“No honey, we can’t get business cards for the cats!”

Mantra: I will capitalize on my personal brand, I will...ohhhh, squeaky mice!

These words cheerfully greeted me from my computer screen when I staggered out of bed to check up on what happened on Twitter last night. The first thing I did was laugh (really, really hard) at the mental picture of what my three furry feline monsters would do if I handed them a stack of business cards. Tooth marks would definitely mark them as theirs!

The second thing I did was scroll down the screen. Apparently, cats aren’t the only ones dipping their feet in the business card pool. There were dozens of posts featuring creative card ideas and clever new swings.

Then there was the woman who suggested exchanging mommy business cards should be standard etiquette for play dates. This one stopped me in my tracks. Business cards? When my kids were little, contact information for other moms was scrawled on napkins or paper doilies and slapped up on the fridge. I found the concept of entire business cards with the name of the mother and child and their contact information laid neatly out both intriguing and oddly frightening.

Once upon a time, business cards were reserved for salesmen and high level executives. Now we’re seeing them everywhere, from mommy bloggers to job seeking college kids. Cats might be a new one, but somehow I don’t doubt that there are a number of show pooches out there with their own calling cards, carefully cultivating their personal brand.

So let me ask you this. How far is too far when it comes to promoting your personal brand? Is the easy availability of business cards leading us to overdo it, or are we just seeing the newest trend? Will business cards soon become as commonplace as cell phones? What do you think?

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What’s the most important thing you put on your business cards?

We all grew up with the cut and dried template of the perfect business card dangled in front of our faces. The one that listed our name, our company, our job title and our company information. Back when there were only a handful of businesses running around. Your customers have a little bit more to choose from these days.

With that in mind, your business card has to do a lot more than just toss out your name and your phone number. So what’s the most important thing your business cards should say?

Your job title isn’t enough. Somewhere on your card should be a description of your services. Are you a carpet specialist or a carpet installation specialist? A cleaner? A master of carpet repair? “Specialist” is a widely used frame that’s way too broad for most of today’s niche businesses. If your would-be customers don’t see your particular niche when they look at your card, you’re going to get filed back in the part of their brain that isn’t going to remember you next week.

Are any of the “old” components you were putting on when you were printing your business cards any less important just because you’re thinking about starting fresh? Absolutely not. These “fresh” cards should still have your name on there somewhere. That lets you capitalize on any personal connection you hope to build. You need not only a phone number, but also an email address and website URL where they can go for more information on your businesses and services.

A fax number is good, although not necessarily essential. It’s a small step for most people to pick up the phone, call a business and ask for their fax number.

What’s the most important thing you put on your business cards?

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Hey! Your business card said you’re a schmuck!

Oops.

business card, person

"My business card says I didn't want you to call me anyway."

Did you know your business cards were whispering behind your back? Telling your customers things that you’d really rather they didn’t hear?

They’re sneaky like that.

So What Do Your Business Cards Have to Say?

You don’t have a creative bone in your body.

With the sheer quantity of options on the table for business cards these days, it’s hard to understand why people are still handing out black and white cards with nothing but text on them.

You don’t understand the concept of branding.

I see this a LOT with people who don’t understand the message their business cards are sending out. Your business card IS the first impression people are going to have of your company. Its texture, cut, color all blend together to create an image of you and the services you provide.

If you’re promoting yourself as a warm, friendly, easy to work with service provider and your business cards are harsh and austere, you’re sending out a mixed message that ends up with you shuffled to the back of the line.

You’re SERIOUSLY over-estimating your memorability.

Business cards lacking your name, contact information and a reasonable description of the services you offer are going to leave people clueless when they pull it back out later on. Make sure your card not only sending the right message and providing enough information to go along with it.

 

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November 27th they were signed, sealed and sitting on the corner of our kitchen table waiting to be delivered. Newspapers? Nope, good old fashioned family Christmas cards.

My mother was a fanatic about making sure they went out right after Thanksgiving, and while I hated spending hours licking envelopes and putting on stamps I always got the point when some random family member we hadn’t spoken to in years called us up and said, “Thank you so much for the Christmas card! I didn’t think you’d even remember me!”

You can’t buy that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Fast forward a few years and it’s time to dole out that warm fuzzy feeling again. How? By sending holiday cards from your business to your clientele. When you take the time to send a Christmas card (especially if you sign them by hand…or at the very least, scan and print your signature) you will:

• Show your clients you value their business, but more importantly…

• Prove to your clients there’s a person behind the corporation.

These days, it’s all about making that personal connection-and what better way to make that connection than with a little holiday cheer?

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It’s the question of the century-if you’re going to be launching an online business, how much offline advertising do you really need to do? Should you take the time to launch a full-scale marketing campaign, or should you just trust the Internet to get you where you need to go? Is taking money out of your (already stretched too thin) marketing budget to create business cards a wise move, or should you continue pumping it into your PPC campaign and leave well enough alone?

It’s not hard to dismiss the importance of business cards, especially when you’re not going to be wining and dining clients (and, by default, not necessarily going to be passing your business card out to every Tom, Dick and Harry that happens to come your way). An online business is firmly rooted out in cyberspace, and many online business owners who are just starting out don’t feel the overwhelming need to tie their web-based business to an offline marketing effort that’s going to eat up their money-especially when 90% of those business cards are going to be left to sit, unused, for who knows how long.

Now, if you’ll note, I said that only new online business owners don’t put thought into business cards. Why? Because as any savvy business owner can tell you, any business is good business. When you hand a business card for your online business to someone you’re talking to, what do you think is the first thing they’re going to do? They’re going to go home and look you up online. If they like what they see, they’re going to refer you to their friends, their family, their buddies online and anyone else they think might benefit from your services.

Why sacrifice that kind of networking ability when it’s sitting at your fingertips?

Let’s face it, we live in an online society. Husbands and wives “chat” with each other across the room instead of actually turning around to speak. With the online and offline worlds blended that smoothly, picking up business cards for your online business is really just good sense.

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