What's in a Business Card?

Over the years as I have attended trade shows, networking meetings, chamber events and more; I have noticed a few things about the successful and the not so successful. First of all, do you have a business card?

If you belong to a large corporation, you were probably issued business cards as a matter of course, almost as if it was a company perk. If you are in a small or home-based business, chances are you, personally, made the effort to get business cards, which entailed design, print and distribution. So if you went to all of the trouble of acquiring them, you should use them to your advantage. Here are a few tried and true rules for marketing with your card.

1. Never leave home without the cards. I have stopped for coffee already and had someone ask me for a card because they saw my car sign as I folded into the local coffee shop lot. If you want people to discredit you as a businessperson, all you have to do is say "Oh sorry I forgot my cards today." I have even been to trade shows and fellow exhibitors were walking around without cards. You have not only lost an immediate opportunity to market your business, but you look like an amateur who does not deserve the business.

2. Is the information correct? The reality is that sometimes we change our contact information. If you know that there will be changes in the near future, then limit the number of cards you have printed. Do not, scribble out and hand write information on your card. Back to "Can anyone say amateur?" I said that to someone once and his reply was, "yes but business cards are expensive." That says two things to me: 1) he did not shop around for a good price and 2) AMATEUR! The idea is to attract business not scare it away.

3. Does the card say what you want it to say? What message are you trying to get across? When designing a business card, think about the placement of information on the card. Is the key information in a prime place on the card? Does the design work with the rest of your company image? Your business card should be an extension of your company just like your logo, stationery, checks, signage, website and more. They should all get across the same message and design.

4. Can prospective clients contact you easily with the information provided on your card? This is a big one!

Is your website up to date?
Do you check your email at least once a day? (And respond!)
Is your email address professional (not mycompany@genericfreeemail.com )
Is your voice mail message clear, concise and professional?

In this day of technology everyone assumes you must have email and a website for your business to be successful. This is not necessarily true. If you do not conduct business via email or internet then do not put that information on your card. No matter what you use, the key is to be accessible.

5. Are you marketing with your business card? Keeping them in your pocket is a waste of time and money. Be clear about who your target client is. When you see an opportunity slip in your business card. Do not be rude and pushy, but confident that the person could benefit from your services.

If you are not sure that your business card is getting you where you want, market test it. Give it to some friends and colleagues and ask them for their opinions. If your friends are not going to be honest with you, then try "strangers." At the next event you attend ask some people what they think of your design.