I designed my business cards. Now what?

Jessica Sillers

We love helping people design their business cards. A great card adds a professional touch and helps capture a sense of your business’ brand identity. Sometimes, though, clients say, “We love the design! But what exactly should we do with it?” Here’s what to do after you finalize your business card design.

Be a team player

clear spa monkey business cards
You can use a unique shape to make your business cards stand out, while still using standard sizes. By design_C for Phoebe_song.

At networking events, I invariably get at least one unconventional business card. It might be square, oversized, or sometimes even cut into an unusual shape. It’s meant to make the business stand out. If you decide to go this route, make sure you think of all of the outcomes. A star-shaped card is unique, but if it pokes people’s hands and makes them want to put it down, it’s not going to work well for you.

An eye-catching design is usually enough to make you stand out from the crowd. If you choose to incorporate a different size or shape, consider how to make your card easy to manage. It should still be comfortable to hold with standard cards, whether in hand or in a pocket. And if you don’t want people to throw it away, make sure it will fit in a standard business card holder.

business card design with cutouts
If your business card has cutouts (awesome!) you should make sure you get them printed on high-quality paper. By Herminia” for R-H.

Upgrade the paper

There’s a scene in American Psycho where the main character almost explodes in a violent fury because his business card isn’t the best of the bunch. The funny thing is the cards all look virtually identical. Only subtle differences in thickness and color distinguish one from another.

You don’t need to sweat over “bone” versus “eggshell” coloring. It’s not a bad idea to consider the impact of good paper, though. Whether you prefer a matte or glossy finish, your design’s colors shouldn’t look dull or bleed. A slightly thicker paper stock won’t tear or crease easily. If you’re using design details like cutouts, sturdy paper is a must to keep your cards looking perfect.

Add a bonus

Many business owners worry that their card will get lost in a stack at a networking meeting. (You’re probably less worried than most because your designer did a spectacular job.) One way to banish lingering doubts is to add an extra perk to your business card. A 5% discount code, free 15-minute mini-lesson, or 7-day trial gives people a bonus reason to keep your card safe.

The back of your card is the best place for a special offer, so your main design stays clean. If you already have design elements on the back and want to add a promotional offer, talk to your designer about the best way to add it in.

Think outside the conference

One mistake business owners make is only bringing their card to networking events. (In fact, it’s happened more than once that I ask for someone’s card at a networking event and the person admits they left the cards at home.) Business cards are surprisingly versatile, so get creative!

Include a business card with every sale you ship. This is especially important for sellers on big platforms like Etsy or Amazon. You want to make sure the customer remembers your business name, not the platform. It’s also handy for customers to have a card or two to give to friends who admire your product. You can do this in a brick-and-mortar store, too.

Another guerrilla marketing tactic: hit the library. If you know your target demographic is reading a certain book, take advantage of the chance at exposure. For example, if you specialize in organization services, tuck a business card between the pages of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. When a potential client needs help sorting through the basement, they’ll have your number.

library
Try hiding your business cards in books! Stealth marketing. Via Flickr.

Similarly, your comic book store might see more customers if you can get the indie coffee shop down the street to carry some of your cards. Trace connections between your business and your target market wherever you can. Your card might end up in the right hands at the right time.

Keep your card to yourself… sometimes

You want to get your business card in as many hands as possible, and who could blame you? Your card is gorgeous. Still, beware of being too indiscriminate. If you treat your cards like they’re disposable, you won’t get the best mileage out of them.

Generally, networking etiquette says you should make some connection beyond handing out your card. Dealing them out to everyone without so much as a “How’d traffic treat you?” feels impersonal and rude.

Instead, save your cards for people who show some interest in your business. Not sure whether a connection is strong enough? Ask for their card. If they ask for yours in return, you’re good to go! Plus, having someone else’s card gives you the power to make the first follow-up after you meet.

stack of business cards
Via Flickr.

How is your business card helping your marketing? Share your creative tips in the comments, or browse our contests for inspiration.

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