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 Business Card Basics

 Dana Ratcliff

Are you wasting your most versatile marketing tool?  Whether you conduct business on-line or off, there's probably not another weapon in your marketing arsenal that's as affordable, as portable, as versatile, and as readily accepted worldwide as the humble business card.  Business cards are much more than a convenient means to leave contact information.  Today, a business card can be an ad ...; a mini-brochure... a coupon ... a discount card ... even a phone card or CD-rom presentation!  Very often, your business card determines what (if anything!) that your prospect remembers about you after your initial meeting.

First and foremost, your card must be legible (try not to go smaller than 10-point type for your primary information).   The most common mistake in business card design is overcrowding.  Remember, the truly ESSENTIAL information on any card is your name, your company name, and your primary phone number (which should be in bold text, if other numbers are on the card.) Include your email address and website URL if you can, but remember, a card that's too crowded won't be kept or read.

An experienced and reputable printer should also be able to advise you about ways to make your cards more memorable.  Ask your printer about printing vertically, adding a photo of you (or your product), or printing complementary information on the back of your card.  A very effective strategy is to use fold-over cards to create mini-brochures.  You put your customary contact information on the front and back of the folded card, and use the inside to describe your products and primary benefits.

However, what you do with a business card (yours as well as others) has far more to do with the sales you generate than your card design.  Offering your card with both hands, for example, is a simple, no-cost strategy that still creates an enormous psychological impact.  Consider exchanging cards with like-minded entrepreneurs through business networking groups.  Introduce yourself with your card.  Include your card with all correspondence.  Sign your name (or a brief message) on the front of the card.  Tuck your card into related books at the library.  Actively seek out ways to use your cards.

When you receive cards, too, always treat them with respect (how would you feel about doing business with someone who didn't even glance at your card, but just crammed it into their pants pocket?)  Jot notes on the back of cards you're given, such as date, event, common interests, physical characteristics of the giver, type of information you need to send, etc.  Develop a system for carrying and collecting business cards, and file them the way you remember them (by company name, person's name, or industry.)  Then, follow up and stay in touch.  You'll reap the rewards.


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