by Tony Vidler
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about business cards again recently, basically because I’ve been going through a heap of re-design work for my own business. On one level I’ve been thinking that business cards are a waste of time, effort and money….I mean, I get given one and I almost immediately store the details digitally and then never look at the actual business card again. But not everyone is like me.
Pretty much the first thing we do when we met new people in business is hand over our business card, and despite the fact that pretty much everyone has a smartphone and could store the information electronically straight away, the fact is most don’t.
Dammit. The business card still has a place.
So what to do?
Any marketing we do needs to help us stand out in our target markets mind. It needs to reinforce the brand imagery, and definitely needs to convey the business positioning and the value proposition. It almost needs to be a mini-brochure for the business. Perhaps it could list our expertise and areas of technical competency, and definitely our qualifications. Maybe a photo as well. Oh, and it needs to have all our contact details on it. But it can’t look cluttered…..that is a heck of a lot to get right and also fit onto the conventional 3.5 inch x 2 inch piece of cardboard.
Obviously we could ignore convention and go for a bigger card, or perhaps a folded business card that opens up to give more reading room. Those ideas have some merit, and normally get a little extra attention.
I went the other way last time I changed my business cards – went a little smaller. Instead of the traditional rectangle I moved to a square card, and much heavier than usual. As far as a business card can, it had some heft. People noticed the difference and often comment on it. It is printed on both sides…one side is the log and value proposition. Pure and simple. The other side is the positioning statement and contact details….but not all contact details. Just the essentials – a freephone number and the email and website addresses.
That has worked pretty well really, and definitely stands out compared to the typical financial services cards (all the same size; all aiming to create the uncluttered look by having white space somewhere by using miniature fonts that middle-aged eyes struggle to read).
The problem is that it no longer looks fresh and modern. It looks a little dated and tired – and I definitely don’t want to convey that impression about myself or my business!
So here is my thinking in these days of disposable consumables, and time and attention poor customers, who all have smartphones and virtually live online….the modern business card needs to achieve:
One could generate attention by being a little quirky, but does that fit with my target market or brand image?
The value proposition has to be simple and succinct. Relatively few words that immediately strike a chord and tap into what the target market wants.
What is essential contact information nowadays? a freephone number, and email address and what to google to find me online. Rather than drive traffic to a particular website where potential customers may or may not be over-awed I’ve been thinking about what I do. I google the persons name rather than go to the website they specified. Depending on what they do, or what I am interested in out of their range of skills and expertise, I may go to their LinkedIn profile, or their website, or check out their social media accounts, or their blog….the point is: I know what I want to look into; I don’t need them telling me where to go.
That appears to me to be pretty much the key requirements of a business card today. They are still necessary, but for a relatively conservative profession they cannot be too quirky. But they have to modern in look and feel, and get to the essentials quickly and cleanly.
Dammit. I am definitely going to have to do new business cards and start again…
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