16 Ways to Make Your Business Cards Unforgettable

Every time you hear someone say “May I have one of your business cards?” you should get excited. I know I do. That’s because I LOVE my cards. I spent thousands of dollars on printing, several hours on designing and went through 10 different layouts until I got them right.

And it was all worth it.

A business card is an entrepreneur’s best friend, his most valuable marketing tool and an essential element to becoming UNFORGETTABLE. Unfortunately, too many people have business cards that simply blend into the multitude of cookie cutter crap. And that’s a shame, because a business card is more powerful than you think.

Of course, it’s impossible to know this unless you actually have a card that’s really, really good. Therefore, this article will examine The Four Corners of Unforgettable Business Cards:

1. Stacking Up

2. Standing Out

3. Creative Enhancement

4. Implementation

CORNER #1: How Does Your Card Stack Up?

Think back to the last trade show, networking event, seminar, convention, social hour or association meeting you attended. How did people react to your business card? Did they compliment its design? Quickly shove it into their pocket? Show it to someone else? Rip it up?

Whatever the response was, your card made some type of impression. But only the most creative, unique and memorable business cards make UNFORGETTABLE impressions. And those types of cards elicit reactions like…

  • “I showed your card to everybody in my office!” says a hot prospect.
  • “Can I have another one? A friend of mine will LOVE this!” exclaims your tablemate.
  • “Oooh! I want one too!” begs the person in looking over your shoulder.
  • “Hey…can you show my friend Paul your business card!” asks a colleague of yours.
  • “You know, I’ve never thrown your card away!” says one of your customers.
  • If you’ve ever heard a compliment along those lines before, congrats! You’re on the right track.

    That reminds me of Gus. He and I sat next to each other at a sales seminar a few years ago. During the program, the facilitator asked the audience members to exchange cards and get to know each other. Gus’s card was amazing: thick, colorful, double sided, bold, shiny and best of all, simple. (That was no surprise – he was in advertising!) But it was one of the best I’d ever seen. So we introduced ourselves, exchanged cards and talked for a few minutes. And that was about it. Nice guy, I thought.

    Now, here’s the cool part: although Gus and I didn’t really keep in touch, I’ve never thrown his card away. I show it to everyone! In fact, I even use it as a prop in some of my networking workshops! His card was just that good.

    Is yours that good? Keep that question in the back of your mind as you read on. Now let’s move into the next section and find out why certain cards stand out more than others.

    CORNER # 2: Standing Out

    Recently I took 66 business cards I’ve collected over the years and spread them out on a table. I closed my eyes for 30 seconds, opened them and took note of which cards stood out the most. And here’s what I noticed:

  • Red: every card that had red on it stood out.
  • Picture: only a few cards had pictures of the cardholder. This not only made them stand out, but helped me connect faces with names and companies.
  • Vertical: several cards were formatted vertically, which caught my eye.
  • Black Background: most cards have a white background, so the black ones REALLY stood out.
  • Image: cards with some sort of colorful image that took up at least one fourth of the total surface area captured my interest.
  • (To view a high quality image of this game of 66 Card Pick Up, go to http://hellomynameisscott.blogspot.com/2005/03/does-your-business-card-stand-out.html)

    This was a valuable exercise in understanding UNFORGETTABLE business cards, and I recommend it to everyone. Try it out! Gather dozens of accumulated cards from your desk and discover which ones stand out. Oh, and don’t forget to put your OWN card in the pile. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

    Or don’t see.

    CORNER #3: Creative and Unique Ways to Enhance Your Card

    Now that you’ve analyzed your own card and have been exposed to a large quantity of other people cards, your mind should be swimming with new, creative ideas. This is the perfect time to brainstorm ways to enhance your card. So, grab a blank sheet of paper. Come up with as many ideas as possible. Let your creativity run wild! And to help you get started, here’s a list of 16 creative ideas to make your business card UNFORGETTABLE:

    1. Size or Shape – Rectangle, schmectangle. I’ve seen squares, circles, ovals and triangles. Each shape made a connection to the brand, and each shape stood out amidst the endless regression of the same old rectangles.

    2. Chocolate Business Cards (yes, these DO exist) – Several companies have online catalogues for personalized chocolate cards. Expensive? Yes. Delicious? Probably. Memorable? You better believe it.

    3. Trading Cards – If your company is team oriented, get trading cards with your “players” pictures and stats. Then encourage your customers and prospects to “collect all 12!”

    4. Cartoons – Get a custom cartoon commissioned for the back of your card. It’s cheap, royalty free and absolutely unique to your business.

    5. Table/Chart – Include a mortgage loan interest table or some staggering statistics on the back. These are helpful reminders for the mathematically challenged and effective methods to position yourself as a resource.

    6. Pop-Ups – Just like kid’s books, some business cards can be printed as folded, pop-up cards. Talk about thinking three-dimensionally!

    7. Credibility – The smartest thing I ever did to my business card was add color images of my two books. Instant credibility. And, I noticed an immediate change in the reactions from the people to whom I gave cards. One lady even said, “Scott, this is the coolest business card I’ve ever seen!” Money well spent.

    8. Rubber Stamps – Buy 10 different customized rubber stamps for the backs of your cards. When someone asks for one just say “Pick a card, any card!”

    9. Die Cutting – My friend Lisa works for the Rock Island Fire Dept. Her business card has a charred hole burnt right through the middle of every card! It looks incredibly real. And most printers offer this feature for a nominal feel. You can also specify various shapes, bite marks or hole sizes.

    10. Recipe – If you work in an industry connected to food, kitchens or homes; include one of your favorite recipes on the back!

    11. Material – Use leather, blinking or brail business cards (yes, these actually exist too!)

    12. Language – If your business requires international travel, consider offering multiple languages, or print the phonetic spelling of a difficult to pronounce name.

    13. Motivation – If you’re the motivational type, include a famous quotation, bible verse or movie line that connects to your brand. And be sure to read it aloud when you give someone your card, it might just make their day!

    14. Stickers – Print one side of your cards on adhesive label paper. This gives the recipient a peel off sticker for reminders, appointments or phone numbers.

    15. Non-Cards – Who says a card has to be a card? After all, the first rule of creativity is “break all the rules!” I’ve seen million dollar bill cards, coin cards, even a banker in Boston who uses business cards that are actually miniature checks he tears off of a pad each time he gives one out! The possibilities are endless.

    16. Double Up – Make your card “double” as something other than a card. For example, mine doubles as a business card AND a nametag. As a result, people stick it on their shirts all the time. Thanks for the free promotion!

    CORNER #4: Implementation

    Once you’ve come up with the layout for your new, creative, UNFORGETTABLE business card, there are only two things left to do: print ’em up and hand ’em out!

    First, as you approach you printer, remember a few rules:

  • It’s OK to Spend Money – when I did my taxes this year I calculated that I reprinted my business cards 11 times and spent over $1,400 on printing costs. I also doubled my income from the previous year. Once again, money well spent.
  • Local is Better – by choosing a local printer you can work closely with the designers; touch, feel and smell your paper and even do a few test runs until you get the card perfect. Some businesspeople choose to use online sources, which is fine. The only problem with that approach is that most cards designed, created and ordered over the Internet look like they were designed, created and ordered over the Internet.
  • OK. Once you have your new cards in hand, keep a few final rules in mind:

  • Reminders – be sure to tell people you’ve got a new card. They’ll be happy to accept it, even if they already have your old one. Highlight some of its newest, most unique attributes. Also, if you printed on both sides of your new card, remember to either tell people about the back of your card; or hand them the card back side up, so they know there’s more to it.
  • Etiquette – don’t “Deal the Deck” by inconsiderately throwing thousands of your cards to everyone in sight. If so, you will not only become a practitioner of Highly Horrible Networking(TM), but you will waste your money. Remember: people throw away business cards from those who failed to establish rapport or make a connection.
  • The Card Creedo: finally, when you’re ready, reach into your pocket and grab one of your business cards. Look at it closely. Then say this affirmation out loud:
  • “This is my business card. There are many others out there, but none of them are like mine – because there’s nobody else like me. My business card is not a formality. It’s not a piece of paper containing my name and contact information. And it’s not another annoying thing to keep in my pocket. My business card is the most important networking tool that I own. It’s a reflection of my personal brand and a bite-sized morsel of the mission of my business. I LOVE my business card. And I can’t wait until somebody asks me for one. Because when they do, I will find a way to give that person value.”

    After you’ve face lifted your business card from unacceptable to unforgettable, I promise you will feel great. Your confidence will skyrocket. And from that moment on, every time someone asks, “May I have one of your business cards?” it will be like music to your ears.

    Business Cards – Essential Marketing Tools For Your Business

    Your business card is one of the most important, cost-effective and versatile marketing tools you have. How come? Because they’re inexpensive, easy to carry with you and easy to get in front of people. Especially for businesses just starting out.

    However, your card needs to make a great impression. A well-designed business card can effectively promote your business, but there’s a good chance that if your card looks unprofessional, it may be thrown in the dustbin or just lie in a drawer, collecting dust. Your business card needs to tell people what you and your business is about, instead of only telling people who you are and where to contact you.

    Planning, designing and having your cards printed.

    For your business card to be the marketing tool it should be, there are a few things you must take into consideration when planning and designing your cards.

    1. Get professional quality business cards printed for you. Sure, you could print them on your laser jet and cut them with scissors. You’ll get what you pay for and worse than that, people will question whether they can trust you with their business if it seems you can’t afford to print full colour business cards.
    2. Pay attention to the finer details on your card. A logo is important, so invest some time and effort in the design of your logo to make it stand out in the crowd.
    3. A thin, flimsy card, pre-made, off the shelf design and small or unreadable text makes a bad impression. Use colour and images for impact and good design principles to make your business card pleasing and easy to read.
    4. Be proactive and keep your information up to date. If any of your contact or other information has changed, you will appear to be disorganized when you have to scratch out and write new information on your card, so throw away those cards and have new, up to date ones printed.
    5. If possible hire a graphic designer to help you. They are professional and know what works and what does’nt.
    6. Maximize the usability of your card. You’re not limited to only the front of your business cards. Use the back of your card for more information. Keep in mind that people often write on business cards, so leaving some white space on the back is generally a good idea.
    7. Your company name or your title tells someone what you have to offer. If it does’nt, add some words to explain what you do. Showing what you do makes you stand out. Let everyone who sees your card know what services you provide.
    8. Avoid making the following mistakes when you have your cards made. It can cost you dearly.

    Having a card that doesn’t stand out in the crowd.

    Your card must look great, feel sturdy and clearly define what your business does – and you and your card will be remembered.

    Technology makes it easier and more affordable than ever to have cards designed and printed that will get someone’s attention and at the same time look businesslike and appealing.

    Don’t have a card that’s a mystery to everybody.

    You are not going to get many calls if someone looks at your business card and can’t tell immediately what your business does.

    A card with information overload.

    Too much information printed on your card will make it look too busy and totally unprofessional. Keeping it simple is best. It’s necessary to have your name, your company, what you do, and why you should be used – but supply all your contact details; you want to be easy to reach.

    Using too small text.

    Using a small font, you may be able to supply more information, but what good is it if people can’t read it? A good guideline is to use a type size no smaller than 7-8 point. Make your company name the largest and your name and maybe your cell number a bit larger than the rest.

    Not using colour properly.

    Use colour in your cards to brighten them up and make them appealing. Avoid printing a dark colour on a darkish background or a light colour on a light background, for instance printing grey on white to make it look like silver. It just does’nt work.

    Strategically distributing your cards to help your marketing campaign.What does it help you to have a box full of business cards if they’re not being used to market and promote your business?

    Always keep some of your cards on you wherever you go. Hand a card to someone when appropriate, and while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to give out more than one. Invite people to pass the extras along to others who might need your service. You might be surprised at how often this can result in a referral.

    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 a hardware store if you’re a building contractor or a plumber.

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

    Keeping in mind all of the above ideas and information, your business card will definitely work for you and attract business – and still at a very affordable price.

    50 Surefire Business Card Tips

    Business cards are one of the most powerful and inexpensive marketing tools you can use. Here are 50 surefire tips to make the most out of your business cards:

    • Your business card must communicate more than just your contact information. Make sure that your card includes a tag line that explains what you or your company do.
    • Order them in large numbers. By ordering 1000 your cost per card will be significantly lower than if you ordered 500.
    • Even if you can produce your business cards at home using an inkjet printer, have your business cards professionally made by a printing company. Your business card will be the first impression your prospects receive of your business, so let them convey the best possible one.
    • Avoid using standard clip art as your business logo. A logo brings credibility and brand awareness, so before you invest in business cards have a logo professionally made for your business. Nowadays, there are online companies that can produce a professional logo for as little as $25, so there is no excuse for not having one made.
    • Put up a website and use the URL in your business cards. If you don’t have a website, people will notice the absence of a web address in your business card and, depending on the business you are in, it may make you lose credibility.
    • Keep all the information in your business card current. If you changed address or phone number, don’t scratch the old number and write down the new one by hand; get new business cards.
    • Keep your business card simple. Don’t use too many fonts or try to cram too much information in it. Try to use a pleasant layout and make sure that your main message (your tagline or your unique selling proposition) doesn’t get lost.
    • If you live in the US, limit your business card size to 3.5″ x 2″. Anything bigger will not fit in standard card holders and your card may end up in the trash. Business cards in Europe tend to be larger, but so are the wallets and card holders.
    • Make sure that your business card reflects your image. If you are an artist or a graphic designer, it is OK to use trendy colors and fonts. If you are an investment banker, a sober layout and colors such as blue or gray work better.
    • Your business card is an integral part of your brand or corporate identity strategy. It should follow the same graphics standards as the rest of your communications material (stationary, brochures, letterheads, etc.).
    • Find a way to make your business cards stand out. I’ve seen business cards with one of its corners cut in an angle, or with an interesting texture, all of which makes your business card stand out of the crowd. The best one I’ve seen is from an interior designer, who used a hologram to show a room before and after a redesign.
    • Make your business card easy to read: use high contrast between the background and the type. Light background with dark type works better.
    • After your logo, your name should be the largest piece of information on your card.
    • Make sure that all the information on your card is printed in a large enough typeface to be easily readable.
    • Run your business card copy through a spell checker and double-check your contact information.
    • Keep your business cards with you at all times. Keep a stack in your car, in your house, in your office, and in your wallet.
    • Leave your business cards in billboards at supermarkets, schools, stores, libraries, etc.
    • When giving away your card, give two or three at a time, so that your contacts can in turn distribute them to other people. This will not only help you distribute them faster, but will generate a beneficial “endorsing effect”.
    • Include a business card with all your correspondence. People may throw away the letter, but will usually keep the business card.
    • Make your business card go the extra mile: use the back of the card to print more information: special offers, checklists, schedules, etc.
    • Throw in a business card in every product you ship.
    • Send a business card with any gift you send, instead of just a card with your name.
    • Scan your card and use it as an attachment to emails.
    • Use your business cards as name tags. Get a transparent plastic cover with a pin, and attach it to your lapel. Wearing it on your right side tends to make it more noticeable.
    • Use your business card as a name tag on your briefcase. Make sure that your company logo and tagline are visible. This way, your business card will turn into a “conversation piece” during plane rides, which may help you meet interesting people and good business contacts.
    • Use your business card as an ad: many publications offer “business card size” classified ads. If you design your business card properly, it can double up as an ad in those publications.
    • Don’t give your business card too quickly. It may be perceived as pushy. Try to establish a conversation with your prospect first. For example, ask them what do they do. That will usually prompt them to give you their card. That is the perfect moment to give them yours.
    • Don’t try to give your card in situations where many people are giving them to your prospect. Wait for a moment when you can capture your prospect’s attention span.
    • Another tactic you can try when your prospect is overwhelmed and can’t pay you enough attention is to send your card by mail. Pretend you ran out of business cards and ask for theirs. Then, mail them your card and take the opportunity to drop a follow up note.
    • If you have a mobile phone number or a direct phone number that is not listed in your business card, write it at the back of your card before handing it out, and tell your prospect that you are giving them your direct number. This will make your card more important, and less likely to be lost or thrown out.
    • Another way of increasing the chances that your prospect will keep your card is by printing valuable information on the back, for example important phone numbers (local police, hospitals, etc), a calendar, or a football schedule.
    • Offer to hand out cards of complementary (non-competitive) business people in exchange for them distributing yours. An example of non-competitive businesses is real estate brokers and mortgage brokers.
    • If somebody gives you their business card, you should give them yours in return.
    • Always give your business card face up.
    • Take a cue from Far East business people, who hand out business cards with both hands. It helps give the impression that your business card is something very important.
    • If you conduct business internationally, use the back of your card to print a translated version of your business card in your customers’ language. Even if they have no problem reading English, it will be a classy touch and they will appreciate it.
    • If you sell different product brands and want to put their logos on your business card, print them in only one color. Using each logo’s brand colors could make your business card look chaotic and busy.
    • Create a business card in magnet form. Magnets are widely used, to hold important papers on the refrigerator door at home and on file cabinets at work. They are always visible and always get read.
    • When receiving somebody else’s business card, don’t put it away immediately. Instead, keep it in your hand for a while you talk to your prospect, or place it neatly over the table, and try to develop a conversation based on the information on the card.
    • Use the back of the cards you receive to write down important facts about the persons who handed them to you. It will help you enormously when you follow up with them.
    • If you are in a profession where relationship selling is important, it may be a good idea to include your picture in your business card (i.e. real estate brokers).
    • Even if your business is a sole proprietorship, you can still use “account manager” as your title instead of “owner” or “president”. If you do sales (and we all do) “account manager” is a perfectly appropriate title, and it will give the impression that you work for a larger company.
    • Use logos of organizations that you or your business belong to in your business cards. They are an easy way to provide instant credibility to your business. For example, if you operate a repair shop you can display the logo of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) or the Triple A (AAA). (Check with them first about the terms of use).
    • If you participate in affiliate programs online, you can still use business cards to promote your affiliate links. Use the name of the affiliate company as the company name, use ‘partner’ or ‘associate’ as your title, and the URL of the directory or web page where you have placed your affiliate links as your web address. Just because affiliate programs are online doesn’t mean that you can’t use off-line marketing methods to promote them.
    • If you need to give cards to different kinds of prospects (for example if you are a student looking for work), make business cards with just your name and contact information, and attach custom made self-adhesive labels at the back with information of interest to each specific prospect.
    • Include an information email address (for example: [email protected]) that is set in autoresponder mode, that automatically triggers an email message with full information about your product, service or company. This will increase the effectiveness of your business card since you will give your prospect much more information that you can fit in a card.
    • Take good care of your business cards. Keep them clean and crisp in a cardholder. Don’t give away cards that are bent or damaged.
    • Try to get a cardholder with two pockets. That way, you can use one for your business cards and the other one for the business cards you receive.
    • Keep all the business cards you receive neatly organized in a rolodex. It will save you time and will provide you with a database of contacts with whom to build positive business relationships.
    • Collect all the business cards you can find, even if you don’t need them. Together, they will act as an “idea file” that will provide you with valuable tips that you can use to design your business cards.