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Form follows Function

How important is your business card to you? And more importantly, how important is it to the people you give it to?  Whilst on-line networking is proliferating it seems that face-to-face networking is also booming and more and more business cards are being passed.

Let’s keep things in perspective, our business card is of minor importance in the whole of our marketing mix and of even less importance in the context of our whole business.

So why write about it?

Because being only a small thing its important to get it right.  It’s the small things that often communicate most about the big things; sometimes disproportionately.  We may think that this is unfair and illogical.  Doesn’t matter; people will make a judgment based on first impressions.  Perhaps they shouldn’t; but they do.  And our humble business card is therefore important and merits though and consideration before they’re designed and printed.

I don’t believe that I’m particularly different form other people out there so I thought I’d share some of the things I like and dislike about the business cards I receive.  And I do receive my fair share of business cards.

Your Business Card as a Business Development Tool

Firstly, any business card is better than no business card.  There is no excuse for not always having sufficient business cards in your pocket.  By all means be discerning about whom you give it to but at least have the option of handing one over.

When a new person joins your business make sure their business cards are ready for them on their very first morning – there very first morning.  Again, no excuses.

Give everyone in your business his or her own business card.  In a small business, every person on the team (every person) needs to be looking out for new customers.  They need the tools to do the job and a business card is one of those tools.  You’ll also be amazed how motivating it is for someone relatively junior to have their own business card – and a good job title!

I like to write on business cards.  Where and when I met the person; what they were in need of; something notable about them.  I therefore find laminated cards a pain.  I also find black or dark coloured cards impossible to write on.  I like traditional white cards.

I know I’m getting on in years and my eye sight isn’t what it was but even with glasses on the type of some business cards is so small it makes it very difficult to read, particularly the phone number.  Make the type of a readable size and make it a dark colour on a light background.

And just a simple 2 sided card; folded cards are a pain to store, take up more space, don’t always fit easily into a cardholder.  And when it’s in the holder it can’t be read unless the card is taken out!

I do like cards with all the basic information you’d expect:  name, position, company name (plus a one liner that says what you do if it’s not obvious from the company name), mobile & landline, email, hash tag, website, accreditations – and all on one side of the card.

And being a visual person, I particularly like the cards that have people’s photos on them (decent ones that are professionally taken).  QR codes are good and augmented reality cards are pretty neat too.

There’s a great little app called Camcard (camcard).  You can use your phone or tablet to photograph a card and it gets stored in your Contacts with all the key information stripped off the card as if you’d typed all the information in.  It’s really neat and a great time saver.  The next time I get my cards done I will be modifying the design slightly to ensure that Camcard can pick up every detail to make it easy for any recipient of my card to scan it straight to their database.

The back of the card could carry different messages: offers, your mission statement, customer reviews, the services you offer, etc.  I like to keep quantities low when I get cards printed so that I can ring the changes with the message on back of the card.

After you’ve done all that, you can then let your designer run riot and be as creative as they like!  That’s where their skill really comes into play.  Give them a tight brief and let them be creative within those boundaries.  Form should follow function – in my opinion.

The humble business card.  And I thought I’d struggle to write 300 words!

So, form follows function in 99% of cases and it’s often the small things that communicate the most about the big things.  What do you like and dislike about the business cards you receive?  Do let me know.

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Mark Dyble

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