Making business cards a part of your business!

by Carl on September 14, 2009

We all have them and we all give them and take them, in fact, I have six of them!

What am I talking about? Business cards.

In my ‘coffee with kloog’ workshops at some point the subject of business cards comes up.  The worry is there are still so many bad ones out there. But I guess that’s good for the business card designers but bad for you… if indeed you do have a bad card.

What makes a bad card?
My approach to cards is a simple one; they are your little sales men. They have to work when you are not there. What I mean by that is if I meet you at a networking event along with ten other people then when I return to my desk the day after in the cold light of day will your card tell me who you are, what you offer and why I should be interested? Will your card remind me of you? Will it get across your personal values or your business values? Will it get across your point of difference? Will it intrigue, entertain or delight me?
Okay, perhaps no-one’s card will ever ‘entertain or delight’ but many will do the exact opposite and be dull and instantly forgettable.

A test for you
One thing I suggest people do is to collect business cards – not just of your prospects but of your competition. Get as many as you can and then take them to your desk and lay them down and then add yours. Stand back and have a look; does yours simply blend in with all the others? The amount of Financial Services cards that are white with a blue logo and black type is staggering… well perhaps not staggering but simply obvious. Just imagine if you were an IFA and you dared to have an orange card with rounded corners and a job title that said ‘dream maker’. How different, memorable and intriguing would you look? That may be going too far but you get the idea.

Also shouldn’t your ‘little salesman’ be a reflection of you? So what if you are a sole trader in the HR sector; it doesn’t mean your card has to look like every other HR consultant’s business card. Try to get across elements of your personality in the card in the colour, wording, even in its texture. I know two businesses whose cards smell! They smell as they reflect the business or the personality of the owner. If I sold fruit could my card smell like an orange or be the shape of a banana? Why not?

No personality
If, however, you are dull, boring, bland and have no creative side then simply go to one of those horrendous machines or websites that offer a thousand business cards for 10p and end up with a flimsy bit of paper printed one side with some random, usually predominantly purple image of stars or a starfish or flowers. I know some of you are cringing because you have them. Well use them up quickly and find yourself a designer and get a new one that reflects the fact that you do have a personality, that you are indeed unique, that you have a creative side and perhaps even that you are fun to work with while being an expert.

What do you do?
I see a lot of cards that look pretty but when you look again they don’t have the person’s name on them! They do not tell you what the company does – remember just because you and your existing customers know what you do that doesn’t mean your PROSPECTS will have a clue and I am guessing your brand isn’t big enough that they will know. So make sure your card tells them!

Can you guess what it is yet?
If you do have someone working on your design then make sure it’s a design that reflects you and not a design that demonstrates how creative the designer is. The use of clever logos, ambiguous designs and job titles no one understands should be a no-no. Also don’t fall at the last hurdle when it comes to the production. Watch for cheap paper stock; it makes the card and therefore you the giver of the card, look cheap. Also be aware of ‘offset’. This is when there is such heavy ink coverage on your cards that when you take them out of your wallet they look smudged and as though they have been held for rather too long in a hot and sweaty hand!

Devil in the detail
I do not personally like email addresses that are obviously ‘private’ emails. For example, my business is kloog so my email is ch@kloog.ch not carlh123@googlemailwhizbang.co.uk which basically just makes you look a bit of an amateur. This is fine if you deal with other ‘amateurs’ but I am guessing that you want to deal with serious businesses. So look ‘serious’

And finally check all the info is correct. I recently noticed after a networking event that the chap I wanted to contact had a ‘.co.uk’ email address but a ‘.com’ web site which is unusual. I went to the site and it wasn’t his, same name but different business. I emailed him to tell him and he had no idea and no-one had ever mentioned it but how many people must have done what I did then simply binned the card?

So there you have it, they may only be 55mm x 85mm and weigh next to nothing but in the business world they carry a lot of weight and they are big and important. Now open your wallet or your purse because maybe it’s time to look at your business cards.

For a chance to meet with me why not book a coffee with kloog, check out how to do this at www.kloog.co.uk/coffee-with-kloog.html

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul The Bulletman September 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I call them BABY FLYERS in DISGUISE lol. Great advice Carl. I too am a big fan of better business cards for business and I back up everything said here. So much so that I BRILLIANT business cards. Double your sales with a simple twist. (Effective design and double sided print costs around 10 pounds more for x250 and 20 pounds more x500 and that is with any printer! So what are you waiting for? Follow Carl’s suggestions, you will be paid back TEN fold for your small investment. Also save stress as less flyers to hand out! I am very passionate about Brilliant business cards. Before and after case studies are amazing – so if you want a FREE pack of samples just drop me an email to paul@bulletpointdesign.co.uk

holly weiker September 14, 2009 at 7:24 pm

They are a definate neccesity for networking. You want to look professional to give a good impression.

benmckenna September 15, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Very sound advice, especially the email address and distinctiveness parts.

I’m a massive fan of Moocards myself, high quality, great customisation options and very, very cost effective. If anyone is thinking they should bin theirs or are just starting out they could do alot worse than visit their site. *

*No money changed hands for the endorsement of this product

Jim Shields September 16, 2009 at 6:58 am

Right. I think we’ve gone full circle on this one.

Firstly, ‘ingenious’ cards can sometimes make you look like the local DJ. As in a right twat who lives with his mum. You might as well have a hologram on it. Surely we’re looking desperate and gimmicky with these ‘cool’ cards. I appreciate it’s down to the creativity but I have to say credibility is everything, especially in B2B marketing.

Dream Maker? – oh for God’s sake. Grow some will you. Maybe it’s because I’m a Manc lad – we can smell bullshit a mile away.

In a room full of people screaming, surely the quiet guy is the intriguing one? The one looking confident? When the Bank created it’s brand it looked different because it was solid and minimalist. Cool and confident. The WORK was what people went ‘wow’ at.

Actually I agree with Holly. Professional. Creative services are scary eniugh to be buying as it is

The size of the image (and by that I mean ‘loudness’) is inversely proportional to the actual size of the business. And if you’ve not been remembered at a networking event then go and buy yourself a bloody personality then!

There. I feel much better now.

Claire September 16, 2009 at 11:09 am

This may be of interest: http://creativebits.org/cool_business_card_designs

I’m don’t think a business card should always be wacky and bizarre, but a bit of creative flair and thought make a massive difference! The link might give you some ideas if you’re keen to re-vamp your calling card…

adrian September 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm
Tim Stringer September 25, 2009 at 10:19 pm

A very interesting insight in to the mind of someone who obviously has a great deal to offer people at the smaller end of business.

I’m currently in the process of designing myself some business cards and will definitely take your comments on board.

Thanks

Catherine June 22, 2010 at 6:56 am

Business cards generally are perceived as to reflect a persons personality. Therefore I think they must be designed intelligently. Thanks for such interesting tips Carl.

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