Business Cards Still Have Value
One of the most frequent requests I have heard throughout my career is “May I have your card?” Whether it’s a sales call or business-to-business (B2B) networking, the practice of swapping business cards is the most common way to make an introduction. So why do so many sales people and business owners arrive at meetings, appointments and trade shows without them?
I’m always surprised when, during the “get to know you” part of a networking meeting, someone in the room announces they have “forgotten their cards”. Or when someone visits our booth at a trade show and is unable to leave a card because they don’t have any with them. In sales, forgetting your business cards is like forgetting your pants!
Remembering key information about the people you’ve met
The most effective way I’ve found to remember people I’ve met is to retain their business cards. During our conversations, I often take quick notes on the back of the cards that I can refer to later, such as jotting down a reminder about something from our meeting, an action item I have agreed to or something they have committed to me.
Once back at my desk, I review the stack of cards, and scan them into my CRM. I write thank you notes, delegate action items, pass along leads and the myriad of follow up details that occur after a business trip. Without the cards, I’m left only with an attendee roster and pads of paper.
Information that should be included on a business card
Your cards should include your name, phone number, company website, e-mail and company logo. In this day and age, there is no reason your business cards shouldn’t be in full-color and in a font that is easy to read. In addition, you could include discounts, coupons, punchers or any call to action that will add value to your business card.
Proofreading avoids costly mistakes!
Make sure you proofread your business cards before they are printed. Once you print, you can’t turn back (without paying extra for reprints). Here’s an easy trick to use when proofreading to ensure what is to be printed is correct: Read each line backwards, from left to right and from bottom to top. This will force you to look at each word and number, instead of only skimming the information that you are so familiar with.
Extending the usefulness of your business cards
Also, have your cards printed on a paper stock that someone can actually write on. I recommend that you like the glossy style on the front, then use a matte or uncoated finish on the back side. If your cards are plastic or a dark color they will be less useful to those who receive them, especially if they, like you, take notes on cards. While business cards that look and feel like credit or gift cards may be beautiful, you need to still make sure that they are functional as well.
Utilizing logos, graphics and alternative languages
Establish your brand by always using your company logo on your marketing, including in your business cards. Associations, many banks and vendors have specific rules regarding the use of their logos, so be sure to ask them if you can include those for credibility purposes. Additionally, be sure to include any logos (that you are entitled to use) that might lend further credibility to your business, such as from a trade association, chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau.
If you conduct business in languages in addition to English, you might consider having your contact information printed on the back of your business card in these other languages. Or, you might add a line to your business card such as, “Se Habla Espanol.”
Have your business cards nearby no matter where you are
Keep a supply of business cards in your wallet, briefcase, car, computer bag and desk, and invest in a simple business card holder to protect the cards and keep them looking crisp and clean.
Many sales managers monitor their sales staffs’ activities based on the number of business cards each rep collects during the day. You can easily rate the effectiveness of your daily routine by counting the cards your collect. You’ll have a better idea of how many leads you’re generating if you give a card each time you receive one.
Your business cards are one of the most productive pieces of collateral you will generate. Consider them the seeds of your business, and scatter them widely. Use them! Trust me when I say, they are certainly not irrelevant in todays business marketplace.