Monday, 4 November 2013

The Art of the Business Card

If I could turn back the clock, I would forget about Website Improvement and study Business Card Optimization instead (the first has taught me it will be a 5 year plan, so let's keep that for another life). 

Marketing combines the 3 loves of my life: psychology, craft and art. You have to be clever and ahead of others in all 3 of them. And nowhere is this so difficult as in the Business Card. It is the Haiku of marketing tools. 

Nowhere is there so much competition, nowhere do you need to squeeze so much information in such a small space. You only have a few square inches to convey it all. 

It is the summary of your Business Plan. 

For it tells who you are, how you see yourself, how serious you are about your business, what market you target and the quality that people can expect of you. More than anything else, it has to be in full unison with the person handing it over. 

A first impression is made within one tenth of a second, and very hard to correct or alter. (The human instinct is such that no glossy card can circomvent the situation or atmosphere in which it was first shown). 

The numerous pitfalls of the business card

It seems to be quite an impossible task:  

  • How to make your card memorable?
  • While also strengthening the overall memorability of your brand?
  • While still conveying professionalism over creativity? 
  • While transmitting the message that you are a true authority in your domain?
  • And preferably THE authority? 
  • Making the contact details easy 
  • And triggering people to contact you?

    You have to tackle all those questions, because you want your card to be among those very few that are actually
    saved by the receiver. And remembered. And convert the receiver into a client.
Stand out in a matter of seconds

Studies show that website visitors make their emotional decision within 7 seconds. That's the time in which they decide whether or not to take a website into consideration. Whether they will visit a second page, bookmark the site or remember it for later.

That's the time a webmaster has got, to attract any business at all.

In case of the Business Card that time is even shorter. Just as with a website: people do not read it. They scan

There are way too many impulses in life, there is way too much information coming from all sides and we are wired for split second decisions: fight or flight.  So how, oh how, can you tackle all issues so quickly?

The subliminal message

In marketing all messages are subliminal.

True, in your website or blog you still have a lot of space to TELL how professional you are, how reliable, punctual, trustworthy, etc. 

Also here that isn't ideal if you do not SHOW it - in the Business Card though you do not even have that option. 

It needs to show, sublimely so and instantly so. 

From the moment you hand over your card, the emotional decision has already been made. 

Not based on what you tell on the card, but on one quick overall scan of you, the situation, and the look and feel of your card. 

What's the message of your card?

Pick up your Business Card. Do so as though it's not your own. You received it from someone else. What is your split second decision? What do you think is its subliminal message? 

"I'm a card of someone who started a business. I'm not too sure though, I'm just testing the waters a bit, so I didn't want to invest too much thought or money. Let's see how it goes. Or whether I'll try my luck with something else and in another country. But contact me, maybe I'm still around".

"My business is booming. OK, so this card was a cheap and quick one, not really matching my overall image, but if you go to my website and read it, you'll see I'm really reliable and good at what I do".

"I'm an authority in my domain. I will stay put. You see how I invested in this card. Please save it".

"I am THE authority. At one point, you too will need me". 

Start a business? Start with the business card

I always advise clients who are just starting a business, to start their marketing with the Business Card. 

For 2 important reasons:

It's the Business Plan. Working on the business card helps to crystallize the Business Plan into its purest shape. It's the guideline and reminder for any next marketing tool.

Brilliance in 1 thing. Is far better than mediocrity in 10 marketing tools. We are all in a constant rush forever updating our website, Facebook page, Blog, Twitter, YouTube account, Google Adwords, Google+, brochures, networking and advertising. And none of it helps, for it is all mediocre. Just as anyone elses.

Be brilliant in one thing. So at least there you are being taken seriously. You will be remembered, and convert your very first contact into a client. Only then you start with the next marketing tool, where, it goes without saying, you also aim at brilliance.

Good luck!

(Well, luck has got nothing to do with it. All good marketing is psychology, craft and art. Just as anything else, it is 1% inspiration, and 99% work).


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