Business cards are a fundamental networking tool. Without them, we are forced to rely on someone remembering our name and finding us on LinkedIn. But it goes deeper than that. Although I have a strong affinity with the ‘just Google it’ principle, there is something somewhat comforting to being able to choose a business card from the pile I have on my desk. I can choose someone I have already met – someone I already have an impression of outside of the online world.
But how does a business card find its way onto my desk? There are all sorts of situations that have led to the little stack I have in front of me. But there are fundamentals that help to ensure that those cards stay on my desk and don’t make their way to the bin. There are also a number of reasons why those ones made the final cut, while I walked past others at exhibitions.
Of course, the design of a card is in an inescapable factor. Much like web design, even the smallest change can make a big difference. Most business cards have a white back ground, as a result a different coloured background can really help a card to stand out. That said – ensure that you don’t go for style over substance. There are some beautifully designed cards in my deck – but some of them, I have no idea what they do. So, I suppose although still very pickup-able, not a good sales pitch at the crucial moment.
Business cards are also made more interesting with a quirky shape, a different material, a pop up bit or even a video business card which is fitted with an MP4.
We could talk about the design all day, probably even all week. Oubly has a great page with 78 designs to browse if you need inspiration.
There is nothing worse than business cards stacked up on an exhibition table. If you cards are lying on a table in disarray, you are not saying ‘you need this card’, ‘this card is valuable’. You are saying, ‘I brought these as an after thought’. Present your business cards as you would yourself, because if the potential client doesn’t get the moment to speak to you – all they will have is that card. If the difference between that card ending in their file is the 2 or 3 seconds they have to decide whether to pick it up or not, why risk it?
Whether it’s a multi-tier for your reception desk to hold more than one person’s card, or a single one for your desk. There are even outdoor ones so that, even if your business is closed, your details are available 24/7. These are particularly popular with those in the construction industry. I have seen them used many times outside of a newly built house. It’s a great way to ensure that passing admirers pick up a card and save it for the crucial decision making moment.
It’s easy to fall for a juicy deal and to compromise on the weight of the paper as a result. This could be a fundamental mistake – the quality of paper can actually make a big difference as to how the card is perceived.
There are lots of ways to go about this but there are ways to make sure that your card not only makes it to a safe place, but also travels beyond its first destination. For example, refer a friend offers are frequently used – so why not do this with your business card? Split your card into a couple of different sections with a space to write a referral name. When you give your cards out offer an incentive so that simply by ripping your card up (!) and giving half to a friend, your message can be spread even further than the hand you placed it in.
Personal trainers often give cards out that have signature boxes on the back. Much like a coffee shop loyalty card, these business cards can allow a customer to get a free session on completion. These ensure that the PTs information stays with the client. Conveniently, these cards are often stored in gym bags – so just as the client goes to the gym for the first time in a long time, they get the reminder that the help is still there waiting for them.
There are numerous ways to add this little extra and what works for your business will be different.
If you are asked for your business card in conversation, write a note on the back. Whether it is something you talked about or your nickname, your direct extension, where you were talking – anything. It’s a great way to make sure that when they are sorting through their deck, they pause over yours to read the note. It will also help to jog their memory as to where they met you and what you spoke about.
About the author
Ali Newton is the Strategy and Marketing Manager for The Display Centre, where a team of creative experts provide store display equipment, including adult and child mannequins and bespoke items. Ali combines her fine art and fashion qualifications with her market research experience and psychology degree to help retailers drive their sales.