Value of Using Business Cards in a Small Business During Tough Economic Times

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This is the second in a series of articles on the design and use of print media for value added marketing and advertising during tough economic times.
The goal of this article is the same.
Use print media for marketing and promotion during tough economic times.
It provides the best value for your marketing dollars.
Our specific marketing goal is increase the spending base of existing customers and attract new customers.
Today we deal with business cards.
They are the most used of all printed marketing and promotional materials and in, most cases, the most cost effective.
The main goal of the business card is to give a positive first impression of you and your business while providing your contact information for further opportunity.
In addition to contact information, there are many unique applications for the standard business card that are cheap and effective in today's challenged economy.
We will discuss some of those later.
Dimensions and Paper- There are variations, but the standard dimension is typically 2" x 3.
5" inches printed vertically or horizontally.
Many business that need to convey information beyond the standard contact information will use a folding business card with dimensions of 4" x 3.
5", scored and folded in the center.
Typically, 14 point and 16 point paper are used for business cards.
Some printers are offering plastic and metal but for this writing they fall out of our value based goal.
Typical orders are in increments of 1,000s, but in these economic times, some printers are offering great deals on quantities as low as 100.
Design/Message - Again with the business card, keep your message and design simple.
A cluttered business card conveys a cluttered, unorganized business.
There are many different finishes your designer can request including matte (dull finish you can write on), UV (gloss finish you cannot write on), metallic, spot color, spot UV, rounded corners, metallic lettering or images, spot color and more.
There are also a combination of UV on the front and matte on the back which is ideal for your prospective customer or you to write on the back of the card.
A good graphic artist can help you come up the right combination to convey the message and utility of the card.
Uses - The standard use is to convey contact information that can be followed up into new business opportunities.
How you exercise that use is up to you and your personality, but always remember that you generally get one chance to leave a positive impression when meeting a prospective customer.
Let's say you meet someone at a networking meeting.
You talk and ask them for one of their business cards.
If they ask for one of yours great.
If not, don't push it on them.
Take their card and follow up with a personal note or telephone call later.
If your business centers around appointments for services, a nice touch is to have the back of your card finished in matte and include lines where you can enter the day and time of the next appointment etc.
This provides them with a reminder card and keeps your contact information in front of your customer.
The business card format may be used for referral cards.
Give five referral cards to one of your existing customers to pass out to their friends or relatives.
When you get the fifth of those cards back, provide a free or discounted service to the customer that referred their friends and relatives.
They will love it.
Another affective use of the business card format, to retain and attract new customers, is after so many uses the customer gets something free or a discounted price.
Let's use a restaurant as an example.
Cards are designed that have 10 boxes on the bottom.
Each time a customer comes to the restaurant to eat, one of the boxes is initialed or punched out.
The visit when the 10th box is punched, the customer gets a free meal.
There are thousands of variations of this type of promotion with standard business cards.
Be creative and use a good graphic artist.
Most importantly, remember to keep all of your promotional materials branded to your business for quick recognition.
That means use the same logo, colors, fonts, and themes when developing your print marketing materials.
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