Designing a Memorable Business Card
Designing a memorable business card
by Scott Ginsberg October 2008
Your business card is one of your most valuable tools, yet all too often the card’s design stacks the deck against you.
Which eight words should be music to your executive ears? “May I have one of your business cards?” Your business card is your best friend, your ticket to becoming unforgettable and your most valuable marketing and networking tool. Unfortunately, too many professionals have business cards that simply blend in with the cookie-cutter crowd.
What about you? Is your card so attractive that people immediately show it to their friends? If not, here are five ways to maximize the impact of your business card.
1. Evaluate your Card
When is the last time you heard one of the following remarks?
• “I showed your card to everybody in my office,” says a prospective client.
• “Can I have another one? A friend of mine will love this,” your tablemate says.
• “Ooh! I want one, too!” exclaims the person looking over your shoulder.
• “Hey, can you show my friend your business card?” asks a colleague.
• “You know, I’ve never thrown your card away,” one of your customers comments.
If the answer is “not recently” or “never,” you need a new card. This is a great opportunity to capitalize on this valuable tool.
2. Start from Scratch
As you brainstorm the design of your new card, ask yourself the following questions to motivate your creativity:
• Can I change the size or shape?
• Can I make trading cards for my entire team?
• Can I commission a customized logo?
• Can I include a related table or chart?
• Can I embellish my card with an award or another credibility booster?
• Can I die-cut a design element into the card, such as a pattern or a hole?
• Can I write an original quotation (not someone else’s) to put on the back?
• Can I make one side of the card into a sticker?
3. Brainstrom Bad Cards
Your design options are endless—but here’s a quick list of business-card pitfalls to avoid:
• No Email Address: Come on, it’s 2008. Don’t ask or expect your contacts to search online for your email address or, worse yet, try to guess what it is.
• Mismatched Email: Your Web site is michaelconsulting.com, but your email address is still firstname.lastname@example.org. Using a free address from AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo! takes your level of professionalism down a few clicks. It’s easy and cheap to set up a personalized domain for your business and create a specialized email address.
• Too Much Information: Keep it simple by including just a few essentials. Contacts can look for details on your Web site.
• Folded Cards: It may have more surface area and stand out from the stack, but if it doesn’t lie flat with all the other cards on my desk, I either throw it out or rip it in half.
• Referrals: One real estate agent I met had a small heart on his card that said, “I love referrals!” Well, who doesn’t? That little icon made him look almost desperate.
• Sacrificing Quality: I remember one particularly unattractive card on flimsy stock, with bad colors and hard-to-read lettering. What was her job? Graphic designer. Oops.
• Quotes from Famous People: One person’s card had a quote from Oprah Winfrey. I don’t remember the contact’s name or what the quote said—all I can remember is Oprah. Why would you quote someone else on your own business card? It can backfire and wind up overshadowing you.
4. Include a Number
If you want people to remember you and your card, it helps to quantify your presence. Examples of noticeable numbers include:
• Used in 137 countries
• More than 3,000,000 copies in print
• 205 billion units sold
Here are the seven benefits of including digits (beyond your cell number) on your card:
• Air of Mystery: It’s intriguing and worth making a remark about.
• Memory Trigger: During a conversation, a noticeable number tends to be the item most people remember best.
• Credibility: This comes from specificity. Which sounds more convincing? “I’ve read a lot of books on stress management,” or “I’ve read more than 1,800 books on stress management.”
• Commitment: Your noticeable number is a visible way to reinforce your dedication. In a business culture where trust seems to be at an all-time low, actions that validate your commitment are priceless.
• Differentiation: It distinguishes you in an otherwise crowded marketplace.
• Expertise: It’s one answer to the question, “So, what makes you the expert?” This is especially valuable when working with (and attracting) the media.
• Stickness: Noticeable numbers make customers want to check in with you or your Web site regularly, just to see where your numbers are now. Remember, Web sites are like newspapers—customers don’t want to read one if it’s even a few months out of date.
5. Try a Philosophy Card
People want to do business with—and be around—other people who have their own philosophy and their own unique approach: to business, life and how to treat customers. Contacts like to see this approach presented consistently online and off, and even in how you carry yourself.
Since sharing my own philosophy on my card has proven so successful, I ask my readers and audience members to try their hand at creating their own philosophy cards. All you have to do is ask yourself one question: “If everybody did exactly what I said, what would the world look like?” If you can answer that question with three to five bullet points, you’ve got your philosophy, and you’ll soon have an unforgettable philosophy card.
As an executive, you must leverage your business card as a powerful marketing tool. Remember to consider the five practices above when reworking your branding efforts. Who knows? Maybe our paths will cross one day—if so, please be sure to give me one of your new cards.
SCOTT GINSBERG, aka the Nametag Guy, is the author of seven books, an award-winning blogger and the creator of NametagTV.com, an online training network that teaches companies how to get noticed, get remembered and get business. For more information, contact 314-256-1800 or email@example.com.