Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Business cards should be a marketing tool!

A great article comes to us from Jared Correia at the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program blog. Jared extols the virtues of bright, lively (dare we say "exciting") business cards as an essential tool in your marketing arsenal.
Just because you’re an attorney, and you’re supposed to be staid and measured at all times, it doesn’t mean that you have to take pains to fit the stereotype, at least not all of the time. Do something creative to celebrate Dr. Seussbirthday: see if you can’t make your business card pop, or, at least, hop on pop.

Your business card’s probably black and white, right? That’s so Web 1.5. Alright, maybe you’ve splashed some color. Even so, I’d bet that your business card, while working well enough for you thank you very much, might not be working so well enough for your potential clients and referral sources; at the very least, I bet it could be working better. Think back to when you were creative, before law school beat it out of you . . . or, if you can’t think that far back, just talk to someone you know with an art or marketing background. In a market as tight as the one we are presently burdened with, it becomes the little things that separate out service providers. The uniquely professional presentation exemplified in your business card may be the difference between gaining a client, or taking an aspirin. The last thing you want is to have a cockamamie business card. Below are twenty ways to make sure that you never do:

1. Picture This. Put your photo on your business card. (Unless you look like this dude.) It’s not just for real estate agents anymore. And, it will create an immediate response on the part of the receiver of your card, who is unused to seeing an attorney’s photo on a business card. It will be the first thing that your contact will mention to you; and, they will mention it as they look back up at you, in order to affirm your look, thereby creating a second reference point. It is at this point that you will tell your contact that you’re not trying to sell their house, nor are you trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner. It’s a decent icebreaker; and, through the offering of your business card, you have created a first impression that will not soon be forgotten.

2. Technicolor. There is nothing more boring than a black and white business card. You might as well just move there. Add some bold colors to get noticed. You might think color may be prohibitively expensive; but, if you use digital print, you can save money over the application of specialty colors. And make sure to shop around for printers. There are deals to be had everywhere in this economy; you just need to do your due diligence, meaning you can’t settle.

3. Both Sides Now. You know, the business card does have a back. Yet, almost no one uses it. But, what if you did? You could get a lot more information on your card. And, if you point out to the folks that you hand your business card to that you have information on the back, they’ll take a look there; and, you won’t need to hope for their stumbling to find it, in a place they wouldn’t normally look. They’ll be impressed when they turn your card over, and they see something there. You’ll look damn clever.

4. It’s like a Little Paper Computer that Fits in Your Pocket! The prevalance of social networking is apparent to anyone accessing electricity at this point. Deviate from the traditional business card contact profile. Give your audience ways to find you online, so that they can access a little piece of you whenever they need to. In addition to phone, fax and email, include your website, your Blog, your Twitter account information, your LinkedIn page, your Facebook page, whatever you find most relevant. Be careful not too include so much that you clutter; but, do give a nifty sampling. Maybe throw this information on the back of the card. Merge your social networking and your personal, face-to-face networking. Integrate your professional image.

5. Don’t Miss Manners. Since we’re talking about the spillover of the world of social networking onto the printed paper, it will be wise to observe netiquette when creating the design of your business card. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people work on computers all day along, and are used to the norms established through the uses of those machines. So, when you’re designing your business card, don’t use ALL CAPS for your contact information. It’s loud and comes off as silent shouting. Use white space to enhance readability. Pay attention to your layout. Be certain before you send--Don’t sign off on a final proof until it is exactly the way you want it. Otherwise, you’ll be handing out that glaring mistake 1,000 times before you can fix it.

6. DVDo. If you’re one of these people who loves to have the newest gadgets, iPhone applications, Kindle version, what have you, do I have the gadget for you. Did you know that you could create a business card that is also a DVD? That’s right. But, “that’s crazy,” you say. Nay. A Google search for “dvd business cards” will yield just a shade under 43 million results. Volume purchases will reduce your price per unit, as with any purchasing endeavor. Although you don’t want to abandon paper business cards completely (the DVD cards would eat up scanners; plus, the fancier designs don’t fit well into the standard rolodex), and may only want to use the DVD business card in special circumstances, there is something to be said for being able to hand someone a business card that they can pop into their computer when they get home so that they can watch you deliver your elevator speech, or present your latest YouTube channel video posting. Who knows, they may even pass it along to their friends, as an example of something fairly fantastic that you can do to make your business card a living document. So, live a little.

7. From Blah-g to Blawg. As far as I know, there’s no rule that says that you are only allowed one business card; but, most people only have one. Why not have a separate business card, just for your Blawg. In addition to allowing you the freedom to try out some new, and perhaps unusual, card designs, it piques peoples’ curiosities, and will drive traffic to your Blawg. I cannot tell a lie, though; I stole this idea from Adobe’s Rick Borstein, who has a separate business card for his Blawg.

8. Go Lo. Need a logo design for your card? Wanna set your prices? Want lots of options? Try CrowdSPRING.com. At CrowdSPRING, you set the project parameters, and graphic designers will send along proposals, from which you will choose your new logo. If you’re on a budget, CrowdSPRING is a great way to get an eye-catching logo at the price you want. You’ll have full ownership of your chosen design, to boot.

9. All Bent Out of Shape. If you’re pulling your business card out of your shirt pocket, along with some collected lint, a dime and a leaking pen, you can be noticed for better things. Don’t hand people worn, bent or otherwise disfigured business cards. It looks unprofessional. It informs the recipient, as well, that there are things that you just can’t take care of, perhaps their case or their referral. To save yourself from such embarrassment, and potential professional damage, buy a business card holder, which you can get cheaply. I keep mine tucked neatly behind my wallet. It never bothers me. Before I go anywhere, I will check to make sure that I have filled the holder to capacity. If you create the habit for yourself, you will never be caught short, and forced to tell an interested party, “Well, I don’t have any cards right now . . .”

10. Hanker for a Hunka Cheese? I know. You really love your dog. That’s cool. Your business card is not the place to share the fact. And, I know. You were really proud of that hole-in-one you hit a couple years back. It was great. All your friends were jealous. Your DVD business card is not where you drop the footage of the event. Resist the urge to be cheesy. (Lord knows I have trouble in that wise; perhaps that’s why I no longer practice.) Be bold in color choice and formatting and information inclusions. Don’t put a picture of a bear riding a unicycle on your card, no matter how cool it might seem at the time. Make a professional presentation in order to be treated as a professional person. Sell your service first. You can always show pictures of the kids later.

I had originally intended to do 20 Tips for business cards (Get it? “Carded” . . . Under 21); but, I ran out of ideas. Here are five more of someone else’s. Fifteen is as far as this goes.

And, I am certainly disappointed, as well, that my musical interlude quotient has been dangerously low in this post. So, please enjoy a pair of unlikely duos: Phil Collins ripping it up with Eric Clapton and Neil Young and Waylon Jennings slow rollin’ low, country-style.
Please click here for the original article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

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