Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Business Card: A Missed Opportunity?

More often than not, your business card is the first piece of marketing material that is viewed by potential clients. So what does your card say about your business?

First off, the business card needs to establish 3 things: who you are, what your business is, and how to contact you. However, it also needs to do a little more. It needs to connect with potential clients by differentiating from your competitors while staying consistent with your brand.

Some helpful tips...

1. Composition. There are two sides to the business card... and that's valuable real estate. Use both sides of the card to lay out your information... and remember that negative space can be a good thing if designed appropriately. Be sure to include your company logo, tagline, name, title, phone, email, web address, and physical address. Social media contacts should also be included to engage the potential client to connect with you to further establish and nurture the business relationship.

2. Size matters. The traditional business card is 3-1/2" wide by 2" high. If your layout makes better sense designed as a vertical, then lay the card out at 2" wide by 3-1/2" high. Try other non-traditional sizes (smaller rectangle, squares, circles, rounded edges, die cuts, folds, etc.) to differentiate from the crowd. Many printers offer specials for different sizes and shapes of business cards... just be sure that they can fit in a pocket without getting damaged as that will defeat the original intent.

3. Printing and paper. There are many different types of paper (stock) options and printing methods available for business cards. You generally want a stock that is durable. If you have the opportunity, get paper samples to feel the weight of the paper. Some stocks feel like linen, others can feel like silk, and others can print on transparent vellum or even wood veneer... your choice depends on the feeling you want to leave with the person left holding the card, and if your choice is relative to the business you are in. Consider the finish of the stock as well... matte, gloss, uncoated, etc. As far as printing, you can have colors print digitally, on a 4 or 6 color press, screen printed, foil embossed, letterpressed, spot-gloss, etc. Pricing for the different printing methods can vary greatly, so do some research before you make the final decision.

4. Stay true to your brand image. You want to be sure that your business card is an extension of your visual image... so stay consistent! Use your logo, fonts, and color scheme that you have established for your look. Nothing screams unprofessional more than an unbranded business card.

5. Connect with your audience. Is there a specific question you ask potential clients to make them think to convert them into paying clients? Use it on your card. Do you have a QR code or special to drive to your website? Include it on your card as well. Use your card as a "promotional" piece for your business to generate more interest.

6. Be professional. Is your current business card not doing your business justice? Ready for an overhaul? Then consider hiring a brand + design professional to guide you with the process. Most professionals are trained and experienced not only in design and branding, but also the latest in printing methods, and can tie it all together for you which will inevitably save you time and money.

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