In this era of mobile websites and corporate social media, where a Google search can find just about anyone, is the humble business card still important? We believe it is. But, as with a lot of marketing, it is about getting the basics right over all the fancy fluff.
When it comes to first impressions, the business card is one of the few ways in the digital age where you retain control over how you and your company come across to prospects. It’s a handy pocket-sized tool and its low tech nature means that after you’ve met someone you don’t have to fiddle with online address books or make a note to look each other up on LinkedIn. A well-designed business card is a personal connection and an ever-present physical reminder of what you do.
A badly-designed business card, however, can do more harm than good. It might not have the right information on it or too much. Space can good, so without cluttering your card here are the most important things to include:
Duh, OK, obvious…. Yes, your contact information is the main ingredient of the business card but we still see some people get this wrong. Once you’ve impressed someone with your spiel, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch with you. The key word here is you. They’ll want to contact the person they met face to face, so let them have your direct details, so they can contact you rather than your PA. Avoid impersonal email addresses such as enquiries@ or info@ or phone numbers that will only get them as far as the front desk.
Bearing in mind the limited space a business card offers, your office’s physical address isn’t essential (unless you are a local business) but you do want it there if possible. You need a direct dial landline, email address and website address. If you want to include your mobile, fine, as long as you don’t mind being contacted on it. Maybe you have a work-only mobile. Some people are careful about who they give their personal mobile number too as there are some business folk who won’t think twice about calling you on a Sunday afternoon.
Social media icons were all the rage a few years ago. Nowadays, a company should be easy enough to find on social media. But if you are hugely active on Facebook, maybe add the Facebook logo. Highlight your strength. One or two logos are all that are needed… except LinkedIn. If you are in business professionally and not on LinkedIn, I’d worry about that before your business cards.
Again, your business card isn’t about introducing your company but you. If your name is Jonathan Smith but you prefer to go by Jon, or you’re a Katherine who likes to go by Kate, make sure you put the familiar version on your business card. Be honest about how you prefer to be addressed. Having “Mr Phillip K. S. Balderson” on your card just makes you sound like your head’s some place other than in the room. “Phil Balderson” is probably how everyone knows you best.
Your job title should sit directly under your name. There does seem to be an abundance of “wacky” titles out there at the moment, such as “Deliverer of Dreams” and “Chief Sales Guru”. That could indeed make you more memorable; it could also get you taken less seriously. Up to you. On some of my social media profiles, my title is “Grand Fromage”…. There are no rights and wrongs with job titles but the traditional “Sales Director” or “Managing Director” does at least emphasise that you are a decision maker. This will be of relevance should your business cards be placed somewhere, i.e. where no conversation has taken place first, such as an information table at an expo.
A good company logo’s job is to convey your business in a simple and memorable way and most importantly, be consistent across your branding. Website, social media, business stationery… whenever your prospects see your logo they should recognise it easily. A pixelated or smudged logo on a business card doesn’t promise greatness – but we’ll discuss printing quality a bit later.
Not all businesses have a logo of course. But look at the McDonald’s golden arches. The Nike tick. Symbols you instantly recognise. Worth bearing in mind if you haven’t got a logo…?
A strapline is usually a four or five-word descriptor of what your company does or its mission statement. It’s especially important if your company name doesn’t include your category of business. Someone like Bert the Butcher could manage without one, but Synergize Inc. could benefit from explaining what they do, e.g. Smart IT Solutions for Small Businesses.
If there’s room (and room is good – you don’t have to fill every square millimetre), you could add an offer to your business card. The offer must be short, sweet and have an expiry date. Offers without an expiry date are unlikely to be taken up as there’s no sense of urgency. Or why not promote a snappy testimonial instead? Word of Mouth is the best form of advertising but hardly anyone pro actively shouts about it, as I’ve mentioned before. We’re too British.
Once you’ve nailed those six things, you should stop there. Simple and uncluttered will always look more professional and upmarket, if that’s what you’re aiming for. Avoid that raging desire to fill empty space, although you should take advantage of both the front and back. The first thing someone will do when you hand them your business card is turn it over. If there’s nothing on the back, that is a wasted opportunity. The business card is one of the most underrated pieces of marketing real estate. Use it!
Finally, we’d recommend you get your business cards printed on good quality paper. OK, we’re bound to say that as Key 3 Media offers print as well as design. But cheap paper is only for businesses looking for cheap customers. I’ll never forget hearing a financial adviser bang on about how he was only interested in high net worth clients, yet when he gave me his card it was the cheapest thing you’ve ever seen. And it had a typo. Needless to say, I didn’t invest with him.
A nice, error-free 400gsm matt laminated business card will do wonders, and it doesn’t even cost that much. (We can print 500 for £37.80+vat, which includes delivery.)
We’re always happy to talk stationery design and print. Feel free to call 01743 491356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.