and texture) of your card to be impressive. The value you place on your business will be evident by the image you present and your business card needs to reflect high value.
Next you will choose your font. Remember, you want to choose font which can be easily read at a glance. This is not the place to use fancy script. Make sure your text is clear and readable with plenty of white space. All information needs to be current. If you have a change in your information, have new cards printed. Do not cross off and handwrite new information on your card. Do not cover up old information with stickers or white out either.
Should you include a photo of yourself?
It is your personal decision as to whether or not you want to include a photo on your card. Photos are accepted in some businesses and are frowned on as unprofessional in others. For example, have you ever had a business card from your physician with a photo on it? If you do include a photo, please do not use a high school photo if you are over 20 years old.
Get a sample of your new business cards
When your card is ready, the printer will fax you a proof to approve. Take your time to carefully look at all areas of the card. We suggest asking one or two other people to review the proof also. For information containing numbers we recommend reading them from right to left (in other words, backwards). This helps reduce errors as sometimes when we know what it is supposed to be, that’s what we see, even when it is not there.
The reason I want to discuss ways to use your card is so it can be used in a number of ways other than just handing them to people when you meet them. Successful business people think outside of the box and look for creative ways to leverage all of your marketing efforts. Your card can be your most effective tool, while being very inexpensive.
Passing out your business card at an event
When you are at a networking event, it’s a given you will hand your card out. You may want to give several cards at a time and invite the recipient to pass them along to others who would benefit from knowing about your business.
If someone does not have a card and you would like their information, hand them one of your cards and ask them to write their information on the back of yours. This creates an impression of your sincere interest in what it is they do. One word of caution when you do this, make sure you place their card in a different spot from where your new cards are kept. You don’t want to accidentally give away a new lead to someone else.
Remember the power of your business card when you are at a networking event is your card represents the handshake you leave behind. Your business card, like your hand shake, leaves an impression. Make it a good impression.
Always have your business cards with you
Always have a good supply of business cards with you at all times. Look for opportunities to use your business card as advertising. One way to do this is to place your cards where they can be seen by a number of people, such as posting on bulletin boards in shops, offices etc. Also, you may want to leave cards with the professionals you deal with, for example your doctor, massage therapist or dentist. Remember to ask permission first however before leaving cards.
Adding your business card to your letters
And don’t forget to include at least one (and I always include two) business cards in every piece of written correspondence you send to others.. There are people who include their cards in the bills they are paying and others who leave a card every time they pay a bill in a restaurant with the tip.
Your business card message
Since we are going to be using our business cards in so many different venues, it makes good business sense to ensure your card is as effective as possible. We have already discussed how important it is for your card to look professional. What we are addressing here is the effectiveness of the information itself as opposed to the aesthetics. A beautiful, professional business card is useless if it does not do what it is supposed to do which is generate business for you.
Convey a clear message
To be effective your card must convey a clear message of what business you are in and what product or service you offer. A person receiving your card should be able to tell immediately exactly what you do. Oftentimes, cards are confusing and having a clear message sets you apart from your competition and professionally presents you and your company’s image. Your card is a valuable tool in creating a memorable impression.
You want your card to be eye-catching and convey a powerful message. You want people to be excited to read your entire card and want to know more about you and your company. This encourages them to follow up with you, which is exactly what you want to happen. This is how an effective card can lead to future sales or other transactions benefiting your business.
Business card etiquette
Now that you have created a professional, effective business card, let’s spend some time talking about proper business card etiquette from both a giving and receiving point of view. How you give someone your card or receive the card they are offering you, is also part of the impression they will form about you.
Clean and fresh business cards
Let’s begin by talking about a few guidelines to remember when we are handing out our own cards. Your business cards should always be clean and fresh with no tattered edges or smudges of any kind on them. You hold the card in your right hand and by the right hand corner closest to your body. After you hand them the card, you are already in a position to shake hands with them.
Use a business card holder
Business card holders are a great way to keep your cards clean and also create a very professional image when you take your card from the case. Again, have plenty of cards with you at all times. Most card holders hold a limited number of cards, so make sure you have a back up supply.
Do not pass it to everyone in the room
You will want to give someone a card once they have requested it from you. Do not go around the room automatically handing your card to everyone you see. Being selective about whom you present cards to creates a more professional appearance.
Treat your card with respect
When receiving another’s business card, the most important thing is to treat their card with the respect you would like shown for yours. Kind of like the Golden Rule for business cards. Just as your card is a symbol of your business, so is theirs.
If you receive a business card from someone
When a card is handed to you, grasp it by the corner and take the time to read the information as the person is standing there. Ask any questions you may have and compliment them on some feature of their card. Ask them how you could be of service to them in their business. This again shows a genuine interest in them, which automatically makes them more interested in you and more likely to remember who you are. After reviewing the information on their card, place it into your card holder, calendar, etc. Don’t just stick it into your pocket.
When you ask someone for their card, this opens the door and creates the opportunity to reciprocate and ask for yours. This is the most professional way to give your card to someone whom you want to have your card and has not asked for it. Also, by asking for their card, you then have a means and reason to follow up with them after your meeting.
10 important reasons why your business card is your best promotional piece
- Your business card is your first basic marketing piece and announces to the world you are officially “In Business.”
- Your business card is your least expensive form of advertising to create.
- Your business card is easily and inexpensively able to be distributed without incurring other costs.
- It helps people to remember you, as the majority of your cards are handed out face to face.
- It can introduce your brand.
- Creates name recognition.
- Are easy to have with you at all times.
- It has the potential to generate more business for you than any other form of advertising.
- It is versatile and can easily be modified as you and your business evolve.
- It can create instant credibility for you and your company.
As a bonus point, your business card is a representation of you and your company that this person takes away with them, similar to the handshake we leave behind as mentioned above.
I trust you have learned some creative and new ideas to maximize the value of your business cards. Creating and using successful business cards is another strategy designed to grow your business in a simple and effective way. I would love to have you send me one of your business cards. See how easy it is to ask for business cards?
Have a great time creating your business card, the mini billboard for your business.
Remember: BUSINESS CARDS ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL!!!