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Advantages Magazine February 2012 : Page 118

ADVANTAGES FEBRUARY ’12 118 Build a Better Business Card We asked sales reps and business consultants to weigh in on best business-card practices. What makes some cards stand out from the rest? Here’s what you need to know to create a stellar card. our business card is your first opportunity to make an impression with potential customers, but not all sales reps make the most of it, according to experts. Patrick Black, owner of Perfect Imprints, is blown away by the lack of attention to detail that’s evident on some of the cards he receives. “Y ou wouldn’t believe all the cards I get from networking functions that have things scratched out on them,” he says. Janet Attard, CEO of businessknowhow. com, is similarly surprised by the number of people who cut corners with their cards and suggests spending a little more money on them, being more creative and by all means, ensuring your card clearly states what it is you do for a living. “If your card doesn’t indi-cate what you do, you should have a slogan that should be related to what you do,” she says. “But you don’t want gobbledygook that sounds fancy and doesn’t mean anything.” To dig a little deeper, take a look at busi-ness cards submitted by some of your peers. Each has been met with compliments, curi-osity and eventually, commissions! 118 FEBRUARY 2012 WWW.ADVANTAGESMAG.COM Y By shane d ale

Build A Better Business Card

Shane Dale

We asked sales reps and business consultants to weigh in on best businesscard practices. What makes some cards stand out from the rest? Here’s what you need to know to create a stellar card.<br /> <br /> Your business card is your first opportunity to make an impression with potential customers, but not all sales reps make the most of it, according to experts.<br /> <br /> Patrick Black, owner of Perfect Imprints, is blown away by the lack of attention to detail that’s evident on some of the cards he receives. “You wouldn’t believe all the cards I get from networking functions that have things scratched out on them,” he says.<br /> <br /> Janet Attard, CEO of businessknowhow. Com, is similarly surprised by the number of people who cut corners with their cards and suggests spending a little more money on them, being more creative and by all means, ensuring your card clearly states what it is you do for a living. “If your card doesn’t indicate what you do, you should have a slogan that should be related to what you do,” she says. “But you don’t want gobbledygook that sounds fancy and doesn’t mean anything.” <br /> <br /> To dig a little deeper, take a look at business cards submitted by some of your peers. Each has been met with compliments, curiosity and eventually, commissions!<br /> <br /> QR Quality <br /> <br /> Linda Whitteaker-Hanson, marketing manager at Innovative Marketing Consultants (asi/231523), decided to capitalize on the hot QR-code-on-everything trend via her business card. “I guess what makes us novel is the use of QR as part of the design,” she says. “We started implementing the new card in early 2011.” <br /> <br /> In case you don’t know how it works: Smartphone owners can download an app that allows them to scan these QR codes. When they scan the code on Whitteaker-Hanson’s card, it opens a Web browser that sends them directly to IMC’s website.<br /> <br /> Whitteaker-Hanson says she felt the necessity to add this feature to her card due to the substantial evolution of marketing and communications in the past several years. “The QR code created an opportunity to make the business card a more powerful tool,” she says. “It allowed us to accomplish two objectives: First, to integrate online and offline marketing efforts, and second, to give the recipient a much more comprehensive background of the individual they’re dealing with. “The use of the QR code is an easy way to direct clients to our website and is like handing out a catalog each time you pass out a card. The fast-paced growth of mobile phones has made this even more appealing. The gap between initial handshake and constructive conversation can be significantly reduced.” <br /> <br /> Whitteaker-Hanson says the codes on the cards, at minimum, are a great conversation piece and solicit a positive response. It also serves to underscore the “Innovative” in IMC.<br /> <br /> No Wasted Space <br /> <br /> It’s fair to say that Alex Peers believes in using many colors, not to mention every bit of space available on his card – front and back – to pitch his business.<br /> <br /> “People remember it and tend to hang onto it because it’s so colorful,” says Peers, designer at Curtis Sign Shop (asi/581591). “We get tons of comments on our business card and quite a bit of business from it, too.” <br /> <br /> Peers’ card includes his and the company owner’s name and number, along with his company’s name, slogan, capabilities, ASI number, Web address – and even a message about its eco-friendliness.<br /> <br /> But that’s just the front of the card. On the back is a list of all of the promotional products Curtis Design Shop provides.<br /> <br /> “Studies have shown that adding a second contrasting color to any advertising media will at least double the visibility of the piece,” says Peers regarding the front of the card. “Opposing colors provide the most contrast, therefore the most visibility. But beware of adding too much color, or the brain will get confused and want to shut off the overstimulation.<br /> <br /> “On business cards, I try to move from light at the top to dark on the bottom. If you want a specific area to be highlighted, use mostly darker colors for that area. Sometimes, I use light-dark-light from top to bottom to highlight the middle of the piece.” <br /> <br /> Peers has placed his business cards all over town, with tremendous results. “We are normally the brightest and most visible card on display. We’ve had several people comment on how ‘happy’ our card is,” he says.<br /> <br /> Peers notes the company has only been in the ad specialty business for a few months now, but the business is growing steadily, due in large part, he believes, to the business card. Ironically, “We have also started designing business cards for other companies in the area, and in several instances, end up competing with ourselves in the display game,” he says.<br /> <br /> Take Notes on this One <br /> <br /> Functionality is the way that Adam Yager says his business card stands apart from others.<br /> <br /> “We have what I think is a great-looking business card, and it’s also functional with an area on the back for notes,” says the managing partner at Blue Thunder Promotions (asi/141697).<br /> <br /> Yager got the idea when he noticed that potential customers were always using the back of his cards to write memos or product notes. “Sometimes they would put their contact info on the back and return the card to me,” he says. “I decided that, instead of having the back blank for such information, I could be a little creative and use the back for more branding.” <br /> <br /> Printed in small type on the top part of the back of Yager’s card is, “Notes, comments, ideas and other words of wisdom.” On the bottom of the back is the company logo, along with a reminder of its customization capabilities.<br /> <br /> Yager began to use the card in 2007 and hasn’t looked back – no pun intended. “Over the years, I’ve gotten positive comments about the back,” he says. “Prospects remember the card, which has definitely led to orders.”<br /> <br /> Card of Many Themes <br /> <br /> There’s definitely more than one theme going on with Ed Burgess’ circular cards.<br /> <br /> Burgess, owner of Weekend Warrior Promotional Products (asi/356446) in Pittsburgh, intentionally designed oversized poker chips as the company’s business card. “It reminds our customers of our core value to them: that they don’t have to gamble with their promotional products marketing dollars,” he says.<br /> <br /> And the color scheme definitely isn’t an accident. “The card is black and gold (other colors can be used for other locations), and we live in the land of black and gold here in Pittsburgh,” he says. “Pittsburgh teams all wear these colors – Pirates, Penguins and Steelers – so we’re catching a wide audience by playing to that theme. We’re saying, ‘We are one of you; we belong.’ As non-natives of Pittsburgh, this is particularly important to us.” <br /> <br /> Burgess says another reason that his card doesn’t get thrown away is the “heft and weight” to it. “It’s round, so it slips easily in and out of pockets without catching corners,” he says. “And because it’s bigger than a coin, it’s easy to find and pull out. Everyone is familiar with poker chips, but few people have been given one as a card, so it’s still semi-unique when they get one. It really breaks the ice and creates a positive exchange.” <br /> <br /> Case in point: A couple of months ago, while at a networking meeting at a local restaurant, Burgess gave the card to a business owner. “His first comment was, ‘Nice – black and gold, too! I love it,’ ” he says. “Our card doubles as an actual promo item. It’s a self-promotion and an example of what we want our customers to do: Promote themselves in a way that differentiates them from the masses. The added expense is well worth it.”<br /> <br /> In-House Design <br /> <br /> It may not take a village to create a business card, but for Eugene Diaz, it did take a house.<br /> <br /> “The best part of my card is that it’s always noticeable, and that’s what I wanted,” says Diaz, owner of Big House Multimedia (asi/138976), of his three-dimensional, house-shape card. “To be remembered, you have to have a great card.” <br /> <br /> Diaz features the name of his company in big letters on the front of the card. Inside the “house,” he includes his company’s slogan on one side and its contact info on the other. On the back, Diaz lists Big House’s capabilities.<br /> <br /> Diaz says his original card was a regular-size 3.5-inch by 2-inch card, “but I wasn’t being memorable. One day, I went through samples and online blogs that had the coolest cards. I saw one that stood up and popped out. I said, ‘Eureka.’ ”<br /> <br /> Diaz’s new set of cards have definitely paid off. A few months ago, he had a business appointment with a prospect who appears on a lot of live talk shows. In this situation, the client and her assistant got so caught up in a radio show that she forgot about her meeting with Diaz.<br /> <br /> “After about 45 minutes, I decided that I could not reach this assistant, so I walked into the reception area and left my card standing on the desk; I left another one on the copier next to it, and I left,” he says. About an hour later, I got a call: ‘Oh my gosh, Eugene, as soon as I saw your cards, I had to call you. Can you make something like this for me?’ ”<br /> <br /> Different, Yet Identical <br /> <br /> By using die-cut cards with a single rounded edge, Mark Ziskind, COO of Caliendo Savio Enterprises (asi/155807), makes his card appear in sync with his company’s other promotional items, and it helps him position himself as different from the competition.<br /> <br /> “It’s amazing how many people just hand out standard white cards, so between the die-cut and the way we integrated the art, many people say, ‘Oh, this is different,’ ” he says. “It’s not the most revolutionary thing, but it’s just a little bit different, and everything we try to do in all our communication is just a little bit different than what is expected.” <br /> <br /> Perhaps ironically, the card, which is square on one end and round on the other, is designed to look identical to the graphics that appear on CSE’s boxes, stationery and other materials. “It was consistent with some graphic imagery that we have on our packaging and pieces of collateral,” he says. “We try to have everything sync up, from business cards to stationery to boxes to thank-you notes.” <br /> <br /> By being consistent in its look but different in its feel, Ziskind says his business card gives him a competitive advantage. “It gives us a chance to tell our story,” he says. “When you hand the card out and somebody says, ‘This is different,’ it gives you a chance to say, ‘Thanks for noticing it. We try to be a little different, and here’s why we’re different.’ And so, it opens up the opportunity and gives you a chance to tell your story, and link that to creativity and service.”<br /> <br /> Colorful Combo <br /> <br /> Like the idea of three colors on a business card? How about four?<br /> <br /> Still not enough, says Margo Ahern, owner of Missing Link Promotional Products (asi/394077), who uses the same design on other self-promotional material, as well.<br /> <br /> “My husband designed my logo, which is five colored links with a space where one link is missing,” she says. “I use this on a black background or black garments. I often use it without any text or other identification, because once the name/logo connection is explained, people seem to remember it.” <br /> <br /> Ahern says her card is more eye-catching than a single or two-color card, which helps her strike up conversations with local clientele, discussing how she came up with the idea for the logo. A rapport is built in the process. “The design and company name came from the name of our hot air balloon, which is always a good conversation starter,” she says. “Here in Albuquerque, ballooning is a major sport. I do feel that it helps people remember me and make a connection.”<br /> <br /> Something Extra <br /> <br /> Cathy Kuchenbecker likes the idea that her business cards carry a certain degree of functionality.<br /> <br /> The owner of Paramount Promos (asi/290306) includes a plastic case and microfiber cloth with her cards – and like the card, the cloth also includes all of her company’s vital information in a business card-like format. “It makes for a great conversation piece, but also a practical cleaning cloth for eyeglasses, cell phones and iPads,” she says.<br /> <br /> Kuchenbecker created the cards after seeing a similar product at an ASI Show in Chicago. “I chatted with one of the owners at the booth, and she mentioned the option of the plastic pouch and it being the perfect size to put a business card inside. I ordered them on the spot – with show special pricing, of course,” she says.<br /> <br /> Kuchenbecker uses her card’s add-ons as an opening to discuss all of the possible uses of the cloth, which allows her to segue into a rundown of her company’s abilities. “I give some examples of what they can print on the cloth, such as business card info, a college campus map, a trade show floor map, an invitation, or an announcement of new products or services,” she says. “It gives potential customers a glimpse of our creativity and capabilities, which usually leads them into asking if they can get a quote on them. Or, they begin to tell me what events they have coming up and ask what ideas I can come up with for them.” <br /> <br /> A short time ago, Kuchenbecker landed a meeting with a local manufacturer. Upon arrival, she handed the receptionist her business card to pass on to the company president. “It immediately broke the ice, as he wore glasses,” she says. “He pulled the cloth out right away, started cleaning his glasses with it, and said, ‘This is great. What a great idea.’ After a very successful meeting, he’s now one of my biggest customers.” <br /> <br /> In fact, she is currently creating cloths for an upcoming trade show that will include a map of the show floor and a star that indicates where that client’s company’s booth will be. “Not only is it a useful product, but when networking, it helps your business card stand out in the pile,” she says.<br /> <br /> Dog Card: Corny or Fetching?<br /> <br /> Susan Cooper took a postcard-like idea and thought it would make a great business card, as well.<br /> <br /> “I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I thought it would be perceived as either super tacky and dumb, or fun,” says Cooper, president of Cooper Advertising Inc. (asi/168268). “But people really noticed it and responded.” <br /> <br /> In 2006, Cooper, whose specialty is political campaign materials like postcards and buttons, placed a picture of her dog, Lola (sporting an oversized and very patriotic bowtie) on the front of her business card. In 2010, she created a similar card by using her father’s dog, Quincy, dressed in a superhero costume, along with the rhetorical question, “Can the Underdog Win in 2010?” On the back of each card was an explanation of her company’s capabilities and pricing list, along with Cooper’s contact info.<br /> <br /> “We made business cards and postcards of both dogs and sent them to everyone who was running for office in North Carolina. We also sent a political brochure with specials on posters, buttons, etc.” <br /> <br /> In both the 2006 and 2010 election cycles, Cooper says she received a tremendous response. But the success of her card has gone beyond politicians. “The most recent order that came from these cards was last summer,” she says. “A lady from Atlanta was in town visiting her son, and she went to the photography studio next door to have some pictures made. She saw the Quincy-Underdog card on a table at the entrance of the building and asked the photographer about it. He sent her to me, and she ordered postcards and business cards with her dog’s picture for a pet-care business she had started – then she ordered postcards for her daughter, who is an artist.” <br /> <br /> Even if the cards don’t generate actual orders each time, Cooper says everyone who sees them comments on them – which is the whole idea. “It makes people see my name and, I hope, remember me,” she says. “Plus, it’s always fun to hand them out and watch people laugh.”<br /> <br /> Don’t Do It <br /> <br /> Business card experts Janet Attard, CEO of businessknowhow.com, and Patrick Black, owner of Perfect Imprints, lay out a few of the biggest business card no-nos:<br /> <br /> Don’t use see-through or clear business cards. “They’re hard to pick out from a stack of others if someone is looking for yours,” Attard says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use free cards that have the name of the printing company stamped on the back. “When it has the stamp of the printing company on the back, you know the person didn’t pay for them, and it kind of makes them look cheap,” Attard says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use outdated pictures of yourself. “Some people like Realtors use their pictures on cards. A lot of times they’ll use one that’s 20 years old, and you look nothing like that anymore,” Black says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use generic clip art. “A lot of people put Microsoft-looking clip art on their business cards,” Black says. “It’s overused and it’s just not unique.”<br /> <br /> Don’t use fill-in-the-blank cards. “Another mistake is a blank to fill in the name of the salesperson,” Black says. “To me, that gives a feeling that the salesperson is disposable, and it really gives them no worth for the company – not even worth printing their own set of business cards.”<br /> <br /> Don’t use too many different fonts. “It looks amateurish and it’s not very appealing to the eye,” Black says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use fonts that are too small. “You don’t want people to have to strain to have to read your card,” Black says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use strongly contrasting colors. “It makes it really hard to read. Green and red together would be an example,” Black says.<br /> <br /> Don’t use a popular e-mail domain name. “That includes e-mail domains like Yahoo, Gmail and MSN,” Black says. “We’re in 2012 here. Have a URL or domain name that you can use so you can have a nice, professional-looking e-mail address.”<br /> <br /> Don’t forget to include a slogan or something that indicates the nature of your business. “This is particularly important if your business name is your surname or something nondescript,” Attard says.<br /> <br /> Don’t forget to carefully proofread your card. “And double check e-mail address and phone numbers for accuracy,” Attard says.<br /> <br /> More Great Ideas<br /> <br /> Laminate your cards. Neave narain, owner of Mad sports (asi/259306), chose a basic color scheme for his card and then laminated it. It looks professional and is also practical. “One thing i notice about some of the cards i receive is, when i put them into a card portfolio, the ink sticks to the portfolio and comes right off the card,” narain says. “Laminated cards survive.” Make it origami.<br /> <br /> Mark Mccormack, owner of Proforma identity Marketing Group (asi/300094), has a business card which folds four different times. Clients ask if they could get five or six of them so they can pass them to friends.<br /> <br /> And ....<br /> <br /> Make it holographic.<br /> <br /> it a magnet.<br /> <br /> attach it to a mini calendar.<br /> <br /> Make it out of metal.<br /> <br /> Make it out of wood.<br /> <br /> use your imagination!

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