Have you ever been handed a business card and took one look and wondered what on earth that person thought when approving the design? Even in this digital age, your business card is often the first time somebody engages with your brand, so it’s essential that your business cards convey the right kind of message about you and your business.
I recently wrote an article about how colour connects you to your target market. So too does design. So how do you use your business card to connect with your target market? Here are 9 things to keep in mind when designing your business card and making sure you connect with your Target Market.
- Keep the style congruent with your market
If you’re a dog walker, it’s totally OK to have cute pictures of a dog on your cards, but if you’re a Business Coach, even though you love your pet, using it as a graphic on your card is probably not smart.
TIP: Don’t design for your taste and style – find out what your Target Market is attracted to. This is not about you!
- Make sure you use stock that is line with the quality image you want to portray
Ever received a business card that is on flimsy paper-like stock? If you’re a local lawn mowing guy looking to pick up small jobs around your neighbourhood, it’s probably OK not spending a lot on quality stock. However, if you’re the local mortgage broker, what would flimsy stock say about you and your brand? It doesn’t cost a lot more to up the grade of your stock, but it’s worth the investment if you want to be seen as a quality business.
- If you’re using images, make them professional
Many business people have a photograph of themselves or an image that relates to their business on the card. If you want to do this, make sure the image is professionally shot and if you have cropped around the edges, get a designer to do this properly so it looks professional.
TIP: Get professionally photographed headshots. We may all think we’re camera experts, but a great headshot, properly lit will speak wonders about your brand. If in doubt about clothing, get a shot from the neck up.
- Get creative
I’ve seen some amazing business cards on a very creative product. I was once handed a thin plastic card in the design and shape of a credit card. The owner was a business loans broker specifically targeting small business owners looking for short to medium term cash. This was plainly spelt out on his card when it said “when the banks say no, I say go”, which I thought was kind of fun but more importantly, to the point. I get a LOT of business cards in my line of work, most I photograph and then discard, but this guy’s card I kept for years because it was so unique, until one day a colleague was in need of a business loan and I fished out that card and handed it over. They ended up doing a lot of business together over the years and I’m absolutely confident that those business cards would have paid for themselves many times over.
TIP: If you get creative, remember many business cards get photographed and thrown away, so to make sure yours really stand out or this will be a very expensive exercise for you.
- Use a designer
It may sound obvious, but a good graphic designer will take the time to understand your desired target market and guide you through the process of design. Many don’t charge a lot for a simple design and logo, especially if you have already done some work on defining your target market. They want to grow with you as your business grows, so are often happy to start small and work up.
Graphic designers also help us to get out of our own way when designing a logo and brand. We often ‘think’ we know best, but we get so caught up in our own ‘dream’ that we sometimes can’t see the reality of what’s right in front of us. I know I have been saved from some stupid mistakes in the past by a good designer.
TIP: If you are using Upworks, Fiverr or 99Designs, preparing a really great brief of who you want to do business with, how you want your brand to be portrayed and exactly what you want on the card will ensure you get what you ask for. Remember you get what you pay for and if you don’t tell any outsourced supplier what you want, you’re likely to get something you’ll have to re-do later on.
- Keep it simple
There is nothing worse than getting a business card with so much stuff on it you can’t read any of it. Don’t be tempted to try and say everything about your business on a card. Simple is the most effective. Most people wanting to do business with you will research you via your website, that is where you can list your product and services in depth – a business card simply hasn’t got the room.
TIP: Avoid having an email address @gmail or @hotmail etc. This sends a message that you’re not a serious business. These days Google allows you to add your own domain name to a Gmail account so you can say email@example.com as opposed to firstname.lastname@example.org – which seems more business-like to you?
- Make it readable
Following on from ‘simple’ is making a card readable. Don’t get too ‘designery’ and make your font so small it’s illegible. Your name and phone number should stand out easily as should your email address and email. If you need a magnifying glass to read it, it probably needs a redesign.
TIP: test your business card design (in actual size – which means you’ll have it print it out) on someone over 50 before printing.
- Keep one side clear
If you’re likely to be going to events and networking, always make sure your card is designed with one side blank, or close to it. Great networkers will jot notes down about you after they have spoken to you. This allows them to put you in their database with pertinent information. Make sure you don’t have any printing laminates on the back, this makes writing notes impossible
TIP: Never write on a business owner’s card from East Asia, it is considered very impolite to deface a business card in any way.
- Test your market
If you are designing a new brand, test it with your market. Your designer will usually give you several options to select from. Takes these and ask your Target Market what they think, you may be surprised with what they say.
Facebook groups are a great place to get feedback. Join groups where your target market hangs out (use the search function and keywords, it’s pretty easy to find them). People love to comment on this sort of stuff, after all, everyone’s an expert.
TIP: Don’t ask your family and friends for an opinion unless they are specifically your Target Market.