I read once a long time ago that all you really need to get started in business is a good idea and a great business card, and I've found that's pretty much still true today.
But not all business cards are created equal. A bad business card is more of a liability than an asset, but a great business card is worth ten times what you pay for it.
Wondering if your business card is an asset -- or a liability? Read on for a checklist of the elements of a great business card.
Make sure your card:
1. Has your contact information. Sounds basic enough, but some folks actually forget to include their NAMES on their business cards! Your name, your business name, phone number, email address, web URL, and address (either physical or mailing) are all necessary. Anything less diminishes your credibility.
2. Has your core marketing message (not your tag line). A tag line is a positioning statement (such as "Have it your way!") that doesn't necessarily tell what you do, but positions you against your competitors. Your marketing message is probably very close to your elevator speech, and describes the outcome of your work as well as your ideal client (what you do and for whom).
3. Is readable. Print that is too small means your card is unreadable. But small print isn't the only issue; I've seen "arty" business cards that make no sense in terms of layout and copy, so unless you ARE Pablo Picasso, make your card easy to read and not a visual challenge.
4. Looks professional, not like a craft project. For example, unless there is a legitimate reason to hand-letter your business cards (such as you are ten years old, or your business is all about hand-lettering) or do anything else that is "crafty," don't. Not only is it probably a waste of your time, it looks both juvenile and terminally unprofessional.
5. Is visually arresting, although consistent with your overall design concept. Photos are great on business cards, because they are visually arresting, help people recognize you, and because your face (in a photo) is an implied guarantee, especially for big-ticket items (now you know why most real estate agents have their photos on their cards).
6. Is the right size. Anything that doesn't fit into a standard card holder is the wrong size. It can be a little short, or a little thick, but never too wide or too tall.
7. Uses both the front and back. Have you ever noticed that when we get a card or a letter, the first thing we do is look at the back? I guess we all want to see what's behind Door #2. Take advantage of that behavior by including more information on the back of your card, such as a Top 10 list or a special offer.
8. Has a secondary use. You card can invite, inform, inspire, or amuse if it includes a special offer, an invitation, an appointment confirmation, tips, calendar, inspirational quote, or Top 10 list.
9. Is given away -- over and over again! Please don't be stingy with your business cards. While you should not force your cards on people who don't want them, you do not need to "qualify" each recipient of your business card. Remember: Just because someone isn't a prospect now doesn't mean that they might not pass on your card to someone who is a good prospect for you.
10. Doubles as a nametag at networking events. Just slip it into one of those plastic holders and clip it on to your lapel for an instant nametag. Not only will it be a great conversation starter, but you'll find people will remember you better.
By Veronika Noize
Image by Brenda Carson
This article was written by Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive marketing resource for small office/home office business professionals. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at http://www.VeronikaNoize.com, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com.