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What Does Your Card Say?
By Don Cooper   Printer Friendly Version

Your business card is your most fundamental marketing piece. You give it out to everyone you meet (see my article on networking) and you include it with your correspondence. It is what people will use to remember you and contact you. So, is your card working for you or against you? Compare your card to this list of 10 dos and don'ts to see if it needs a makeover.

  1. Do use your "real" name:
    If your full name is Timothy Fitzpatrick Xavier Callahan IV, but everybody calls you "Pat", then put "Pat Callahan" on your business card. People will be more likely to remember your name if your card and your nametag reinforce your verbal introduction rather than conflict with it.
  2. Don't use fine print:
    Despite the fact that it is almost impossible to read, some people use type sizes as small as 5 points. To give you a frame of reference: The rest of this article is in 12-point type. Unless you sell eyeglasses, keep it to 8 points or larger.
  3. Do show your colors:
    Plain black and white is dull, dull, and dull. For greater impact, either your paper or your ink (preferably both) should be in at least one of your corporate colors. (If you don't have any corporate colors, talk with a marketing consultant who specializes in graphic design.)
  4. Don't disappear:
    To be easily readable, your ink color and paper color should contrast (but not clash), so that the type stands out from the background. It is best to consult with a graphics expert or a printer.
  5. Do splurge on paper:
    A cheap, flimsy card says, "cheap, flimsy company," so avoid "do-it-yourself" cards that are designed to be run through a laser printer. Use the thickest, nicest paper you can afford and have your cards professionally typeset printed and cut at a print shop. It doesn't cost that much more and it is worth every penny.
  6. Don't waste a beautiful opportunity:
    If the back of your business card is blank, you're missing out on a great marketing opportunity. Put something of value on the back, such as a calendar, a list of available services, some easy-to-use tips, a few testimonials, some positive quotations or a frequent customer tracking system. If you do business internationally, reprint the information from the front in the appropriate language.
  7. Do help people find you:
    If you want potential customers to contact you, make it easy for them. Your card should list all the ways of getting in touch with you, including your address, phone and fax numbers (with area code), e-mail address and web site if you have one. Oh, and if you have just gotten e-mail or a web site, get new cards printed immediately. Using labels or a stamp to add the new info to your old cards costs nearly as much and looks far less professional.
  8. Don't confuse people, however:
    If you have multiple addresses and/or a P.O. box, decide which one you want people to use and list only that one. People hate guessing games. And multiple addresses increase the chances of a mistake being made, resulting in your mail not getting to you.
  9. Do use pictures:
    Adding your picture, a graphic or your logo to your card makes it more visually appealing and aids memory retention. (If you would like a referral to someone who specializes in logo design, just give me a call.)
  10. Don't make people share:
    If there is more than one name on a business card, a) it looks cheap; and b) it is hard to remember whom it was that you met. Every person in your organization should have their own card. It is an inexpensive way to show them that they are a valued part of the organization.

So, how does your card stack up? If it made it through this exercise unscathed, congratulations! If not, the time for change is now. Every time somebody sees your business card it makes a statement about you and your company. What do you want that statement to be?

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