A properly prepared business card is one of the business tools many people overlook. For a small investment usually less than $30 for 500 cards you can tell the world that you are and what services you can provide. Your business card is a silent salesperson, so what will it say about you?
When planning a card it’s important to consider your message. Your card will be what people reference or use to remember you. It needs to be professional, legible and contain the necessary information. Some exceptions would be a humorous card if you were a clown or a comedian and a juvenile card if you were involved with children’s services. In any case it would still need to cover the essential points in its creation.
Spend some advance thought to layout and how to capture all the necessary information in such a small space. Draw out a template and try different versions and placement of information. You can also use some of the online websites that have sample business cards templates readily available. (You will probably need to order from them to use it.)
Tip: Fax your card to yourself. This is a good way to see how legible you have made the important details.
In some cases a folded card might be acceptable. It is important to recognize that many people don’t like cards that are a different shapes and size (especially ones that won’t store conventionally in a rolodex or a business card organizer.)
Some questions to consider when preparing your business card
1) Who will receive your card? Hopefully everyone you meet. You should always be prepared to give out your cards. I am amazed at the number of people who attend business functions and come without their cards. Students are notorious for not having a business card. It is an essential part of job hunting.
Tip: When attending a function that the exchange of cards is expected, wear something with pockets. Keep you own cards in your right pocket and the cards of the people you meet in your left.
2) What will they do with the card once they receive it? Store it in a Rolodex, add it to the database, and put it in a stack with a rubber band around it? My personal favorite for services I use around the house, vet, pharmacy, cleaners, etc., is the refrigerator magnet business card. They are all readily accessible. They are a little more expensive, but those are the cards I use most.
3) Under what conditions will your card be used? In an emergency (if you need a plumber) you would want your card to jump out of the stack.
Exotic or unusual cards are clever but not exactly suited to the business environment. Exceptions being if you can identify on your card some service you perform like embossing, hot foil stamping or product you sell, specialty papers or if you happen to be an exotic dancer. Bright colors are not a good idea unless you are involved with color in your business paint, flowers, decorating, etc. Specialty effects such as vignettes and shadowing get lost in such a small space. Keep it simple and not distracting. I recently got a card on an opaque material and I simple could not read what was printed on it.
Many people now include their photos, this is especially touchy feely. But if you are involved in the photographic business like Eastman Kodak or are a photographer this is a great idea.
A couple of things to consider about photos:
o Some people judge services by the person’s appearance.
o There may be security reasons why you might not want your photo on your card.
o Photos can “date” you or your product.
o Photos can personalize you and make you more accessible.
It is perfectly acceptable to have multiple cards. You should consider having both a professional and personal business card. My husband, a retired Marine, has a somewhat risqué but funny business card he gives out to Marines he might meet. Another example would be if you were looking for a job you would want to differentiate your work, address and contact information from your home information. You may also have a sideline business that you would want identified separately.
Business card essentials:
On the front:
o Name, Title, Company name & logo, mailing address, phone and fax numbers, E mail address, website & cell phone number.
On the back:
o Who you are what you do, your mission statement, your vision, services you perform, skill sets you have, awards you have won, associations/memberships.
TIP: Make sure one side of your card is always in English. If you plan to travel or do business in a foreign country, it’s a good idea to invest in a translation of your essential details for the other side of the card. If you do a lot of international travel especially countries that have security risk it might be worth downplaying your title. Do NOT have a card that shows that you are someone of great importance.
General writing tips:
o Stay away from unusual fonts and different fonts on the same card;
o Make sure your card is legible and credible;
o Make sure the information is well organized and makes sense in the layout;
o Make sure your name is large enough that people can read without glasses;
Don’t rely on one card to do it all.
Plan your cards as carefully as you would a resume. Be proud of your card. It’s a reflection of you. Business cards are an inexpensive yet essential selling tool. Be prepared to give out your card in any circumstance and for heaven’s sake “Don’t Leave Home Without It.”