Many have declared business cards “dead,” but a product can’t be dead when people are still using it en masse. That said, I’ll admit that the traditional business card is very nearly useless. If you design and deploy business cards the way you’ve always done it, your card is likely to end up in a trash bin with the rest of the trade show materials from your prospect’s swag bag.
If you’re going to spend the money to design and print your business card, get the most marketing juice out of it as you possibly can. These guidelines will set you along the right path for designing (and handing out) just such a card.
Design and Durability
Think about the first websites to hit the web. They were what you might call “bare bones.” With time, however, they became more dynamic and better looking. While simplicity and correct use of white space is still important, so is sleek design and eye catching images.
Many business cards are still stuck in the “bare bones” stage. They’re an effective and efficient way to communicate information, yes, but people want more than that. They want you to entertain them while you pass along information. My favorite business card of all time had no writing on the front. Instead, it showed a scenic picture that I knew the individual had taken himself. Not only did it catch my eye, but it also told me about his personality.
Additionally, your business card must be durable. Thin and bendable screams low quality – and that’s not an impression you want to leave with people. Since it costs more to print durable cards consider ordering less. One hundred high-quality, eye-catching business cards are infinitely better than 300 low-quality ones that end up lost in a pile of other cards.
Your business card needs a QR code, without a doubt. Perhaps one day technology like CardMunch will be popular enough that its mainstream but that’s not the case yet, so you have to make your information easily accessible via smartphone. The question is: Where should your QR code link to?
Your instinct is probably to point the QR code to your company website or blog. Unless that’s the whole purpose of your card (to promote your website/blog), don’t do it. The QR code should instead contain your information in vCard format. This allows your prospect to save your information in their phone without having to type it. This way they don’t have to go looking for your card to contact you; it’s already in their phone.
Your card needs to be useful to people who can’t use the QR code, as well – but don’t jam it full of information. People don’t need to know about every one of your Twitter handles. At most you need your phone number (cell, for texting purposes), email, one social media URL and one website/blog URL (in addition to your title/company and your name).
How you hand out your card is as important as how the card looks. If your cards are in a haphazard pile and you thoughtlessly pass your card around then you communicate a dangerous message: This isn’t important. It sounds silly, but you must create a memorable experience. Show some reverence and respect for that business card! I suggest using a neat flip out card holder that takes a few seconds to open – requiring the person to watch you as you open the holder and pull out the card.
Business cards aren’t dead, but the old way of using them is. If you continue to use business cards in the way you always have then you’ll continue to fall further and further behind the curve. No matter how many you hand out, they’ll still end up lost or in the trash.
Neither is the business world ready for full-on digital business cards. The sweet spot – that space that’s most effective – is right in the middle. Bringing the business world in line with the digital world (and creating a card that appeals to people’s senses) is the best way to set your card above the rest, whether you’re at a trade show, conference or business meeting.
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