Are Business Cards Still Effective?
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A couple of trends may have you thinking that business cards are no longer relevant: the steady growth of online networking, and the shift towards storing information electronically. Beth Bartlett explains why a good business card is as important as ever, and how you can make sure that yours represents you and your business well.
You’re enjoying a great conversation with a new contact, and the chat has the best ending possible: “Do you have a card?”
Of course you have a card. But is it the best one possible?
Business cards are the one form of communication that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1600s, partially due to their simplicity. Even with the advent of cell phones and the Internet, the humble business card remains an effective tool in networking and gaining new business.
Technology has tried to horn in on the ironclad grip of the business card, with little effect on the overall market. In the last few years, business people have seen small gadgets that bump together and exchange information, e-mailable business cards and virtual cards embedded in QR codes and swapped via cellphone cameras. While these garner some fleeting attention, nothing is as dependable as a real-life card you can keep in a wallet or pin to a bulletin board. It’s fine to experiment with innovative new ways of sharing information, but that little square of printed cardstock covers all platforms.
One of the best ways to create a unified platform with your business cards and technology is with your personal brand. Your card should have the same design, logo, and taglines as your website, and you should extend that brand to all forms of your business on social media, including LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. When someone receives your card and looks you up on the Internet, they should instantly know they are at the right site.
Know your market
Like a sincere smile and a firm handshake, your business card should make people feel comfortable with you. It is an extension of your professional self, so keep fonts readable and clear and consider your market when choosing a design. It’s fine to have a hobby like gardening, but you don’t need a flower-decked card if you’re in Information Technology. Also, don’t overcrowd your card with information; you just need the basics. Those basic details will change depending on your market; a social media coordinator will probably list online account information, while a shopkeeper needs the phone number and physical address of their business.
Have those cards ready to whip out at a moment’s notice.
Stack the deck
While there are many ways to make business cards memorable, such as custom-made cards printed on metal, wood or plastic or cards that can be used as rulers, bottle openers, toys or even rubber band guns, there is one trick that takes just a little extra effort on your part: be generous. Once you have the best card possible, keep plenty with you at all times, and give them out freely. The cost of a re-order is nothing compared to lost business and not being prepared.
When you do decide on a business card design, remember to keep at least some of the space on the back of the card blank. Printers offer color graphics, calendars and other bells and whistles for both sides, but leaving some blank space allows the recipient to scribble down extra information after speaking with you.
Beth Bartlett is a former office worker turned freelance writer. She writes on a variety of topics, including invoice software and online reputation management. Her work can be found in various publications and websites.