They are business cards, and they are your most effective, least expensive form of advertising. You can (and should!) carry them with you day and night, on the ground and in the air. They are always in a presentable format.
Because business cards frequently create your first impression and because they also have permanence, design them with as much detail as you give to your personal image. After all, they represent your corporate image.
The initial image people consciously and unconsciously conjure up about your business card is based on design, colors and stock type and weight.
Use the following guidelines in designing your business card:
1. Make it attractive and pleasing to the eye.
While computers and software packages can make desktop publishers out of almost anybody, there's real merit in hiring an experienced graphic designer to give your card a professional, coordinated look. It can become your winning edge!
2. Include the necessary information.
Today, that translates into a lot of verbiage. It means your name, company name, title, phone, fax and cell numbers, e-mail and web addresses (at least!). This alone often calls for professional talent since so much information has to be arranged in an easily read and understandable manner. Most people call the first number you have listed; therefore, make sure it is your phone number.
3. Use a heavy card stock.
Unless you are using parchment paper, stay away from lightweight stock, especially the kind that will easily run through your printer. My research has shown that people say lightweight cards leave an impression of a business that is temporary and cheap... certainly not building blocks for a new undertaking!
4. Use additional information if you company name is not descriptive of your business.
Since Duoforce Enterprises, Inc., for example, does not describe my training and speaking business, I added "Author. Consultant. Speaker. Trainer." on the bottom 1/4 on my fold-over card. Inside I added my promise to further explain what I do.
5. Use the back of the card, if appropriate.
A doctor, dentist or therapist may want to use it for appointment listings. A motivational speaker can print an inspirational message. A health club can use it as an invitation for a free visit. Anyone can use it as a calendar or as a discount on products or services. I use it to list my products. Don't, however, put information there that is vital to your business like your web site address or e-mail, which I have seen done... ineffectively.
6. Use the front as an enhanced marketing tool.
A photographer friend of mine turns his originals creations into four-color business cards. A gift-basket owner does the same with baskets she has created. Professional speakers and Realtors often include their photos to increase recognition.
7. Stick to the standard size.
Cylinder desktop business card holders are passe. Avoid fancy cutouts. Spend the extra money on design.
In my workshops, I ask people to exchange cards and then answer the following questions. Try the exercise with someone in your network.
- Does your card make a positive first impression?
- Does it tell the nature of your business?
- Does it clearly tell them how to reach you?
- Does it pack a wallop?
One last thing, if you want someone to have your card, the proper etiquette is to ask for his/her card first. And, if the other person doesn't ask for yours in return, I suggest you don't offer it. It's not only what people say that communicates their feelings!
The Chicago Tribune calls her a networking expert and the Association Forum of Chicagoland calls her the business networking authority. Lillian is a speaker, trainer, skills coach and author who helps you building high-value relationships by honing your business development, business networking and communication skills. She's author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last and other products. http://www.duoforce.com