Monday, March 10, 2014

Business cards - Are they worth it?

You seem them everywhere, in every business, in fishbowls in restaurants - you probably have more than a handful stuffed in a drawer somewhere in your house. But do you ever look at them? Business cards: are they just an unnecessary expense?

We asked John Potter of Grand Rapids Area Professionals for Excellence (GRAPE), a business networking group in Grand Rapids, MI, and he said, "If you're using business cards as a marketing tool, then your expectations may not be met, but if you're using them as a contacting tool, then they can be useful. It's simpler and more professional for me to hand my business card to someone I've spent a half hour talking to at an event than writing my email or phone number on a stray piece of paper. I'm glad to have business cards for that purpose. Just don't spend a great deal of money on them, because they get forgotten and tossed aside much of the time."

Business cards now come in more a lot more than just the standard form (or media). Numerous options are now easily and cheaply available to make your card, and thus its representation of your brand, stand out. But should you go for standard, unique, or full-on special snowflake? Or is this just flashy or even alienating to your potential customers?

Consider the business that you are in. How likely is your clientele to care if you don't hire a professional to design your logo? If your business is marketing, it's important to make the investment. If your business is auto repair shop management, perhaps putting your marketing dollars elsewhere may do more good for your bottom line. If a funky card would put off or even shock the majority of your clientele, it's a liability, not an asset. You may live in an area with heavy competitive for funeral home services, in which case comprehensive branding might be necessary. But probably not.

It can be fun to design and redesign and order business cards, but even if yours are original and make people comment on them and remember them, evaluate how often and how successfully they convert into leads and sales. If the answer is "not very often," rethink this part of your branding and advertising budget.

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