Your business card is part of your showmanship and is one of the first things about you that your prospect gets to see.

Basic Purpose of Your Business Card

The whole idea of a business card is to help convince your prospect that what you have is the answer for which they have been looking all these years. Your card should be understandable, address the prospect’s problems, and show how you can provide the products or services they desire. Your business card must be clear, neat, simple to read, yet show elegance and taste and it must have all the answers. It must identify you and your firm clearly and distinctly, it must separate you out from all the others performing similar activities, and finally it must categorize you in such a manner that the person receiving your card has a clear and definite understanding of just exactly what you can do for them.

Your card must, in some way, cause your prospect to ask: “How do you do that?”

Your business card should be comprehensive and persuasive enough to sell when you aren’t present while being easy to read. Finally, it shouldn’t cost too much to produce. 

Items on Your Card

If you keep the objective in mind that a business card is your best salesperson, you will end with a great card. Your card should contain five items at a minimum.. In importance, they are as follows:

1. Tell what you can do for the reader.

2. Tell how to contact you.

3. Identify who you are

4. Present a logo

5. Locate you geographically

What You Can Do

The most important item on your card is the WHAT I CAN DO FOR YOU section. Let’s face it, most business cards are bland. They state company name, address, phone number, your name and title. Practically no business cards ever bothers to mention what the company does, and if there is some reference, it’s usually vague and general. Here are three examples:

1. “Our office supplies come with a two hour delivery guarantee.”

2. “We design bridges and battleships faster, better, and more cost effective than anyone else.”

3. “We resolve legal problems by listening, suggesting, and representing you in court.”

Note that each of the above statements are talking to an individual. These are not ‘generic’ or ‘company’ statements, each is directed at the individual card reader. There is plenty of room on the front of a standard card to put everything there. You don’t have to print this information on the back of the card. (SCORE note: However some business cards are printed on the back with information on What Can Be Done For You. Don’t overlook this possibility.)

If you question putting this kind of information on your business card, ask this question: “Of the hundreds of business cards you receive each year, how many do you throw out because you don’t remember who the presenters were or what they could do for you?”

How To Contact You

After you let your prospect know what it is you can do for them, the next most important task for your business card is to make it easy for them to get in touch with you. Very few people are going to write you a letter or run around and visit you; they are going to CALL you! Your phone number should be large and clear, and it should use a plain, easy-to-read typeface. Include your 800 number, web address, and your email address as well, but you don’t have to make them as large or as bold as your regular telephone number. Be sure to include your area code – you never know from whence will come new and profitable business.

Who You Are

Your company name is important. It is quite okay to use your personal name in your business, but couple it with a descriptor, not the trite ‘& Associates’ or ‘Enterprises.’ Here are some examples: “Fred Jones’ Pest Control” or “Sanchez Insurance” or “Plants by Polly.

Present a Logo

Don’t let your logo get in the way of the information. Logos should mean something. Your logo should complement your WHAT I CAN DO FOR YOU statement. For example, a tree for a landscape company.

How To Locate You

Where are you? If you’re a home-based business, use your home address on the card, but it’s quite acceptable to also include a post office box number as your mail address. Don’t just use a box number, it is unprofessional and makes you look like a fly-by-night outfit. Print your full zip code +4 on your card, it looks more professional. Don’t forget your web and email address. 

Using Your Business Cards

There is an etiquette to giving and accepting business cards. If you want to really impress your prospect, learn these methods. Try them, they work! 

Presenting Your Card – Present your regular business card using this ritual:

1-Make a show of it. Look at the card before you present it as if to make sure it’s the right card.

2-After the person takes your card (if the person is a potential client) ask,”Do you file your cards in a rotary file?” If the answer is, “Yes” add, “May I send you my card in that format?”

3. Of course you NEVER send your card, you DELIVER IT! Make a phone call the next day and say, “You know, I decided it was too important to mail you my business card, so I thought I’d make a special trip and deliver it to you along with a brochure that more completely explains what I can do for you. Will you have about three minutes this afternoon?” You might not get the three minutes, but you will sure get the attention of your prospect!

Receiving A Business Card – When presented with someone’s card go through a ritual of reception.

1. Thank your presenter for their card.

2. Spend five seconds in careful examination of the card. (It will seem like 5 minutes to the presenter). Say the name of the company and what they do (if it’s obvious).. Otherwise ask, “Just how could your company help me in my business?” Listen!

3. Turn their card over and write today’s date, the meeting occasion or place and a brief synopsis of what you have just heard.

4. Let the person SEE you put their card into your wallet or appointment book. Make a show of this. This validates you in their eyes as a person who cares.

5. IF TRUE, say something like this: “May I have a second card? I have a friend who may be interested in what you do, and I don’t want to give him/her my only copy.”

(Taken from Paul Tulenko’s minibook “Business Cards That Talk!)