Design Your Business Cards So They Help You Continue “Selling” To Your Prospects After You Leave

Why Are YOU “Really” In Business?

“I wanted to be an editor or a journalist, I wasn’t really interested in being an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going” – Richard Branson

If you are a true entrepreneur, you will know that to succeed, it helps that you enter a line of business that you naturally enjoy, and would gladly do even if you did not get paid(as tends to happen during start up). The truth however is that you are(I hope) in business to make money in a manner that is profitable – which will in turn enable you stay in THAT business you enjoy, for the long term. To achieve the foregoing purpose, you will need to do cost-effective and results-focused business marketing. One very important – but I believe grossly underutilised tool – for doing that is the Business Card.

I discuss in this article how you as a business owner, can better design your own business cards, to significantly improve your ability to market yourself to those who really need your services and/or products.

Marketing is about creating an impression – a positive impression – in the mind of your intended customer – that YOU or YOUR BUSINESS are more capable of meeting his/her perceived need or want than any others. The more successful you are in creating this impression about yourself/business in the mind of your target audience, the greater the chances that they will choose you over others who may offer the same products and/or services you do. This in effect means, you will be better able to achieve your major business goal of making MORE money, MORE profitably.

This Article Is Meant MAINLY For Non-Employees

Just before I continue, I wish to make the following clarification. The ideas I offer here are mainly for use by self-employed individuals (independent contractors, consultants, entrepreneurs/business owners) – i.e. people who are their own bosses and therefore take decisions that affect how their company is perceived or operates.

For those who work as employees in companies, it is likely that decisions about the type and design of business cards used will be taken with considerations relevant to the company’s preferred mode of operation and business vision. I will therefore only say that persons who fall into this latter category, if they find what I say here of potential usefulness to their organisation(e.g. sales/marketing personnel) explore the possibility of bringing it to the attention of appropriate decision makers for consideration.

Is There A Rule Book For Business Card Design?

I am not aware of any rule book that actually spells out what information or details should or should not be on a business card: But if you know of any, I would appreciate your sending me a note about where to find it. 🙂

It appears instead, that most people seem to have come to some tacit agreement on the most relevant pieces of information and features to adorn their cards with. Or maybe they just adopted what they found others doing when they entered into business for themselves. Either way, the point I’m making is that I believe each person needs to try and design a business card that works for him/her.

What Does The Conventional Business Card “Say”?

What I would call the conventional business card typically contains information that “says” the following(in addition to some graphics such as a logo, or artistic effects for aestetic appeal):

1. Who you are: Your name/title/business name, and possible qualifications that lend credence to your claims.

2. Contact Info: Phone numbers, postal/physical address, web URL/email(you do have these don’t you?).

3. A Tag Line: Punchy phrase about your biz. BUT will these help achieve your purpose?

But the question could be asked: Does the conventionally designed business card work as well as it could be made to? I say NO. I say NO. In fact, after thinking about this issue, I have come to the conclusion that one word best describes the conventional business card – and that’s “Passive”. It’s contents are not designed to be response-generating or action-inducing. I however believe one can adopt a card design that is more “Active” — hence my efforts at finding an alternative that works, which eventually led to this article being written.

I have always been a bit of a non-conformist – with a penchant for “playing devil’s advocate”, “rocking the boat”, “stirring things up” etc in a bid to challenge others to re-evaluate accepted norms for possible refinement – or total replacement. 🙂 If I find that the status quo does not offer me what I consider optimal returns towards achievement of a set goal(s), I immediately begin exploring alternative options to adopt, till I find something that gives me the results I want.

Based on the above, the question, for me – as a performance enhancement advocate – on the issue of business cards and how to get the most value from them is: What information do business persons NEED to put on their business cards, to help them MORE successfully achieve their intended purpose for handing such cards out to prospects ?

By the way, with a few possible exceptions, I assume here that the reader – like most people who give out business cards – does so because s/he expects that the cards will further impress(or remind) the recipients to make contact at a later date in relation to the product or service discussed. In my view the business cards many business persons give out are not properly equipped to achieve the full marketing impact potential they possess. Business cards, I believe, can be designed to play a more active – even though silent – role in the marketing and/or selling process.

Think about it this way. Someone you speak with about your work could say “Can I have your card?”, possibly because your conversation is interesting enough to them, that they want to be able to contact you at a later date to take it further. However, whether or not you do end up closing a sale with that person could depend on what your card “says”(if at all it has anything to say) to him/her AFTER you’ve parted ways.

Now, if s/he runs into ANOTHER person who “appears” to offer something similar to what you told him/her you could, s/he might just give that OTHER person the job. But if your card is THE type that “tells”(or reminds) her about specific unique benefits you provide that the OTHER person may not be able to match, s/he is likely to tell the other seller “NO”, and come back to you. I say the foregoing here on the assumption that you do actually have a Unique Selling Proposition(USP).

In essence, my argument is that business owners can do a little more thinking to MAKE MORE OBVIOUS, the TANGIBLE BENEFITS they offer, which prospective – and existing – clients would find attractive, and therefore be willing to take ACTION to get. The business owners can then highlight those benefits in form of keywords and phrases on their business cards. Such business cards would subsequently have a greater marketing “impact” on those who receive them, increasing the chances of the prospects making contact at a later date.

A Comparative Analysis Of Two Similar Restaurants With Different “Sales Pitches”

Let’s do a little comparative analysis. Say it’s 12.30pm and you are driving on a major highway to the next city to do a presentation scheduled for 2.00pm. If you keep driving at the same speed, you estimate you should get into the city in another thirty minutes, leaving you just enough time to check into “Clear View International Hotel”, take a shower, change clothes and move into the conference hall on the ground hall of the hotel where the presentation will hold. But you are feeling a bit thirsty and hungry, and worry that there might not be enough time to quickly order something to eat at the hotel(Please bear with me: for some reason, I could not think up a better “excuse” :-)).

Suddenly you get to a junction and notice road signs for two different fast food outlets poisitioned next to each other. For the purpose of this example, we assume that both places actually offer equally quick services and more or less the same variety of foods and drinks. The difference is in the way they describe – on their road signs – what they offer the prospect(traveller), who needs to make up his/her mind.

One sign says “Quik-Caterers! Get Our Quik Travel Meals & Drinks Pack(TM). Wait Max 15 Mins – Or We Pay!”. The other says “Welcome To Jazzy Jaff’s Fast Foods Restaurant And Bar”.

You will agree with me that if many travellers – who are in a hurry – had to decide which fast food restaurant to stop at, they would pick “Quik Caterers” – not because the name sounds better, or more appropriate, but most likely because their road sign offers MORE information – using catchy keywords/phrases – about TANGIBLE BENEFITS the prospective customers can relate to.

Customers are likely to PERCEIVE that “Quik-Catering” is more capable of meeting their NEEDS than “Jazzy Jaff’s”. Now, imagine the information said to be on the road signs(or some of it) is used on business cards given out by the respective owners of the two restaurants. Chances are that Quik-Catering MD’s business card would raise more eyebrows, and probably result in one or two additional queries or comments to him/her(regarding the service described) – creating “openings” for sales conversations to take place.

Look at it this way: Wouldn’t you be curious to know(and test?) if Quick-Catering could really deliver on its Wait Max 15 Mins – Or We Pay! promise? It’s an attractive – though unusual – offer, but if Quik-Catering only put it on flyers placed on the drinks counter in the restaurant(and not on the road sign or on business cards), less people would get to know about it and stop over.

What Does Your Business Card “Need To Say”?

A business card that keeps “selling” you to your prospect long after you’re gone, needs to say what you do in a way that makes those fitting your customer/client profile more likely to realize they actually NEED your product(s) and/or service(s).

You can design your business cards such that they cut down the amount of “work” you need to do to generate potentially valuable sales leads. This is particularly important because many times we come across people who qualify to be our “perfect customers or clients” in first time meeting situations that do not permit lengthy discussions or interactions. So, often times we end up using an elevator speech, answering one or two questions that arise from it, then exchanging business cards.

Some days later, the executive you gave your card to(and who at the same event went on to receive not less than four additional ones from “others like you”), sits in his/her office staring at your card. Among other things, s/he may struggle to recall where/when during that cocktail dinner s/he met you, and what again it was you said you could do for him/her that sounded so good!

This kind of dilemma faces many people who receive the conventional cards I earlier described. Of course s/he sees on the card that you are a CPA, or Certified Coach etc. What s/he does not see on THAT type of card is something(keywords, phrase etc) to help him/her see or recall the “slant” in your offering that sets you apart from others who may offer anything like you do. The result? S/he puts the card back in the desk drawer(or worse: the round filing cabinet – aka “Waste Paper Bin”) and (probably) forgets it. Why? Because s/he cannot find a compelling enough reason to take the relationship further by giving you a call.

Think back to the two fast food restaurant signs comparison I did earlier and imagine you are a decision maker for a large company that’s trying to choose a caterer to supply snacks to be served at their Annual General Meeting. Looking at the business cards given to you by the MD of Quik-Catering and that of Jazzy Jaff’s, all other factors being fairly constant, you are likely to get the “impression” that Quik-Catering will be able to meet your needs more readily, because they sound (from what they say on their road signs and business cards) that they’re already thinking along the lines of proving the value YOU seek.

What It Could Look Like: A business card that “sells” you looks different from any your prospect has seen, and creates a lasting impression that sets you apart from the crowd. You can print your information on the front – and leave the back blank, or print on both sides. From testing various designs, I have found that it is useful to leave some blank space on the back for writing answers to “Date We Met?”, “Where We Met?”, “Notes/Comments” etc prompts that are printed on it.

Actually Jeffery Meyer([http://www.succeedinginbusiness.com]) suggests that you write answers to the earlier listed prompts on the back of cards you get from others – so YOU can remember them, and what they are about. I have taken it a step further and designed cards that let me, “the giver”, write that information on the back of cards(which I take with me, as Meyer advises, to important meetings/events) I’m giving out, so as to “help” my prospects remember ME.

Click here to view a web page showing images of sample business card designs that incorporate the features I have discussed in this article(I also offer a FREE downloadable copy of the Corel Draw template I used to create them). Incidentally, my business cards have sort of “evolved” over time as I played around with the ideas I had – until I settled for a particular design/layout. You may also find it useful to let your creativity loose so as to arrive at the best design for your work.

A Business Card That Works Will Help You Market More Effectively & Efficiently

Jeffery Meyer once wrote that to avoid the “feast-famine” syndrome that can plague a business which fails to ensure steady inflow of new work, one must continually search for new customers – and “weed out” hopeless prospects who cost you marketing effort, time and expense, but give you no jobs. For instance, he advises that you take the repeated non-return of your phone calls by a prospect as a sign that s/he does not feel a compelling need for your product or service. Instead, divert that marketing energy and expense towards recruiting NEW prospects.

I believe a business card with the right balance of USP information and aesthetic appeal, can help a business owner use his/her business marketing time/effort more effectively and efficiently. This is because s/he will be able to use the card to create opportunities for discussions about useful benefits of the products and services s/he sells, in a way that will impress a prospective client or customer who happens to be looking for such returns.

It is true that “buyers” tend to be undecided when considering a purchase, but when the “seller” points out the USP s/he offers, AND IF they coincide with the buyer’s felt needs, the buyer can become quite “sure” of what s/he wants, to the point that other “sellers” would be unable to influence him/her. Think about some products or services that many people use year in and year out(inspite of the presence of many competing brands), and you will find that they do so because certain needs they consider important are being met through the continued use of those products and services.

Designing your business card the way I describe is more likely to result in the card continuing to “sell” you to a prospect, even after you’ve parted ways with him/her. The card – each time s/he looks at it – will through its contents remind him/her that you offer THAT unique benefit s/he wants or needs. Of course not everyone you give your card to, will call you back to give you work! Life itself is about percentages. So, what I am saying is that a higher percentage of those you give out your cards to, are likely to get a better understanding of what you can do for them(or for someone they know), and so call(or recommend you). You’ll consequently get more sales leads, and/or opportunities to close more sales.

Your Cards Cost Money – Aim To Get A Return On Your Investment In Each!

Print Them Cost-Effectively: I believe most individuals who work for themselves might find it more useful to design and print their own business cards in the quantities they require them. Due to the unpredictability of business generally, one or more bits of information on the card you use may change in a way that will make it necessary for you to re-print another set. If you already have thousands of cards printed, and suddenly discover a need to re-print, all the money spent producing the obsolete set would effectively go down the drain.

You can avoid this. If you have a template setup in Corel Draw to print ten standard size business cards on an A4 sized embossed card paper, for instance(and have used colors economically in the design) your home/office printer should be able to generate a set of cards for your use over a few weeks at a time. As your business operations grow, and you become more certain for the long term about the information you have to put on the cards, you may be able to more safely produce larger quantities of cards.

Think Before Giving Them Out: Considering that you would want the cards you give out to have a pleasing appearance, that complements the USP information printed on them, one expects they will not be “cheap” to produce. That’s why you may want to make sure every one you give out counts.

If you can form the habit of thinking of your business card units in monetary terms(each of mine costs approximately $0.143 US Dollars equivalent), it might help you decide whether or not to put it in an envelope to just about anyone you’re mailing something to, even when you don’t know who they are or what they do. That would be like shooting in the dark – only this time you would be doing so, with MONEY!

If I send out twenty five letters in envelopes to different prospects for instance, and put a card in each, I know it implies I have spent at least $3.575 US Dollars(aside from the cost of envelopes, paper, stamps etc).

Business marketing yields better results when properly targeted at the right audience. You could for instance staple your business cards, to letters you are sending out to CEOs of certain organisations you hope will find your products and services potentially useful. Every time I want to give out a card, I ask myself: Am I sure this is going to help me get increased marketing exposure for my work, that could lead to more business? You might want to ask yourself a similar question periodically.

ONE LAST THING: Read Michel Fortin’s Ten Commandments E-book

What I have proposed in this article will require anyone who wishes to try out my ideas to re-visit his/her business concepts and philosophies with a view to distilling the “value” s/he is truly capable of delivering to customers. To do this successfully, I want to seriously suggest you download and READ Michel Fortin’s “Ten Commandments of Power Positioning” e-book.

Visit his website at http://www.successdoctor.com and learn how you can get a copy of his excellent e-book(I got mine about 4 years ago). It offers many very practical and tested ideas about how you can market yourself or business more effectively to customers, so that they see you as their preferred provider of your product and/or service range.

To accurately define keywords and phrases that best capture the VALUE you can deliver to your customers, the “Divide and Conquer” concept described by Fortin in his e-book, when properly applied, will help you arrive at the most appropriate ones. Fortin also provides practical real-world relevant tips for crafting YOUR OWN tag lines and elevator speeches; developing press kits etc.

Read that e-book(I actually printed mine out and had it sprial bound) from first to last page as many times as you need to fully understand it, and try applying what you learn to your business through the exercises suggested. By the time you are done, you will know what to say about your business(and also HOW to say it) in your speech, and on any of your business marketing media such as business cards, signs, flyers, letterheads, website etc.

Question: How will you judge whether it’s working or not?

Answer: (1). If more prospects make contact with you as a result of your re-vamped business marketing – which incorporates your re-designed business cards – THAT will be evidence that it’s working. (2). When your newly acquired clients/customers continue to patronise you and DO NOT express any regrets for doing so(by way of product returns or unwillingness to give referrals/repeat business), THAT would reasonably suggest they are satisfied you deliver the value you “promise”.

Hire Reliable Business Card Printing Companies For The Most Appropriate Card Design

The business card is considered an effective way to promote a business. In today’s time, when every business has to face a tough competition, it is overly essential to reach out to your target customers and make them aware of your services and products. Having your own visiting card can help your customers remember your services and contact you whenever they want to. There are various reputed business card printing companies to help you design and print cards that would be appropriately customized in accordance with your business requirements.

Some of the various advantages of using trading cards as an effective advertising strategy. Let us discuss in brief how it can help you in reaching out to customers and thus promote your business:

The greatest benefit of using business cards is that they are small in size and can be carried anywhere with convenience. You can carry your trading card with you at all times and give them to your target customers whenever needed.
Business cards come at reasonable prices and can be almost equally effective in promoting your business as other expensive advertising strategies.
It is found that people are less prone to throwing away trading cards than flyers, leaflets or brochures. Visiting cards seem to be with people for a longer time. And whenever they look at the visiting card they would be reminded about your business and services.

However, in order to make your business card effective and impressive, it is important for you to keep in mind certain important aspects:

It is important to avoid a printing service that offers template designs for your trading card. It is always beneficial to hire a company that can efficiently design a business card that would represent your business messages in the most unique way. Every business has individual values and principles that need to be conveyed to the customers in an appropriate manner. A good printing company should be able to design and print your trading card exclusively for you.

In case of an online printing service, it is important that you check their previous records before hiring them. You can check their website for customer reviews, testimonials and feedbacks. This helps in preventing any future disappointments.

Always try to keep the messages on your visiting card brief, simple and attractive. Writing too many things on the card should be avoided.

Decide on an attractive and appropriate logo for your company. This is the first thing that your customers would notice in your trading card. The logo helps in creating an identity for your business that your customers can relate to whenever they see the logo somewhere.

Choosing the right design and color for your business card is important. It can be a wise idea to choose a color and design that would reflect the theme and message of your business.

Including certain special features on your trading card can be highly beneficial to create an impression on your customers, such as UV coating, lamination, embossing, etc. These features help in providing your card an exclusive look and also distinguish them from other business cards.

How To Choose An Online Business Card Printer

It’s gotten way too confusing to order business cards online. How do you choose a business card printer when there seem to be millions of them competing for your business?

Shopping for business card printing online is like shopping for any other product – your goal is to find what you what, for a reasonable price, from a reputable dealer. The problem when buying business cards online is making sure you’re comparing apples to apples, as the saying goes.

Finding the Business Cards You Want

Your first task is to find an online business card printer who carries the type of business card you want. Most online business card printers offer full-color business cards in a standard size (3″ by 2.5″), so a simple search for “business cards” or “business card printing” will find those.

You will need to decide whether to use custom artwork for your business card or one of the pre-designed backgrounds or templates offered by many business card printers. Again, many online business card printers allow you to order business cards either way.

Don’t be put off by the idea of using backgrounds that are available to everyone else; odds are slim that any of your direct competitors will find and use the same background. And these are professionally done designs that flat-out make you look good to prospects. (Much better than a homemade business card!)

If you need different cards, such as die-cut business cards or embossed (raised print) business cards, those are also easy to find using your favorite search engine. Many business card printers offer more than one type of card – raised print, one-color or full-color, for example. Some even offer magnetic cards, sticker cards and more.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re looking for full color business cards.

Paying a Reasonable Price for Business Cards

Business cards are the bargain buy of the marketing world, but comparison-shopping for business cards can be a nightmare. It’s not enough to compare style and price of business cards between printers (say, 1000 full-color cards, printed on one side – 4/0).

Besides the style and price, you also should compare:

the thickness of the card stock (a 14pt card is sturdier than a 10pt card);
whether or not a protective coating is included in the price (and which type – a card can be “glossy” without having the protection of UV coating, and UV coating is generally considered more desirable than aqueous coating);
whether or not there are extra charges, such as a fee to upload your own images;
how many (or how few) business cards you can order at a time;
shipping costs; and, last but not least;
the reputation of the business card printing company.

Finding a Reputable Business Card Printer

Online business card printers who’ve made it to the top of the search engines, and stayed there, are generally okay – but not necessarily.

In fact, one popular, high-ranking business card printer online has such a pattern of complaints that they’ve received an “Unsatisfactory” rating from the Better Business Bureau. (This company’s cards are also of substandard size, although it’s hard to tell unless you directly compare them with another business card.)

So one guideline is to look for a designation such as Better Business Bureau approval or Bizrate certification. If a company has won such a designation, they’ll probably mention it somewhere on their website. Testimonials are another clue – but it isn’t hard to find a dozen happy people out of thousands of customers, so read them with a grain of salt.

Another way to assess a business card printer is to request samples of their business cards – not only will you get to examine actual cards, but you’ll get a feel for their customer service as well.

One Last Complication

Did you know that many, if not most, of the business card printers on the web are dealers for two or three huge wholesale business card printing companies? That’s right – you spend all that time shopping for the right business card printer and you probably don’t realize you’re comparing identical cards.

(You usually can’t tell until you reach the section of the website where you actually choose and edit a business card template or background – the URL will change.)

Now there’s nothing wrong with these online business card dealers, many of whom add value by educating people about business cards, just as I do, and nothing wrong with the business cards. But knowing that many business card printers online offer the exact same cards should save you some comparison time!

Given the affordability, portability and versatility of business cards, it is certainly worth taking time to shop around for the right business card printer for your business. And now that you understand some of the differences, you’ll make a more informed decision when you next go looking for a business card printer on the Internet.

Business Cards – Essential Marketing Tools For Your Business

Your business card is one of the most important, cost-effective and versatile marketing tools you have. How come? Because they’re inexpensive, easy to carry with you and easy to get in front of people. Especially for businesses just starting out.

However, your card needs to make a great impression. A well-designed business card can effectively promote your business, but there’s a good chance that if your card looks unprofessional, it may be thrown in the dustbin or just lie in a drawer, collecting dust. Your business card needs to tell people what you and your business is about, instead of only telling people who you are and where to contact you.

Planning, designing and having your cards printed.

For your business card to be the marketing tool it should be, there are a few things you must take into consideration when planning and designing your cards.

Get professional quality business cards printed for you. Sure, you could print them on your laser jet and cut them with scissors. You’ll get what you pay for and worse than that, people will question whether they can trust you with their business if it seems you can’t afford to print full colour business cards.
Pay attention to the finer details on your card. A logo is important, so invest some time and effort in the design of your logo to make it stand out in the crowd.
A thin, flimsy card, pre-made, off the shelf design and small or unreadable text makes a bad impression. Use colour and images for impact and good design principles to make your business card pleasing and easy to read.
Be proactive and keep your information up to date. If any of your contact or other information has changed, you will appear to be disorganized when you have to scratch out and write new information on your card, so throw away those cards and have new, up to date ones printed.
If possible hire a graphic designer to help you. They are professional and know what works and what does’nt.
Maximize the usability of your card. You’re not limited to only the front of your business cards. Use the back of your card for more information. Keep in mind that people often write on business cards, so leaving some white space on the back is generally a good idea.
Your company name or your title tells someone what you have to offer. If it does’nt, add some words to explain what you do. Showing what you do makes you stand out. Let everyone who sees your card know what services you provide.
Avoid making the following mistakes when you have your cards made. It can cost you dearly.

Having a card that doesn’t stand out in the crowd.

Your card must look great, feel sturdy and clearly define what your business does – and you and your card will be remembered.

Technology makes it easier and more affordable than ever to have cards designed and printed that will get someone’s attention and at the same time look businesslike and appealing.

Don’t have a card that’s a mystery to everybody.

You are not going to get many calls if someone looks at your business card and can’t tell immediately what your business does.

A card with information overload.

Too much information printed on your card will make it look too busy and totally unprofessional. Keeping it simple is best. It’s necessary to have your name, your company, what you do, and why you should be used – but supply all your contact details; you want to be easy to reach.

Using too small text.

Using a small font, you may be able to supply more information, but what good is it if people can’t read it? A good guideline is to use a type size no smaller than 7-8 point. Make your company name the largest and your name and maybe your cell number a bit larger than the rest.

Not using colour properly.

Use colour in your cards to brighten them up and make them appealing. Avoid printing a dark colour on a darkish background or a light colour on a light background, for instance printing grey on white to make it look like silver. It just does’nt work.

Strategically distributing your cards to help your marketing campaign.What does it help you to have a box full of business cards if they’re not being used to market and promote your business?

Always keep some of your cards on you wherever you go. Hand a card to someone when appropriate, and while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to give out more than one. Invite people to pass the extras along to others who might need your service. You might be surprised at how often this can result in a referral.

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 a hardware store if you’re a building contractor or a plumber.

Capitalize on natural opportunities to hand them out when you’re talking about your business or someone asks how to contact you.

Keeping in mind all of the above ideas and information, your business card will definitely work for you and attract business – and still at a very affordable price.

Tom Meintjes (pronounced mainkiss) http://business-cards.za.net

Is your business card a good salesman? Does your business card shout at your client? “HEY YOU, PICK ME UP AND CONTACT MY OWNER!” Does your customer have a reason to pick up, look at and hold onto this important marketing tool?

As in any competitive market, the first goal of any of your marketing tools is not information, the first goal is to grab attention, and then provide information. Business card designs are important. A well designed, professional looking full colour card is always picked up, remembered and will stand out between other cards.