Countless have one, but may not even stop to consider: What should your business card say about your company?
From enormous corporations to small-town family startups, businesses everywhere use every tool available to increase visibility, drive sales, and generally thrive in the competitive marketplace. One major factor for any organization to succeed is their marketing; that is, their mix of promotions and advertising designed to create a return on investment.
Although many may not think of it as marketing, the truth is that business cards are one ingredient of a business entity’s branding. How people view that business card will immediately play an essential part in shaping their perspective of the company it represents. With this key fact in mind, the important question remains: What should your business card say about your company?
Even for mom-and-pop shops on the strip mall with a prohibitively small budget to work with, there are still some standards that must be universally adhered to when it comes to place-of-business practices. Among these is the concept of professionalism, including the idea that it does not take a lot of money to look serious or high-quality; rather, much like the de factor rules of etiquette, one must simply follow established protocol in order to appear like they know what they are doing. When it comes to business cards, this means following the standard size, and not using cheap copy paper to form them. At the very least, black text on card stock will work just fine; in fact, done cleanly and stylistically, can even perform perfectly.
Whether while making cold calls or during appearances at conferences and other networking events, a business card is the one piece of lasting evidence that a businessman or businesswoman can leave with a contact. As it is the only shred of the introduction that they keep with them even afterward, it is very important that it provide an immediate “in” to render services. This may be as simple as “Need a handyman? Please call:” or some other phrase that directly, clearly, actively invites the reads to take action and take action quickly. A business card that is unclear because it is trying to be too artsy, or a card that lacks the necessary contact information, is a business card that should be spun into the recycling bin.
The film American Psycho, starring Christian Bale as a 1980’s hot shot in corporate yuppie culture who has some rather devious secret habits, has a brilliant scene that satirically lampoons the practice of bragging about who has the classiest, most cutting-edge, expensive, highest-quality business card. Although the actual dollar amounts and technical specifications perhaps miss the point, there is a grain of truth to the show-and-tell. For example, though there is nothing wrong with home-brew business cards printed on Avery stock to standard size, if they are misprinted, overlap, or printed on low toner for a faded-out look, it reflects poorly on the company. After all, if you cannot even get your business card right, who’s to say that your other services will be rendered any better? If you can afford it, it is typically best to let a professional printer or graphic designer handle the card-cutting duties, and you may be surprised at how affordable a set of effective business cards can be.
When considering what your business card should say about your company, keep in mind that a business card is like a gun, a knife, a wrench, or a loaf of bread: Its effectiveness is entirely dependent on how you use it, not any inherent value. A well-designed, quality-crafted, liberally distributed business card may be just the edge you need to land a few new long-term clients; especially so, if you have given careful thought to the image that your business card reflects about your company.