So you handed out a dozen business cards at that networking event last night……
…..and so did 50 other professionals and business owners – including 4 others who do precisely what you do in your business or practice.
I know– you hope that those nice people you had conversations with will remember you if a possible referral opportunity arises,
or that they will want to invite you to a follow up meeting,
or that they will remember where to find your card among that mess of cards on their desk or in their top drawer.
Now, as one of these nice new contacts is shoving a bunch of business cards in his top drawer he does notice one of the cards, takes a second look, and dashes off an email to the owner.
Was that card your card??
I Did A Business Card Experiment…. (tweet this)
Recently, I pulled a random stack of business cards from my business card file. I have mine organized by event and group so I pulled a few from each group, shuffled them, then fanned them out. I picked 5 that caught my eye from the corners that were visible.
Then I reviewed them to see if I could answer these questions:
I would refer this person if…….
I would call this person if…….
I would meet this person because……
In 4 out of the 5 cases, I couldn’t answer these questions from what I saw on their business card.
I can honestly say that in 3 out of the 5 cases I wouldn’t consider contacting the person because of how silly or busy or confusing or vague their business card was.
A great business card is a must if you want to optimize your business. (tweet this)
When I started my business over a decade ago, I resisted investing in a really good branding/logo professional. Big mistake – I wish I had done this sooner. Here is what a good branding person created for me. The top image is the front, the bottom image is the back. (I’ve had Fortune 500 CEO’s comment on how much they liked this card- and they’ve seen a few business cards 🙂
At the time, live networking, this business card, and speaking engagements were the 3 main ways I built a thriving multi-six-figure business. I’ve since changed my business name and focus but I still use many of the same elements in my current business card based on the success of that one. (I’ll show it to you in a minute).
I realize that if you are an employee in a company or a firm, you may be locked into the design and format your organization company dictates. But, you may have the liberty of adding some text to further denote special areas of expertise or distinction. Why not ask?
If you are a business owner or a service professional, it is essential that you have a business card that appeals to the right people and demonstrates the right message and image.
Today, most business cards are bad – and are not helping you get the business you deserve.
The 5 Ways To Turn A Bad Business Card Into A Great One (tweet this)
So what are the key elements of a good business card, one that works for you not against you?
I’ll boil it down to these 5 critical factors:
1. Attention Getting – The first thing you want to do is capture someone’s attention. So the visuals of the card should be distinctive, appealing, memorable and tell the reader that who you are is right for them on an image/branding basis. If there is something at the perimeter of the card that can be memorable, so much the better because it will stand out in a stack (mine was that deep blue triangle at the top left corner).
Now you can be the best lawyer in the world but if your card looks cheesy or mundane or unprofessional, you will either be overlooked or dismissed. And why wouldn’t you at least have your area of specialization on the card? I looked at 10 lawyers’ business cards. Only 1 in 10 said what kind of law they practiced! Six months from now, when I need a lawyer, I’ll have no idea if I should call you or not.
2. Clear Brand and Image Positioning – Your positioning should include distinctive and branding visuals (logos, colors, fonts, and arrangement of info) that express the right image to appeal to your selected target market.
3.Your positioning should include some brief language to identify what makes you distinctive. This could be a tag line or even a brief one line elevator speech. I highly prefer tag line that is short, powerful, clear.
4. Solutions. Your business card should express a “what’s in it for me” element so people understand the solutions you provide, not just what you do.
5.Readable Finally, and I know this should go without saying, your contact info should be legible and complete.
After doing my business card audit, here are my
Top 10 Biggest Business Card Botches
1. Boring or bad visuals– ex. the card looks like thousands of others and gets lost among the many. At the other end of the spectrum, the information is on a dark background so it’s hard to read or scan information in.
2. Too much information jammed into too small a space – you are trying to get every last piece of information about you, your business, every market you serve, every service you provide. This becomes overwhelming and a turnoff.
3. Cheap paper – cheap paper or home-made cards look like it and diminishes you and your business or practice. Good paper can make even the simplest of graphics look appealing. You get what you pay for.
4. No WIIFM– Not enough clarity or information about purpose or solutions provided. (No WIIFM). Share one powerful line about the benefits you provide but make sure this is clear to readers. Cutesy is confusing, not compelling.
One business card I read says the person’s name and the tag line: “The CEO’s best friend.” This is a perfect example of someone trying to be cute and clever and giving the reader absolutely no idea of what he does or why this is so helpful to CEO’s.
5. Illegible Font– Just because you get all the contact info on the card doesn’t mean people can read it – either the type is too light or not large enough. Show the proof to a few people to make sure people can easily read your pertinent information.
6. Poor Verbage – too cutesy or unclear. I’ve already said what I need to say on this. Work with a good branding person on this if marketing messaging is not your thing. It’s well worth it.
7. Missing Website Information – If you don’t have a website, in today’s marketplace, this stands out like a sore thumb. Just have at least one professionally designed landing page online so you can send people there, and as a back up make sure you have a well-crafted Linked In profile.
8. Generic Email Address (not at a business address). When people see a business email address that is @aol.com, @yahoo.com, or @gmail.com this screams lack of professionalism. People immediately form an impression that this is not a substantial business. Register a professional url so that you can have an email address on your business card that points to your business online.
9. Non-Standard Size or Weird Shape of Card. – While I recommend you to have a card that is memorable and distinctive, card shape or size that is too big, small, or complicated, like a folded one, causes more problems than benefits. This is because you want people to be able to easily store your card in a card folder and more importantly you want people to be able to scan your information into their contact management system easily. Non-standard card shapes are problematic in both respects. Be creative in other ways like logo, font, or tag lines.
10. Poor organization of information on the card. When you put information on your business card in hard- to read ways, you make people tune out. Clean, easy-to-read organization is best. By the way, this leads to the question about using front and back of the business card. What I like about this method is you can put your branding and image front and forward. But if you use this approach, I recommend using all contact info on one side only. This way you still make it easy to scan contact information into a contact management system.
1. Get a good branding/logo professional to help you develop a smart logo and look for your branding. This is money well spent.
2. Get a great tag line – short, memorable, clearly explaining your product or service.
3. Use fine paper. Good paper can make even ordinary graphics extraordinary.
4. Color can make or break the look of your card. Do a little reading on the psychology of color when choosing your branding colors. Then when you use them on your card make sure they don’t distract from readability.
5. Less is more.
So here’s my business card today: (Unfortunately, you can’t see the depth of color in this image)
I still like the former one better, but I borrowed some of the best elements from the original. Today, I also have social media logos to let people how they can find me on social media.
Remember, the networking event is over, but your business card and your business identity, or lack of it, lives on.
Want your business card reviewed?
I’ll review the first 10 people who send me their card. Just scan and forward with an email to me, email@example.com, and Business Card Review in the subject line!
Thanks for these great tips Nancy – the best advice is often obvious – afterward one reads it!
I have to agree with you; although the first card was a little word heavy, it still has more character than the second.
I also notice you changed colouring; was this another decision to upgrade your colour-coding?
Maybe third time lucky?
Thanks Denyse. Yes, if I had to do it over again on version 1 I would have reduced some text.
Yes, changed color when rebranded. Very conscious decision to change to color that represented the market and the brand using color psychology.
Wait until you see what we’re working on for 2013.
How about you and your business card?
Great post, NANCY, you forgot to identify your graphic designer, who should get some credit, here. Will you share? I could use one for my upcoming book.
Thanks Jan. I would have loved to share my designer’s name with everyone. It breaks my heart to say this but she passed away two years ago.
Her name was Merrilee Camme. Brilliant!
I have just found a new branding designer and am working with her for my new look..
Want to test her out before recommending.
Stand by everyone.
Thanks for great article. Although previous card was a bit wordy, I prefer layout and colors. Possibly the psycological properties of blue & green = intellectual and balance seem more soothing to me.
I will retweet and share article with my connections.
Hi Sonia, yes agree – my previous card went word-heavy when I added info about my newsletter. In hindsight, could have left that out and improved the card.
The blue and very specific green were selected because they were “corporate” professional colors, green denotes wealth, abundance.
Thanks for retweet and share!