Guest blogger Agnese Aljena writes about the power of business cards and how they work for her in promoting her beautiful photographic work.
A Business card is a simple but very powerful tool if used wisely. You can call it a “visit” or “personal” card if you don’t like “business”.
Historically visiting cards were used to announce an arrival of an aristocratic or wealthy person. Now the status for business card is much lower but still – you and your profession are taken more seriously if you announce it by printed card. As in the 17th century, a business card is still part of your first impression. Especially if your card arrives first and you as a person just follow it. So, it is an important attribute in your image building.
Here are some tips and angles you can use when thinking about your business cards.
Representation of your brand.
A business card is an essential part of your brand and should be designed according to your overall branding strategy. A business card is like summary of your brand, personality, professional and artistic abilities. It means that before you can design a powerful card your personal brand should be in place.
Your business card’s main mission is to give information in a handy way. Usually it is name, profession, your home page, email, phone, maybe postal address. Now QR codes have become quite popular for faster information flow.
I use the other side of business cards for my portfolio presentation. In my card set I have about 20 different designs with pictures of my portfolio (and that is not as costly as might sound). Whenever I am ready to give a card, I hand a bunch of them so the other person can choose which one he or she likes. Usually it turns into emotional and lively part of otherwise maybe quite businesslike conversation. People like to choose, and, what is more important, they are watching my portfolio without pressure and we both are happy about it. Sometimes they involve people around and often I find myself giving away my cards even if I wasn’t intended to.
Every piece of information in your business card should mean that you are accessible via given channel. Even if I have a skype name, I prefer not to put it on my cards since I don’t log in to skype every morning. I just have different habits. That is also a reason why people don’t put postal address – we are moving much more than several decades ago and we don’t send letters to postal address any more (although it is nice and romantic). It also means that your home page should be up and running and should be as an extended version of business card – giving more and deeper up-to-date information.
Since your business card is an essence of your brand, you should use your brand elements – both design and emotion-wise. You can use different size, emboss logo or your name, use scent, add some other dimension if you wish. Just be sure that it fits within standard business card holder – otherwise your card will be lost. Or you can stick to classics – black letters on white background – just as you feel your personality requires.
I am using smaller size cards (half of normal business cards) to encourage people to take more different designs. Psychologically smaller cards mean “I am not causing big financial loss if I take two or three”. When giving my cards to choose I try to carry with me quite a lot – to give an impression it is not the last one. I use also postcard size cards when I want to impress somebody (like when visiting corporate customers) and to send a hidden message “I am expensive – look, I can afford big business cards”. In those cases I give them together with small cards anyway – to fit into business card holder.
is the most important element in business card philosophy. When you have your cards and you are proud about them (and you should be), use them. It is not only when introducing yourself to others. I use them also every time I give away my finished work. I include several in packaging and there has been countless times when people are calling me and start conversation with a phrase – my friend gave me your business card… Those are real buyers. And it is much easier to give to somebody a business card not to spell your name and number. The secret here is also the design – it should be so attractive that people just don’t dare to throw them away as soon as open the package.
Another simple tip is - take your business cards with you. There have been so many times I have missed them. And that might be a missed opportunity to establish a good contact.
If you are a Rennaisance (wo)man with several occupations, print a card for each and every of them. Then opening a card wallet, you can silently sort them out and even without speaking send a message that you have other interesting angles of your personality. Of course, if you feel like cross-selling is a good idea. I use this strategy because every time I use my PhD story it raises my price as an artist – I choose to be an artist, not in academia where I could earn good money as well.
People may not always translate these messages into words, but they definitely receive them. In most cases strategy of many different cards encourages healthy and natural discussion. I even have cards with my kids – just in case being mom of two ginger girls is the angle I might find myself in conversation.
So far I can say – business cards has been one of the most powerful tools in my word-of-mouth marketing. It is a nice silent (and visual artists love to live without words) way of sending a clear message and good card is a beginning of natural friendly and human conversation that some day might lead to selling your art.