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The Art of Business Card Marketing

What's not in your wallet?

Your business card may be the most important advertising tool you have. Those little pieces pack a powerful punch simply because they're inexpensive and easy to get in front of people.
Yet most people make the mistake of thinking printed business cards are just a vehicle for exchanging contact information. In our digital age, we have the Internet, PDAs and smart phones for that. To get real value from a business card, consider its true potential.
That commonplace card can be a key asset in your everyday marketing madness. Your business card is the one thing you should never leave home without. Ever meet a prospective customer unexpectedly while walking the dog? Or maybe you happened to spot a neglected roof in a friend's neighborhood that was just ripe for your services? While sometimes you get a chance to introduce yourself and what you do, quite often all you have is that piece of paper to leave behind. So make it intriguing. Follow these tips to use that valuable advertising real estate wisely.

Five Steps for Business Card Marketing Success

1. Explain what you have to offer

Besides telling people who you are and where to contact you, make sure your business card tells people what you do. Hopefully your company name or your title says something about what you offer. If they don't, add a few words to explain what you do. Either way, express what you do that makes you stand out. Let the world know about your "secret sauce" with a specific tag line or header. What perks and special services do you provide?
printed business cards
  • "Fresh ingredients, free delivery"
  • "Evening and weekend appointments available"
  • "Certified technicians that come to you"
  • "Best of [Your Town] Award Winner"
  • "Perfect events for every occasion"

2. Include a call to action or food for thought

Make space on your business cards to give prospects an enticing reason to call or visit, such as:
  • "Free consultation with this card - $50.00 value!"
  • "Visit YourSite.com for current specials"
  • "Exclusive titles available only at this location"
  • "Learn to speed read now and gain 87 hours this year"
If this approach doesn't fit your company or position or you think it sounds too promotional, you could include a revealing or humorous quote or statistic. Use something that piques interest about you and your offering, reflects your sensibilities and tells the recipient you care about your work.
  • "Life's too short to be miserable in your job"
  • "The details are not the details. They make the design." - Charles Eames
  • "Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality." -- Clifton Fadiman
  • "40% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35"

3. Look professional and up to date

Treat yourself and your company with respect and get professional quality business cards. Sure, you could try to print them on your laser jet or go to a quick printer and pinch a few pennies. You'll get what you pay for. And worse, your customers will question whether they can trust you with their business if it seems like you can't afford to print nice full color business cards.
Pay attention to details. Flimsy paper, off-the-shelf designs and typos leave a bad taste. A business logo and email address are important for credibility, so invest in basic branding to show you're the real deal. Use color and images for impact and basic design principles to make your business card pleasing and easy to read. Hire a designer for help, use customizable templates or see our Business Card Design Do's and Don'ts for tips. Keep them in a case or in a protected pocket where they won't get bent, marked up or scuffed.
Be proactive and keep your information up to date. Get your new business cards printing right away if any of your contact information or title has changed. Too busy, you say? You won't be for long if you appear behind and disorganized when scratching out your email address...

4. Distribute strategically and considerately

Think of your business cards as tiny billboards with the potential to attract just the right people at just the right time.
  • Don't be afraid to post them on public bulletin boards, stick them in doors or leave them in bowls for free drawings where your target audience might see them. Ask affiliated businesses to allow you to display your cards, such as paint stores if you're a painting contractor. Keep them at your fingertips at parties, on airplanes and at the gym. Magnetic business cards can be used on metallic surfaces.
  • Capitalize on natural opportunities to hand them out when you're talking about your business or someone asks how to contact you.
  • Don't thrust them upon people uninvited or hand out more than one unless they offer to hand them out for you.

5. Maximize content and usability

You're not limited to the front of your business cards, unless you want to use business magnets. Why not use the back for other info that you want to make available, such as office hours, client list or a small map to your store. Another option is to use a folded business card as a mini brochure.
Keep in mind that people often write on business cards, so leaving some white space on the back is generally a good idea.
Business cards aren't going out of circulation anytime soon. Take full advantage of these bantam business boosters by investing a little time and energy into making them work for you.