Your Portable Billboard

June 30, 2009 by  Filed under: Advertising 

Question. What is:

• 2″ x 3 1/2,”
• works overtime with no complaints for very low cost and,
• never calls in sick?

Answer: your business cards.

When I have something as small as a business card working this hard for me 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, I sit up and pay attention! Let me share some ideas that have worked for me over the years.

First impressions about your professionalism are often formed from perceptions about your business card. Your “tiny billboard” is easily distributed and speaks volumes about you so care in design and printing is imperative. When working on my most recent business card design, I consumed more ice tea in brainstorming sessions than usual. Thinking about the right logo, right colors, right placement of information and the right wording took more than just a few brainstorming sessions.

The logo on your business card projects your image and perceived value in the social and business hierarchy. For example, the simple logo design Lucent Technologies has with a simple circular pattern in red connotes a direction of vitality and strength to the telecommunications industry. My logo shows a section of the earth as viewed from space to connote quality and global business. Listening to many business people over the years, a simple design, executed in an eloquent fashion, wins the most votes for acceptance.

Colors you use on your business card also communicate a powerful message. For example:

Red points to aggression, passion, strength and vitality.
Blue connotes authority, dignity, security and implies fiscal responsibility and security.
Gray portrays a somber, authority, practical, “corporate” tone.
Black illustrates a serious, distinctive, bold and classic tone.

Placement of information on your 2″ x 3 1/2″ billboard and the right wording sends silent signals to recipients. Beyond the usual information such as name, company, address and phone number are personal choices that illustrate to the world your organizational abilities and what you consider important to convey. For example, include:

• your fax number (shows you don’t want ANY barriers to communication or you don’t want to write down this information every time someone asks for your fax number),

•your web site address (same as number 1 immediately above),

•your company slogan (my slogan, “Building Your Business…one person at a time,” elicits many positive comments and gives me a chance to further my purpose) and,

•your title (I prefer to leave titles off so the recipient will not prejudge me based on a title on my business card).

Now, you have your business cards designed and printed in the image in which you want to be perceived. Let’s see how we can effectively utilize your “billboard.”

Take your business cards everywhere! Jogging, networking events (ok, this is obvious), lunch with friends on the weekend…everywhere. Why? You never know when you will encounter the contact that will change your life. When you leave home, always bring your business cards. I include about 10 cards in the opposite side of the small foldover wallet holding my important documents (driver’s license, phonecards, credit card and calendar card). These 2 1/2″ x 4″ wallets are available at major office supply stores in a variety of textures and colors (I like brown or black leather). When you “chance upon” someone who can mean a positive impact on your life, thrust out your small wallet and present your business card.

In addition to having your own business card ready to give, consider someone you meet, and want to meet again, who isn’t carrying their business cards. Again, you open your wallet, pull out two cards: one for the person to keep and the other card for the person to write their information on the back and hand back to you on the spot. People who have been privy to this method remark how impressed they are that I have my business cards ready for giving and receiving (back).

Say you meet someone who asks you for information, you can write the answer in a small space. Guess where you will write the answer? Yes, the back of your business card. One person I know keeps a set of business cards (in addition to conventional cards) that only includes his name, company name and phone number so he can take an extra moment with each contact to “fill-in-the blanks” on the back of the card in person.

When faxing information to business people, place your business card in an area of the fax cover sheet that is non-essential. You may need to use a special paper holder because of the extra thickness of the paper being faxed, but the results are worth it. Your business card has the look and the information that is hard to personalize on fax cover sheets.

As you can see, there are many applications for cards. I want to leave you with only one thought: use professionalism and creativity in your business contacts. Using good taste and creativity can insure your business card (and you) will stay in front of your target market.

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