Helpful Marketing Hints

Every day we hand out a tiny brochure about our businesses without even realizing it.

Yet most people make the mistake of thinking printed business cards are just a vehicle for exchanging contact information. In our digital age, we have the Internet, PDAs and smart phones for that. To get real value from a business card, consider its true potential.

That commonplace card can be a key asset in your everyday marketing madness. Your business card is the one thing you should never leave home without. Ever meet a prospective customer unexpectedly while walking the dog? Or maybe you happened to spot a neglected roof in a friend's neighborhood that was just ripe for your services? While sometimes you get a chance to introduce yourself and what you do, quite often all you have is that piece of paper to leave behind. So make it intriguing

It's time to start seeing that little slip of paper for what it is: the best opportunity you have to market yourself or your business to a targeted and captive audience. After all, you chose to hand it to that person for a reason.

Here are some ways to spiff up your business card so that it collects sales, rather than dust:

  1. Give your card a purpose.
    And we're not just talking communication. Cards that multi-task will be seen far more frequently than your average business card. Turn it into a bookmark, an event ticket, a note card, scratch card or sticker. Make it a conversation piece and your business will automatically become a part of the conversation.
  2. Track it.
    Include a QR code or SKU on your business card, and whenever you hand it out, give the recipient an incentive like discounts or coupons for checking out your site. This way, you'll be able to track the rate at which your card compels people to action. If the current design and incentive doesn't work, you can always try another
  3. Challenge people.
    Surprise people with a fun fact or figure on your business card. Think about a Trivial-Pursuit-style question or piece of trivia that applies to your business. For example, adding a simple fact -- "You're more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad" -- could spur a conversation about new marketing channels and strategies, with business owners frustrated by their existing marketing efforts. Engage and amuse people when they read your card and your business will stand out.
  4. Add credibility with testimonials.
    Customers relate to other customers. Because of that, testimonials speak volumes. Consider adding a brief quote or link to a quote on the back of your business card. It's a great way to use valuable space that otherwise goes to waste.
  5. Support a cause.
    Social impact and business go hand-in-hand these days. Let people know about causes that drive you. Use your card as a vehicle to make a difference, and recipients will gain a better understanding of what drives you as a person and a professional. For example, you can include: "Proud supporters of Feeding America."
  6. Explain what you have to offer
    Besides telling people who you are and where to contact you, make sure your business card tells people what you do. Hopefully your company name or your title says something about what you offer. If they don't, add a few words to explain what you do. Either way, express what you do that makes you stand out. Let the world know about your "secret sauce" with a specific tag line or header. What perks and special services do you provide?

    • "Fresh ingredients, free delivery"
    • "Evening and weekend appointments available"
    • "Certified technicians that come to you"
    • "Best of [Your Town] Award Winner"
    • "Perfect events for every occasion"
  7. Include a call to action or food for thought
    Make space on your business cards to give prospects an enticing reason to call or visit, such as:

    • "Free consultation with this card - $50.00 value!"
    • "Visit for current specials"
    • "Exclusive titles available only at this location"
    • "Learn to speed read now and gain 87 hours this year"
    • If this approach doesn't fit your company or position or you think it sounds too promotional, you could include a revealing or humorous quote or statistic. Use something that piques interest about you and your offering, reflects your sensibilities and tells the recipient you care about your work.

    • "Life's too short to be miserable in your job"
    • "The details are not the details. They make the design." - Charles Eames
    • "Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality." -- Clifton Fadiman
    • "40% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35"
  8. Distribute strategically and considerately
    Think of your business cards as tiny billboards with the potential to attract just the right people at just the right time.
  9. Don't be afraid to post them on public bulletin boards, stick them in doors or leave them in bowls for free drawings where your target audience might see them. Ask affiliated businesses to allow you to display your cards, such as paint stores if you're a painting contractor. Keep them at your fingertips at parties, on airplanes and at the gym.

    Capitalize on natural opportunities to hand them out when you're talking about your business or someone asks how to contact you.

  10. Maximize content and usability
    You're not limited to the front of your business cards, unless you want to use. Why not use the back for other info that you want to make available, such as office hours, client list or a small map to your store. Another option is to use a folded business card as a mini brochure.
  11. Keep in mind that people often write on business cards, so leaving some white space on the back is generally a good idea.

  12. Catch people off guard.

    Just because you’re not at a networking event doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to people you come across about your service. While you’re in line at the bank, sitting at the coffee shop, or in the repair shop waiting room, be mindful of those around you and ways you may be able to connect. Hint: Well-placed and honest compliments, or finding something in common, are great ways to strike up conversations.

    If you’ve done any searching online for this kind of thing, you’ve probably also come across some ideas of your own. Unfortunately, many of them are just plain absurd. (Taping my business card to a public toilet? Thanks, but I really don’t want my services being associated with … that).

Here are some of the more common but higher quality ways to get your card out there that might also spark a new idea for you:

  • Include a few business cards in everything you mail out.
  • Ask friends and family to carry your cards and distribute when they see fit.
  • Check with your local Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center to see if they have a place for local businesses to leave cards and brochures.
  • Ask to leave cards at businesses where your service would connect with that clientele.
  • Leave them on community boards around town.
  • Slide a card in books and magazines related to your service.
  • Give more than one business card when you hand them out, so they have one to keep and one or two to give away.
  • When it comes down to it, nothing beats meeting someone face-to-face for the first impression and letting your business card be the lasting impression. However, it’s just as important to keep your name and information out there— even when you’re not.

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