Imagine you are at a conference and you meet someone who would be a great contact to make, whether they’re in your industry or perhaps an outside industry that could use the product or service that your business provides. You meet, shake hands, and then what? Yes you can exchange emails, but in a fast paced networking environment, the time it takes to write down someone’s email can be a disruption. Also, not everyone is willing to hand out email addresses to people they don’t know. What happens to marketing emails from names you don’t recognize? If you’re anything like me, they go straight to the trash folder. Shaking someone’s hand and making a personal connection with a smile and sharing piece of value about your business are the first steps to a great new business connection. The last step is handing them a business card and giving them a reason to use it. It may seem old school to some, but in a world where everyone is relying on the internet for seemingly everyone, it’s refreshing to meet people who still value a personal connection.
Why do business cards still matter in the midst of the internet age? Because no matter how much we tell ourselves that we’ll remember to look at someone’s website or youtube, chances are we’ll either forget or get distracted with something else before getting there. The internet is a massive sea of possibilities that is designed to show you the things you are already interested in. While it is essential that you have a website and social media presence for your business, there is still high value in owning and sharing business cards with your client base. Here’s why:Handing a business card to a potential client or customer gives you the opportunity to earn a new frequent patron of your business. It can also lead to new business partnerships and help you network within your industry. Teaming up and sharing ideas with other great business leaders is crucial if you want to find long term success.
In addition to this first impression being important for building new relationships, putting tangible information about your business in the hands of future partners and customers is a super helpful tool that most people are missing out on.
The reality is that business cards give someone a reason to remember you. If you run a business where you individually offer a specific service, put your photo on the card. This way, that good impression you made will stick with them and remind them to call you when they look at your business card later. Even if they aren’t in the market for the service or goods you’re offering right now, they will think of you whenever that need arises in the future.
A common practice nowadays with business cards is to scan a photo and save it on your phone. People will commonly do this so they have the information they need without being weighed down by dozens of business cards in their wallet or purse. Even though the process is becoming digitized, the meaningful connection you made when handing them your card still matters and will give that new contact more of a reason to call you.
Business cards are inexpensive, portable, and easy to share, so there’s no good reason not to have one. Even with email, LinkedIn, and additional social media platforms, people still appreciate when you are thoughtful enough to hand them a personal business card. It lets them know that you aren’t only after them as a client, you genuinely care about connecting with them as a person.
Now that you’re reminded of all of the reasons why business cards are still essential, here are the most important tips for using them effectively:
The goal of the business card is to provide enough info to get the reader interested and make them think of your business next time they need something that you offer. Be sure to include something memorable that sticks with them after they first read the card. While it may seem like a good idea to include all of your social media accounts, year of establishment, and other smaller details, putting too much information on the card decreases the likelihood of it being read.
It’s a common practice for people to write down information or take notes on business cards to help them remember why they should call you. Once you’ve included your most important information, use white space as a tool that can work for you later. Also, white space has been proven to make things more appealing to read, because it makes the card appear more concise and helps draw attention to the content itself.
Handing out business cards with discounts, promotional codes, or free offers will incentive your customers to hang onto the card and bring them into your store to redeem the purchase.
If you own a store where people either wait in line or sit in a waiting area while they wait to be taken care of, strategically place business cards around your store where your customers will take one. Having cards located near the door is another easy way to get current customers to grab a card on their way out to remind themselves to come back in.
Every time you step into a taxi or Uber, consider offering the driver a discount on your product or service in exchange for letting you place business cards in the backseat so everyone who rides with that driver will see your card. Sounds silly but… these drivers know everyone!
Apartment buildings will usually provide new tenants with welcome packets that include a list of recommended stores and businesses in the area. Find out what you need to do to get on that list and bring a stack of cards for the apartment to give away.
Whether it’s a town hall, neighborhood gathering, or local art festival, go out and network and hand out those cards to the people in your community. Striking up a conversation and being genuine about your goal for spreading the word about your business is an incredibly under appreciated method of gaining traction in your city.
From colleges to public offices and local parks, there are a number of places around town that feature a bulletin board with local businesses cards scattered across them. Just because you’ve never found a business by looking at a bulletin board, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who spend money after finding business cards in these places.
Don’t limit yourself to only going to conventions with people in your own industry – Think about what other industries use your product or service and go out and make some partnerships. People often make networking sound like this difficult skill you must master before becoming successful; just go out and be genuine, kind, and friendly. You’ll do far better this way than the people who reek of desperation or greed.
Take a stroll around town and go inside other local businesses that offer a product or service that doesn’t compete with yours. Everyone is looking for new ways to market their business, most people are just unsure of what to do. By offering to display their pamphlets or business cards in your store, chances are that this other business will do the same. The same principle applies to individual service ventures as well; if you’re a real estate agent or salesman, make a deal with local businesses who share an target market with you and have them display your cards in exchange for using their signage or brand as an example in your showings or presentations.
When you’re handing out business cards to potential customers, make sure to ask about their profession and see if they have a business card of their own to share with you. Saying something like “if I or anyone I know ever needs your service, I will definitely recommend you”. Simply asking the question goes a long way in sparking a personal connection and showing that you care about more than increasing your bottom line.
Getting someone else’s business card isn’t just about being friendly. Once you have their information, you can easily connect with them online or contact them directly as an easy way to say hello and deepen your level of connection with them. The five minutes this will take will make you a no brainer for that person next time they need your service. Just think about it: If you met someone who was super friendly and took a genuine interest in your life and found out they were a local mechanic, what are the chances you would choose them next time you needed a car repair? And if this mechanic reached out after meeting you and told you they would be happy to offer advice or look at your vehicle on short-notice, chances are that you will give this mechanic your business in the future.
Do your best to keep your cards as decluttered as possible. The more information there is on your card, the less the customer will remember. After your name and phone number, be extremely selective for anything else that might go on the card. Keeping the overall business card design clean is very important.
The vast majority of marketing is done online these days, yet there remains the old-school audience who not only appreciate having a tangible business card to keep with them, but they also are often retired and have money to spend. Much of the older generations despise social media and all of the complications that surround the entire. So if you tell the average couple in their 80s to “find you online”, chances are that they are never going to find you. There are entire market segments who have money to spend but are rarely being marketed to, so handing out business cards with a handshake will acquire you more new customers than you may have previously considered.
Depending on the type of business you own, it very well may not be important to include links to your social media accounts on your business cards. However, if you operate in or adjacent to the B2B space you absolutely must include your LinkedIn account on your cards. While most social media is simply used for entertainment, there are millions of dollars being made through partnerships made via the world’s largest online business networking platform. If it makes sense for your business, this is how you turn that personal connection into a continued stream of referrals and income.
While they aren’t quite as valuable as they were in the pre-internet age, business cards still offer something that internet connections cannot: they’re real. If you can’t hold something in your hand, it usually won’t hold the same level of value in your mind. Take advantage of the fact that many people aren’t using business cards anymore. Instead of being 1 of 2,000 followers on someone’s twitter account, be 1 of 4 business cards that the potential customer keeps in their wallet. You don’t need to be a math wizard to understand those odds.
Business owners tend to use email more than any other method of communication when it comes to running their operation. “Going through emails” has become actual work that many people spend hours working through on a daily basis. The last thing a busy person wants is another spare email address floating around their address book from someone they will forget they met weeks ago. Whether you’re pitching your product or just making a friendly connection with the hopes of a future partnership or patronage, the genuine greeting with a physical card for them to take with them will increase your odds of continuing a dialogue.
The more memorable your cards, the more chance you have of getting business from sharing them. A major bonus of business cards is that they allow you the creativity of doing something different to stand out from your competition. A downside of online communication is that it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from others. Every friend request, email template, and connection memo looks more or less the same. Handing someone a super creative card that matches the tone of your brand will give you a massive advantage over your competition who relies on sending bland online messages to their potential customers.
The material, thickness, font, and other physical elements of your business card are often the first impression someone will have about your company. Are you creative? A family first guy or gal? Witty? Down to earth? Be thoughtful about the materials you choose and consider the impact they have on your brand.
One of the most important elements of running a business is making sure your employees feel valued and that they have a sense of ownership regarding the success or failure of the company. The more bought-in the employee, the better job they will do. Purchasing even a small quantity of business cards for each employee will not only make them excited, but they will feel a sense of pride when handing them out to people around the community. This excitement will rub off on the people receiving your employees’ business cards and will naturally lead to more sales in the process.
Coupons – A business card is great for sharing business information, but it’s also a great size to use as a coupon. Everyone loves saving money on things they already buy, so by displaying your coupon cards on the counter for when your customers walk in the store, they are going to be more likely to return so they can enjoy the savings provided by the coupon.
Appointment Reminder – Many businesses in the health and service industry provide appointment reminder cards for you to put on your refrigerator so you remember to come back and see them on a designated date and time. Why not use this same method for your business? Whether you’re offering a seasonal service or specific niche product, giving someone a colorful and vibrant business card will keep your business top of mind for future purchases.
Social Media Campaign Promotion – If you have a more old-school audience but have decided to hop on social media to try and expand your reach, passing out promotional cards with specific info on where to follow you is a great way to spread the message. If you can include a catchy hashtag that is unique to your business on the card, people will use the hashtag in their social media posts to spread the word about your business.
From hundreds of years ago to now, word of mouth has always been a reliable marketing tool to build the brand and reputation of a business. Testimonials are very important to the success of any small business. By including a small referral quote on the back side of the business card, it can act as a subtle but valuable tool for building the legitimacy of your business and encourage more people to choose to spend their hard earned money with you.
A major reason why local and mid-sized businesses struggle to compete with large chains is because people feel like they can trust the brand of the larger corporations. Naturally, a smaller business could never compete with a large chain in any industry when it comes to marketing. However, the one thing that you can do that large chains cannot is spread your personal business cards around town. If you are a tire shop that competes with the national brand Firestone and you are out in the community shaking hands and passing out business cards, you can actually give yourself an advantage that large corporations don’t know how to compete with. Having a professional yet creative business card legitimizes your operation and allows you to build your brand at an inexpensive price.
There you have it. Now that you have all of the tips and tools you need, go out and start using those business cards to network with members in your community. If you don’t have business cards yet or have been thinking about ordering some fresh and new ones, hop on over to our Business Cards tab in the Printing Section and the Catdi Printing team will help you get started.