Business cards are among the least expensive marketing tools a business person has at his disposal, yet they are typically very poorly used, if they are used at all. Here are some tips for maximizing the marketing power or your business cards.
1. Carry your business cards with you at all times. This sounds obvious, I know, but you would be amazed how often a business person doesn't have business cards on hand when they are needed. Even if you manage your contacts through your PDA and you love to "beam" your contact information to others, still keep those business cards in your wallet, business card holder, pocket, briefcase, and car.
2. Make sure your employees, spouse and close associates also carry your business cards with them. I have picked up more than one client who learned about me through a conversation with my husband, who reached into his wallet and handed over a business card.
3. Hand out a business card as you introduce yourself at meetings and networking events. Not only do people appreciate seeing the name they just heard, but putting a business card in someone's hand as you introduce yourself engages three senses while you have their attention (hearing, sight, and touch). The more they are engaged, the more likely they will remember you, which is the point, remember?
4. Consider having your photo printed on your business card. People like to see who they are working with. Seeing your picture later will help them remember you. Also, it has been documented that seeing a photo on a business card and a website tends to help people develop trust faster than when they don't see a picture. If you are concerned about your appearance, do something about it or get over it. Touch up your rough edges with some photo editing software if you must, but get your face out there!
5. Be creative with your business cards. Of course, you want to make sure that your name and contact information are legible, but you should use the opportunity to express a bit of who you are with your business card. Maybe you can do that through a creative use of color or your logo. Perhaps you will want to add a unique slogan. Consider a double-sided card design. I saw a card recently with contact information on both sides. I saw another with a web address on the back. The back is also a good place for a catchy slogan.
6. Leave cards behind when you call on someone who is not there. Write individual notes on these cards to make them more memorable and personal. Be sure to use the other person's name n your handwritten note.
7. Hand a card to the secretary when you arrive for an appointment. This will help her get your name right when she notifies her boss that you are there. It also makes sure your contact information is in the hand of the person who will probably be entering it into the data system. By the way, business cards are the business descendent of calling cards, small cards with the visitor's name on them, which were used to announce the visitor to the person being visited. Presenting a card when you arrive for an appointment demonstrates a little class and etiquette.
8. Include a business card in greeting cards you send to customers or prospects. Especially if your business card has your photo on it, this will help them remember who you are, and remind them of your contact information. If they misplaced your card, this is a way to get it to them again without forcing them to ask for it. Also include your card with gifts you give to clients.
9. Look for opportunities and appropriate places to leave your cards behind for others. The right places for this will depend on your business and target market. You can ask business owners to allow you to leave cards in a holder on their counters. This is particularly appropriate if you have a complementary (but not competing) business. Also, don't be afraid to leave one or two laying around here and there (on bulletin boards, near ATMs, etc.). It's a good place if it is somewhere where your clients or prospects will be.
10. Use your business card for ads in newsletters and local publications. The term "business card size" is a common term for one of the sizes of ads available in most publications. You don't have to use your business card for the ad copy, but if you have a good business card (photo, nicely designed, easy to read), why not?
There are many ways you can use business cards to help market your business. Don't be stingy with your cards. Hand them out freely. Personalize them with notes. Don't assume that just because you gave someone your card in the past that they still have it, or that they transferred the contact information before misplacing the card. You will undoubtedly see a rapid return on your investment as you begin to use your business cards more.