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From Steven Fisher and RulesForBusiness.com comes the 2010 edition of his popular presentation, 10 Rules for Killer Business Cards. You can find more content and other business rules at www.rulesforbusiness.com
I have been to a lot of networking events in my life and I am sure you have as well. In fact, we here at one right now. The one common element of going to these things is swapping business cards and collecting them for entry into the address book and then the trash…maybe you just skip to throwing them into the trash which is why I felt compelled to give you these 10 Rules for Killer Business Cards.When you work at a big company you are kind of constrained with their corporate standard. As an entrepreneur, your business card is your brand, your elevator pitch and your first impression. So WHY OH WHY do people not take enough time or invest a little money in creating good ones.Sure, some people think they have great business cards because they are more about creating memorable impact and not communicating any information but they have it all wrong.
So, shall we get started?
Rule #1 – Tell me what you do. Quickly.Business cards are supposed to have the usual information – name, address, e-mail, title, phone, company name. To make some real impact, you should use the space on the front of the card to have a single statement below your company name that is your main marketing message. For example “Next Generation in Sales Software” let’s me know you are innovative, provide sales software and are a tech company. Simple.You can also use the back of the card for this too but don’t jam it full of sentences or a big paragraph. You don’t have to put your whole web site on your business card. 2-3 sentences at most and it should build on the marketing message you have on the front. You can also use the back for the marketing message itself to change it up a bit. On other important point - We need to read it from first glance and not grab a magnifying glass. 11-point font at a minimum, 12 and 13 is better.
8 – Cool because the whole band can use it and you can buy in bulk
Rule #2 – Include the Ways You Want to Be ContactedEven though you shouldn’t jam your web site on to your business card, you should have your web site address on there. Include social media contact points likeyou Twitter handle Facebook URL or Skype username. This let’s people know how to contact you and with social media contact info shows that you are current with the marketplace.
Rule #3 – Don’t Use Your Personal e-Mail address.Do I really have to explain this one? Nothing says “amateur” than using a Yahoo/Hotmail/AOL/Gmail e-mail address as your main address. I mean come on, a domain name doesn’t cost much these days and usually a hosted e-mail account is also inexpensive. Unfortunately, the biggest perpetrators are usually those trying to be “consultants” but have a day job and this is their side thing or they are just starting out and haven’t talked to one person about marketing.With all the new laid off workers becoming “unintentional entrepreneurs”, they are doing the consulting thing. This is an excellent way to show that you are in it to win and build a business. I do make an exception if it is your personal business card and you are using it to find a job. Still, I would recommend that you get your own domain, like your name, and put your CV up there and market yourself in the same way.
Rule #4 – You Can Be Cool, But Be Relevant to Your AudienceNow I work in the tech industry and there is a broad spectrum of business card styles in just this one sector. For example, interactive design firms have more funky, fun designs because they have to communicate they are hip and creative. Startup firms are generally all over the board because some people spend money and others don’t which is just stupid since many people don’t know who you are. Many big government contractors have very conservative cards, but that is to be expected. In other industries, law firms and financial services companies like clean and professional to show that they somewhat conservative and will treat you well. So the lesson here is keep within the expectations of what your competitors are doing but do it with a little flair if you want, just not overboard.
Rule #5 – Business Cards are Great Promos but Promos Don’t Make Great Business Cards.Have you seen some of the radically cool business cards out there? Some are off the charts and are totally memorable. There is only one problem. They aren’t really business cards. They are promotional items disguised as business cards. Most people need the basic info and not a 3X4 card that folds into an airplane that they can aim right at the trashcan. They don’t need a rubberized business card from you that they have to stretch to find a phone number especially when you are personal trainer and point out to your potential customer they are not even strong enough to know your phone number.You can have some great promos that really extend your brand and show people. Just understand the difference.
This can work
This can work too
Ok, interesting and clever
Why. Just, why?
Killing the Ordinary
Killing Your Clients
Rule #6 – Make It Scannable.If you get lots of business cards these days, you probably use a business card scanner or your assistant does. For many people, if it can’t scan they will usually toss it instead of typing everything in manually. This is the risk you will run using the more funky and edgy types of cards. Hence, you are warned.
7 or 9
Rule #7 – Have an Area on the Card Where You Can Write a Note On itDo two things – first, write on your card the thing you talked about so they remember you. You don’t want to hope they do this themselves because they probably won’t. Plus, it makes the card personalized and worth keeping.Second, before you part company, always make a note on the back of their business card — a Web site they have mentioned, a topic you discussed or even a sales opportunity. You will have something to reference when you email them later and it shows you listened and actually care about them.
Rule #8 – Avoid Glossy or Weird MaterialsWhen I meet you I am usually trying to understand what you do and how you might become a client, a partner or a vendor. Like I mentioned in Rule #7, after I finish talking with you I usually write a note on the back of the card so I can keep the e-mail to you in context and have something to discuss. The glossy cards, and I have been guilty of this one, don’t work for writing on and they usually cost you more anyway. The other side of the spectrum is what I call “the hippie cards” and are usually made of some weird “save the planet” material that is impossible to write on as well. Stick with normal paper, it will serve you well.Still, if you have an urge to create a funky business card, make it your second one to have impact or be gimmicky but have the main one as the one people will scan or save to contact you. They might save both but at least they have the one that they will scan and save for later.
Rule #9 – Use a Professional Printer. No, Your LaserJet Does NOT Count.For those of us that remember dot-matrix printers and doing our term papers with them it really couldn’t compare to the LaserJet that your parents had at the office that was all sorts of sexy. If you were able to get them to print the term paper out for you at work (if you didn’t wait until the night before) it looked awesome and might give you a couple of extra points for a good grade. Same thing here. Now everyone has color a LaserJet and thinks they are a print shop. Not so fast dude.This is where professional printers are worth their weight in gold and will make your beautiful design look fantastic on the right card stock. Think about it. You spent a lot of money on a logo and design and you print it yourself? I don’t think so.There are many great small business print shops out there that would love your business. If your budget can’t afford them, then I would suggest looking at sites like VistaPrint who let you upload a design image for both sides of your business card and they are extremely affordable.
Rule #10 – Give Out Two CardsI am sure you have been at a networking event and had a great conversation with them. Wouldn’t it be great if they could refer you to a colleague or their boss too? Well, give them another card and tell them why you are doing it. They might think it was an accident. Don’t be cheesy about this one. Just say, “I want you to keep my card since I wrote that note on it but if you know someone that I should talk to OR would like to pass this on to your boss I would like to give you two cards”. They almost always say yes and you will be surprised when you get that first call and someone says “so and so gave me your card and said I should call you”.
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