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Does Your Business Card Whisper or Shout?

Business cards are the most underutilized and misunderstood marketing tool in business. Many people spend the bucks for cards and don't make an effort to get them into the hands of those who can hire them or buy from them.

Everyday people throw away stacks of undelivered business cards. Money down the dumper.
Your goal is to design and use a memorable card and get so many delivered you have to re-order. Forget about those clever articles about what to do with stacks of leftover cards.

The only time you should have cards still in the box is when something on the card becomes outdated or obsolete.

If you designed your cards as a marketing tool and planned your distribution, tossing unused cards in the trash should become the exception rather than the rule. If one item on your card changes the cards are obsolete and should be pitched.

Car dealers are famous for finding ways to save money on business card expense. With the revolving door turnover of salespeople, many dealers stopped ordering individual cards for new hires. They print a master card with color dealer logo and phone numbers and leave a big space in the middle for the new salesperson's name to be penciled in. That way, when the would-be fast talking, glad handing flannel mouth doesn't work out, no new cards need be printed.

A swell image: handwritten business cards.

It would be interesting to run the numbers on how much money was saved at the printers versus how much business went somewhere where the salespeople appeared more professional. With car dealer margins, one sale would buy a lot of business cards.

Worse is using a business card with a black or blue marker blotting out a line of type and a new name,address or phone number written (or typed) above the black line. Ugh!

Some people painstakingly cut itty bitty strips of computer labels printed with the new information and stick them over the old just to save a few bucks. Calculate what your time is worth and the savings turn into an expense, not to mention what the "corrected" card does to future business.

Dig out that stack of business cards you have been collecting for years and flip through them, you will see at least one with a correction.

If you are in any business and venture outside your cubby-hole for any reason, you should carry business cards at all times. You should be able to "whip one out" without digging out your wallet and flipping thru pics of the kids, or plunging to the bottom of your purse past the hair spray.

You card says a lot about you. And you say even more about you when you offer your card.

Say it in business-like, professional style. - by BIG Mike
Business cards are the most underutilized and misunderstood marketing tool in business. Many people spend the bucks for cards and don't make an effort to get them into the hands of those who can hire them or buy from them.
Do you have any recommendations on how to design a business card or the most effective ways to use business cards as a marketing tool? - by Liberty
Here's how to create a great business card

Your name should be the biggest part of the card. Right there where the eye can pick it out without searching.

Avoid the old trap of name and phone number in 6 point type in the lower right corner.

Your card's purpose is to get people to remember YOU and contact YOU. So put YOU in the middle, big. A fancy company logo is not you. YOU are the most important element of your business card.

The second most important element of your new business card should be your preferred method of communication. If you are a cell phone junkie, your cell phone number should be the biggest on the card. If eMail is your thing, your address should be prominent and near your name. No need to post every contact method. An option would be to add your company logo, albeit small, in the corner of your card.

Don't use clip art to create your logo. No logo looks a lot better than one from page 23 of the clip art book. You can have logos professionally designed for less than $500 bucks.

Your name, contact information and shortened elevator speech (let's call it a selling sentence) are more important than any other elements of your business card. More important than paper stock (always use a high gloss card stock), colors (0nly in a photo or logo) or fonts (easy to read). Cards DO get passed around.

If someone who has never met you is given your card, they must be able to determine who you are and how you can help them. "Joe Jones, Plumber" might work, but it doesn't convey what you can do for them. "Joe Jones, I show up on time, smell good and fix your leak, guaranteed", says a whole lot more. Now your business card is selling YOU.

A professional business card says more about you and your business than any other tool in your marketing arsenal. You need a card that looks good, tells what you do and makes it easy to contact you. - by BIG Mike
In the past I've printed a tagline or "selling sentence" on the backside of my business cards. This kept the front of the card from being too cluttered.

You wrote 'always use a high gloss card stock'. Is there a specific reason for this? - by SpeedRacer
For a few pennies more you get a million dollar impression.

Look at the cards you have collected from others.

The impressive ones are shiney.

Compare that with the flat black on dull white.. looks cheap and fast. Not a good business face. Worse, something made with an inkjet printer and torn apart at the "micro" perf lines. - by BIG Mike
My company business card is presentable. The company logo is attractive to look at because of it's unique style. My name was written in bold letter. There's a slogan at the back that attracts customers. - by shinningstar
As someone with experience designing logos, letterhead and business cards for small businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies, I'll differ somewhat with a few of the previous posts.

Your business card, more than any other marketing device, speaks about you in a personal way. It says something about who you are and what you do when you aren't around to speak for yourself. For this reason, your business card should embody the quality and professionalism of your business.

Glossy stock is, by no means, the defining element in an effective business card. As a matter of fact, the larger, more successful companies I design for tend to opt for non-glossy stock. They want an upscale, understated image and they know that glossy "can" appear flashy or cheap. That said, there are plenty of instances where glossy works, but you want to spend the extra $20 or $30 to get a quality stock that won't yellow, crack or warp over time. There are also some excellent satin stocks out there that are not very expensive.

We live in a world that is increasingly digital. Printed matter is actually becoming "retro" before our very eyes. The current trend is that people are printing less, but investing more in the "quality" of the marketing materials they still continue to print. So, in effect, the bar is being raised.

When you flip through your business card file, you have an instinctive reaction to each card you see. You may feel good or bad about a business based on factors as seemingly insignificant as color, quality of stock, logo design or typeface. The challenge is to use these elements to send a message to prospective clients: that you are trustworthy, professional and the sort of person they would like to do business with. That's a lot to ask for a small piece of paper, but it can be done.

I would guess that most of you would opt to spend a few extra dollars on a nice tie rather than show up at a meeting wearing one that is obviously cheap. You want to make a good impression, so you dress for success. Your business cards are an extension of you. Dress them for success as well. - by DesignGuy
Personally, I use a bi-fold card. It's a standard size, but with 4 sides instead of 2. I can get a lot of information on these cards and not have to make them feel cramped.

The front is a traditional layout... company name and logo, contact info, etc. The inside faces and back list what I do within the realm of my business in three different areas (Industrial air cleaners, Commercial a/c's, and residential a/c's on the back.

They're more expensive than one or two sided cards, but I wanted a lot of real estate to tell people what I do. - by DaveAtICA
There's something to be said for four panel cards and other approaches that don't fit the mold. Four panel cards can become small brochures, providing basic information about your business.

I've found that some people prefer oversized cards because they stick out in a stack of standard sized cards, others like color or die cuts. An attractive logo can add a lot to your company's image, and so can an unusual paper stock.

I knew a furniture refinisher that had his cards printed on mahogany veneer. They were very effective. Likewise, I've seen transparent plastic cards, cards printed on handmade papers, aluminum cards and other unexpected surfaces.

Of course, there's a fine line between appearing creative and looking schlocky. You want to attract attention without sacrificing your image. - by DesignGuy
My card has a silhouette of a jet on the front and on the back a 20% off coupon code for my selling to millionaires program. I like putting stuff on the back because the front remains uncluttered.

Susan - by susana
I am a Realtor and now have a picture of my wife and I on the card. Thoughts about pictures? Yes, ours is a current one. :) - by waynelong
Are there any particular companies you would recommend to produce your cards that do a classy job at a fairly reasonable price? - by waynelong
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