Today’s business card is more than a small piece of cardboard with your business name and phone number. It is the first impression—and a lasting impression—left with current and potential clients. “Like any piece of design work that you hand out to clients, it will always be a spokesman for your company or business when you are not around,” said Renee Lama, owner and designer of RG Lama Studios.
Compared to your overall advertising and marketing budget, business cards are physically the smallest piece and the least expensive investment you can make. Despite being small in size and low in cost, business cards are arguably one of the most important expenses for your business.
More Than a Name and Number
A business card is your first opportunity to set yourself apart from other clinics offering similar services. That being said, your card should include more than a business name and phone number.
A logo or image that is representative of the services provided should also be included. “Your logo is your identity and helps customers recognize your business,” Lama said.
An email address and website are also critical pieces of information. “So many people conduct business online nowadays,” she added.
Depending on the frequency with which you use social media and the role it plays in your business, including your Twitter handle, LinkedIn address or Facebook page may be equally important.
Cards designed to serve more than one function can do more than promote your business. A multipurpose business card can double as a coupon, an appointment reminder and more. For example, the face of your card could include pertinent contact information while the back of the card could provide space to schedule upcoming vaccinations or follow-up appointments for injured or sick horses.
More is not always better. Carefully consider the information clients need. Including a list of services is appropriate, but be concise. Do not include everything; just have enough to give customers a reminder of who you are and why they picked up your card in the first place. Too much information or too many images on your card can become cluttered and hard to read, said Lama.
Is it time to redesign your business card? Your first step might be choosing between working with a graphic designer or opting to go it alone and use an online service that provides predesigned templates.
A graphic designer will charge either a flat fee or an hourly rate to create several samples from which you can choose. In addition to providing input on paper weight and type, a professional designer can also help you organize your business card in a way that will appeal to your clients.
“They (the designer) will make sure everything is spelled correctly and that the design is the best possible choice for you and your business—because your card is not only a reflection of your business or company, it’s a reflection of the designer’s, as well,” she said.
Decide to do it yourself? Online services such as VistaPrint, Staples and OfficeMax provide predesigned business card templates. Typically there are no fees to use the templates, only to print the cards once the design is finished.
“When choosing a template, keep in mind what service or product you are providing and make sure the colors and design style reflect your company,” Lama cautioned, adding, “I saw a local recycling business use a (pre-designed) template and the card was way too antique-y and frilly for a recycling place.”
A final, though not recommended, option is to purchase business card paper at an office supply store to print the business cards on a home or office printer. Lama cautioned that cards printed at home can create a less-than-professional image.
Potential clients might never choose to use your services based on your business card alone, but they will definitely avoid using your practice if the business card reflects a lack of attention to detail.
“I have come across business cards that were cut so crooked it turned me off to the business,” Lama said, “not just because of what I do for a living, but my thought is that if they don’t take much pride in a card that represents their business when they are not around, how much pride do they take in their actual business?”
As mentioned, you can list your website and social media channels on your business card. Don’t forget you can print on the front and back of a card.
QR Codes (quick response codes) are those specialized, squiggly bar codes that lead you to a digital endpoint. People use their smartphones and an app to “take a picture” of the QR code, which takes them immediately to someplace online. No typing in a link from a print URL. Creating QR codes is easy and free, and the readers are also free. While you might not have a lot of your clients who use the readers, using a QR code to link to your website or to a video that explains who you are and what you do can be an attractive way to get clients to further investigate you and your practice.
The size and shape of your business card also can be standard or large, or you can pick unusual shapes and sizes. Some people choose a folding business card that gives four “pages” or flaps to print on, and some will print so the card reads vertically rather than horizontally. These are options that you can discuss with your designer.
The colors and typeface also are critical to giving a first impression of who you are. Make sure you keep types and colors simple and easy to read.
Remember, image is everything and the image your business card portrays is no different. Whether you decide to design your own card with a predesigned template or hire a professional designer, your business card is a constant reminder of what you do and the quality of work you provide.