Every day we hand out a tiny brochure about our businesses without even realizing it. Look at the stacks on your desk, the deck in your drawer or the stash in your wallet. Business cards, in all sizes, shapes and colors, are everywhere. And yet, while we all understand that a business card is a necessity, we often fail to see it as a marketing opportunity.
It's time to start seeing that little slip of paper for what it is: the best opportunity you have to market yourself or your business to a targeted and captive audience. After all, you chose to hand it to that person for a reason.
Here are six ways to spiff up your business card so that it collects sales, rather than dust:
1. Give your card a purpose. And we're not just talking communication. Cards that multi-task will be seen far more frequently than your average business card. Turn it into a bookmark, an event ticket, a note card, scratch card or sticker. Make it a conversation piece and your business will automatically become a part of the conversation.
2. Track it. Include a QR code or SKU on your business card, and whenever you hand it out, give the recipient an incentive like discounts or coupons for checking out your site. This way, you'll be able to track the rate at which your card compels people to action. If the current design and incentive doesn't work, you can always try another.
3. Challenge people. Surprise people with a fun fact or figure on your business card. Think about a Trivial-Pursuit-style question or piece of trivia that applies to your business. For example, adding a simple fact -- "You're more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad" -- could spur a conversation about new marketing channels and strategies, with business owners frustrated by their existing marketing efforts. Engage and amuse people when they read your card and your business will stand out.
4. Add credibility with testimonials. Customers relate to other customers. Because of that, testimonials speak volumes. Consider adding a brief quote or link to a quote on the back of your business card. It's a great way to use valuable space that otherwise goes to waste.
5. Support a cause. Social impact and business go hand-in-hand these days. Let people know about causes that drive you. Use your card as a vehicle to make a difference, and recipients will gain a better understanding of what drives you as a person and a professional. For example, you can include: "Proud supporters of Feeding America."
6. Put a face to the name. Consider putting your photo on your card so that people can continue to put a face to your name long after they've met you. A photo not only adds to the familiarity of your company's brand and increases your likeability factor, but paints a picture of you as a person. It also makes you easily recognizable from your competition.
7. Make the handoff memorable. The physical act of exchanging your card can be more valuable than the card itself. Use it as a conversation starter to better understand where the person's needs, interests or hobbies lie. As you hand out your card, mention when you will follow up and also reinforce a message about the value of your business.
What are your business card tips?
Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson co-founded crowdSPRING, a Chicago-based marketplace for custom logo design, web design, company naming and other writing and design services. They co-author the crowdSPRING blog, a marketing blog for entrepreneurs and small business.