When you own a home-based business opportunity or any other small business, networking with others and getting yourself out there is more often than not a key part of your overall marketing strategy. Let’s put it this way...if it isn’t, it should be.
After all, it’s a fact that whether or not you leave a good and memorable impression can make or break you, so having a great business card as a leave-behind is still a necessity. Like it or not, it remains one of the best and most affordable marketing tools out there.
So what can you do to make sure you’ve got a great business card, one that you can use to your maximum advantage as a conversation starter and that will be a keeper by anyone’s standards, landing in their reference file and not their circular one?
Here are some tips:
• Quality counts—While all the more affordable and even free DIY business card options currently available online are convenient, they don’t always present well. In fact, they can look downright cheap. Hey, you get what you pay for, right? Trouble is that cheap may not be the image you’re looking to portray, so beware! Penny wise, pound foolish is a biggie when it comes to business cards.
• Simple is best—Name, company, title, phone number and email address are what matters most, and even too many phone numbers is overkill. Don’t make a prospective customer track you down by playing phone roulette. In almost all cases, fax numbers are unnecessary, and even a street address is only relevant for some industries anymore.
• But…some extras are worth a mention—If you’ve got a great website that is truly informative, it might be worth taking up some precious real estate on your card, likewise if you have one or two workable social media links where you know there’s real payoff potential. But keep in mind that less is more, so if just one URL will get someone to where they can access all of it, that’s even better.
• Make visuals count—If your logo is original and says a lot about what you do or your brand, then use it. If it’s just for looks and it’s crowding out everything else on what is already a small palette, skip it. Depending on the industry, a picture of the individual and/or what that person is selling can be effective. Whatever you do, avoid clip art; it screams chintzy.
• Think functional—While those glossy finishes might look nice, they can frustrate people who want to make notes on your card. So think carefully about your end-users and how you want to make their lives easier. For instance, non-standard sized cards might be great for your creativity, and they may even make you stand out, but if they don’t slip easily into someone’s portfolio of cards, their wallet or even their card scanner, will that hurt you in the long run? And pretty or extravagant fonts are lovely, but only if anyone and everyone can decipher what it is they have to say. Likewise on choice of ink…if it’s too light to read, then it may as well not be there at all.
• Use the back wisely—Keeping the information to a minimum on your card is a plus, and it’s completely okay to leave the back of the card blank. At the same time, the back is a great place to make a short and simple impact statement, such as your company’s tagline, a brief note about what it is you do or your satisfaction guarantee…anything that brands you and sets you apart is good.
• Always seek an even exchange—Don’t just approach a potential customer and give them your card, ask for theirs in return. That way you make a real connection, and you also get a sense of what other people are doing with their cards that might inspire you. Moreover, it's important you make a special effort to get to know the competition. Much like anything else in your industry, your card should at the very least meet the minimum standard being set by your peers.
• Follow up if you want to stand out—Finally, you’ve got to follow up and follow through if you want to be more than just a piece of paper in someone’s pocket. If you make the acquaintance of someone you want to work with or for, then make sure to send them a note or connect with them in a personal way via social media, LinkedIn for example.
At the end of the day, no matter how many gadgets we all have, making the most of every business opportunity still comes down to people connecting with other people and making each and every exchange as memorable as possible. We can’t ever lose sight of that.