Business card basics: Who are you?

Whew! I’ve finally finished the final draft of my manuscript. I really want it to look good so I better find an editor to make sure it’s as clean as possible. I could go with Mysti Powell, I’ve used her before, but wait a minute, I have a whole drawer full of business cards from attending the Independent Book Publishers Association conference (courtesy of a scholarship from Florida Authors and Publishers Association). Let me see what my conference contacts have to offer.

I open my catchall drawer that has a collection of nearly empty packs of gum, seriously deformed and dehydrated rubber bands, rusty paperclips, expired coupons to local fast-food joints, and a jumbled assortment of cards.

After stacking them like a pint-sized deck of playing cards, I riff through them to find potential editors. About halfway through the cards, I realize that not one of them has a picture of the editor (or businessperson) and many are missing critical information like web site addresses, phone numbers, and emails. One card simply has the person’s name! And shivers! Many of the cards are cheap office supply store versions printed at home with rough edges and type that is poorly aligned.

I don’t know about you, but I like to know what the person I am working with looks like. Being able to put a face to a business card also helps jog my memory of when we met and what we discussed while at a seminar or conference. The quality of his/her card gives me an intuition into the level of professional I may choose to help me.

I scare myself every morning when I look in the mirror, so putting my face on my business card was a dicey proposition. I had to spend several hours on Photoshop “enhancing” my business card photograph enough to keep from scaring clients away. I ended up with a picture that makes me look like a Pug, so ugly that I am actually kind of cute.

After reviewing my stack of business cards, I came away with a few suggestions you might want to incorporate when creating or updating your business card.

Use a professional designer for your business card, letterhead, brochures, website, etc.

Your business card represents you. Make it the best it can be by using a professional to design it and keep it consistent with other branding efforts you may employ in your business.

KISSU: Keep it short, simple, and understandable.

In the Internet age, people tend to scan more than they read. Make the information easily accessible. Make it easy-to-read.

Use standard business card size.

Fancy folding cards, cards of different shapes, cards of different sizes, do not easily fit in standard business card holders, files, or wallets. Cards made from CD materials may get erased and jump drives require some kind of reader: stick with a heavy stock paper card.

Critical Information on every business card.

Name / Company Name / Title
Your picture! Use a professional photographer and make sure you own the rights to use the picture wherever you want for promotional purposes.
Phone number
Email address
Website URL
Mailing address
QR code?

Book cover graphic on the back of the card

4-color, 300 dpi jpeg of your front cover
Include ISBN underneath the title
Include the notice: Available at Amazon and BN.com! (or wherever)

Your card represents you!

Include 4/4 color (at least on the side with your picture)
Glossy laminate on front, matte finish on the back
Heavy card stock (nix homemade cards)

Proffread your business card. (Get it?)
Print in quantity?

Always, always, always have a large supply of business cards at hand whether you are on vacation, out to dinner, involved in intimate activity, or at a business event. (The last two could actually be the same!) Keep a box of business cards in your laptop case, your car, and certainly in a specialized case or your wallet.

I have found that I make frequent changes to my cards based on what aspect of my business I am promoting, so I will order 500 to a thousand cards at a time. You can order more or less based on your needs. I have found the online company VistaPrint to be a quality provider of business cards and other marketing items.

*****

Well, that little side journey into business card basics helped fulfill my word count for the day but got me no closer to finding an editor for my manuscript. I better stick with the tried and true and send Mysti Powell my document. I know what she looks like and more important what kind of editor she is.

If just one business card had a picture on it that reminded me of an editor I had met earlier at the conference, they just might have my business right now.

P.S. Always ask for the other person’s card first. “May I have your business card, please?”

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Fifteen Ideas to Make Your Business Card a Persuasive Marketing Tool

With attractive business cards available very inexpensively it makes sense for everyone to carry business cards with them. Business cards quickly enable you to share your contact and other information without resorting to scribbling your phone number on old receipts from your back pocket.

In recent years the price of high quality business cards has plummeted. The advent of massive printing factories with on-line shop fronts together with digital pre-press and even digital presses has meant that it is possible to print hundreds of cards for a price that would have previously have been unheard of. Not only are cards inexpensive but they are also available in full color, with glossy coatings and even with rounded corners or foil-like features.

Having a card as a way of providing information to someone is one thing, creating a card that really stands out is another. Business cards in the USA are commonly three and a half inches wide by two inches tall. This means that they fit in people’s business card files. If you must have card that is this size then there are several ways to differentiate your card. Some of these methods will be more expensive than the ‘factory’ produced cards mentioned above, but the extra cost may not be huge compared to your overall marketing budget. Ideas include:

Add rounded corners, or a combination of rounded and square corners
Use engraving to create a sophisticated masterpiece where the text is raised above the rest of the card. There are still several engraving printers to be found in big cities.
If engraving is much for your budget consider thermography, a process which emulates engraving, with similar results, although not as satisfying to the purist.
Foil stamping, perhaps over part of your logo, creates a card which is noticeable and different from most.
Most color cards are produced using offset lithography or digital presses. Consider having your card produced using traditional letterpress printing. The result will likely have a slightly more three dimensional feel.
Create an embossed effect (where part of the card raised above the surrounding area – similar to the effect created when a Notary Public stamps a document), or a debossed effect (where part of the card is pushed in to lower than the surrounding area). The effects can be produced without ink, i.e. ‘blind’ or with ink.
Create a unique design. Take the real estate industry as an example. Many real estate agents have cards that include their photograph. The cards are obviously created by the agent’s broker and conform to the broker’s template. Trouble is, they obviously look very similar to the cards created for the broker’s other agents and hence do not do a good job of differentiating. When you commission a design, make sure that it is fresh and different.
Don’t forget the back of the card. This is a great place for more information about your business, for example, you could include a map to your physical location, or list your social media accounts.
Consider creating several different cards for yourself, perhaps with the same theme but slightly different. One company I know created cards with five different color themes for each person. It was unusual and created a good talking point.
Remember that cards do not need to be printed horizontally, they can also be printed vertically.

Since people are using electronic forms of contact information collection and hence retaining business cards after capturing the data contained on the card is becoming less common. The result of this is that it makes sense to create a card that is totally different from everyone else’s in terms of size, shape, paper type and design. The following are a few ideas:

Turn your business card into a mini brochure, the same size as a regular business card when closed,but it opens up provide more information about you and your business.
Similar to one are ‘concertina’ business cards where a card opens up into a concertina of information.
Create a long rectangle, round or square business card which is a little larger than the standard business card size.
Consider using a significantly thicker card stock than normal to differentiate you card by its feel.
Remember that there are literally thousands of different paper and cards stocks available. Choosing a more unusual material could help get your business card noticed.

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Business Card Sizes & Finishes

Business Card Sizes?

Are you looking at getting some business cards printed? The standard size of cards is 90 x 55, although in reality they can be cut to any size you choose. Business cards are generally printed on 310gsm or 350gsm white artboard. Clients often believe there are many different colours of paper to print on, but 95% of business cards are printed on plain white card, a coloured card look is often achieved by printing inks of cream, gold or another background colour.

The most common card finishes are a plastic lamination called celloglazing. You can choose between matt or a gloss celloglaze. These finishes provide considerable protection to your cards and they are ideal for tradesmen who can be handing out cards in often dirty environments. These coatings do keep the cards much cleaner and any marks can be easily wiped off. The plastic lamination also gives your business cards more water resistance and a nice feel.

If you want to write on the back of your cards, it is better to choose a matt celloglaze finish, or a satin finish. Most business card stock is coated with a slightly gloss (or satin) finish which can be easily written on. Do not pick gloss celloglaze on the back of your cards if you wish to write on it. Gloss celloglaze is virtually impossible to write on.

If you prefer you can have Gloss celloglazing on the front and matt celloglazing on the back. This gives you the best of both worlds, but will cost you a little bit more.

If you decide to only have the plastic lamination on one side, please bear in mind that paper is porous. Therefore it will absorb a little water from the atmosphere. If you have a plastic laminate on one side only, this side will be less likely to absorb water from the atmosphere. This may cause your cards to curl slightly. To prevent this please keep them in their box and keep them inside your office.

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