Often maligned as a “necessary evil” in the business world, your business card is the most overlooked piece of marketing in your business. Where else can you invest so little to get in the hands of so many? I did say invest not spend because if you invest a bit of money with the mindset of creating an amazing card, your returns will be incredible compared to those who buy basic cards or use a template that thousands of others use. I once joined a weekly networking group and when everyone passed their cards out, I got 3 cards for 3 different industries that had the same artwork! Talk about not standing out. Today’s buyers are looking for someone that rises to the top and an average business card doesn’t convey that message just like a cookie cutter web site doesn’t. It’s not just a matter of being good at what you do, you have to look like you’re good at what you do.
Believe it or not, your card speaks volumes about how you conduct your business. If you are telling me how great you are as a plumber because you only use the best products then you hand me a “promo” business card which you ordered online on sale and designed yourself, I may think otherwise. Perhaps you are attending a networking event only to find there are several people in attendance who sell the same products as you do. A Unique business card can help you stand out, in fact I have even had my card start a conversation with a prospect which led them to becoming a customer and really isn’t that what the true purpose of your card is.
Don’t Appear Needy
Your card is not supposed to be a menu of services offered. Often times we work with clients that want to include every single angle that could lead to a customer but in reality, the opposite happens, cards like that tend to repel prospects. Everything you do is also done by almost everybody else in your industry and your card is not the place to showcase line items of services. The purpose of your card is to help make a connection and to give a prospect an easy way to connect with you when you part. In order for them to want to connect with you your card has to make an impact. When you simply have a laundry list of services or products you sell, you appear needy, not confident that you are the one that can serve their need best.
People Don’t Keep Cards Anymore, They Scan Them Into Their Contacts
Assuming this is true for some people let’s concentrate on those and why for them, an amazing card is even more important. Think about your own habits for a second, if you were a scan and dump person and had a stack of randomly unexciting cards to put into contacts, does any of them merit a second look? Of course not, but then as you go through the stack comes a card that is so original, so cool in its presentation, so nice to hold due to the special coating used, would you not give it a second glance to see who made such an incredible card? I bet you would and there would be the name of you and your company. Immediately you would flash back to the time you first met and received their card. You commented on how great their card was then and are thinking the same thing now. Odds are you are not going to include that card in the forthcoming post scan dump because it aroused interest in you. Now you are standing out for the second time to a person who supposedly doesn’t care about collecting business cards. Once you hit the contacts, how can you stand out?
How You do Something is How You do Everything
You may or may not believe this personally but you are not selling to yourself! This slogan is one of the core beliefs in many successful business people and entrepreneurs and they expect to work with like thinking people. One thing I have said for years regarding business cards (and everything else you print) is “It’s only your image, skimp all you want”. Not to be demeaning or insulting but unless you realize how important it is to always present yourself in the best possible light, you will be taking two steps for every one your competition takes to get to the top. With so many choices for buyers these days, why save a penny and lose a dollar.
Let it Go
You may have started out with a business card mill and are worried about changing your image. Don’t be, if your business is not exploding, probably nobody will notice and those that do will be pleasantly surprised. I have had conversations with prospects concerning not wanting to walk away from the $25 they had invested in the card mill cards and the clip art icon they were using. I can only ask you this; what is a customer worth to you in terms of net profit and what is the cost of a business card as a percentage? How many can you afford to lose by not making a great impression but more importantly how many could you have by making a great impression? We have clients that hand out cards that by almost anyone’s view are expensive cards, laser cut aluminum with digital printing on top of that but what an impression! I’m not suggesting everyone has to have cards like this but will tell you that when you step up with your cards, prospects will step up and want to get to know you better.
Design is Critical
If you are a designer then design your own cards but if not, leave it to the pros. There is much more than meets the eye in designing a good card from font selection and weight to placement of elements to proper use of photos and treatments. On top of that, there are a lot of special coatings available not that can enhance the design if the card is designed from the start with the end product in mind. Good business cards are seldom created with drag and drop art elements and you certainly don’t want to be in a room and hear that you have the same artwork on your card as someone else in the room. The fee for a top designer is nothing compared to the result you will get when you start handing out your cards and the design is a onetime fee, future printing does not include the design fee.
Really Important Advice
When you hire a good designer, they will make your card design in a vector based program like Adobe Illustrator or equivalent. The importance of this is that when you go to add other marketing pieces to your suite, your image will expand infinitely with do degradation of quality. Card mills and many online resources tend to use Photoshop file types for design and that becomes a big problem when you want to print a sign or banner, wrap a vehicle or even embroider a shirt. Get it done right the first time and you have no worries in the future.