eyes23--bizcardsToday’s awesome screen devices let us connect, communicate and market ourselves at, literally, the speed of light. Plus there’s an ongoing tsunami of innovations to help us interact even better, in the ‘second life’ that we all live online.

Let’s peel our faces from our screens for a just a moment and rejoin the activity in the real world. If you’ll look over my shoulder, you’ll see a sampling of business cards from 100 years ago. And next to it, a sampling of business cards from today.

Not much different, are they? Hm.

Now, collaborations that have led to billion-dollar tech startups likely began with someone handing a business card to someone they just met. You never know, right?

So let’s take a look at those business cards we’ve been carrying around. The logos are cooler now, of course. But overall, today’s cards take the same approach as the ones exchanged by our great-great-grandfathers.

Here’s the thing: an outstanding biz card is a chance to make a lasting impression on the person you just met. A chance to stand out from the crowd, and for your business be remembered. A better chance that your card will be saved, rather than tossed. That’s huge (you never know, right?).

Unfortunately, most of us waste that opportunity, with cards that are limited to our contact info. Yeah, we need to include that. But we can include so much more.

On that little card? Well, let’s think big. Twice as big. Think about a two-panel folding business card. Just with that one step, the possibilities have multiplied. In fact, you now can think of this less as a business card and more as a mini-brochure. One that introduces your brand as something smart and unique. One that intentionally drives folks to pursue you online. Because, well, you never know.

The ‘cover’ of your folding biz card naturally should include your logo, but perhaps even more important, it should make clear, immediately clear, what you do. If you’re in the business of shooting video testimonials, then make those two words POP, to catch the quickly-scanning eyes of today’s humans. With traditional business cards, the reader has to search for that essential piece of info; sadly, there’s a mighty big chance they won’t bother.

Then go a step further, with a brief but intriguing marketing message or tagline: “VIDEO TESTIMONIALS that let customers do the selling for you.” Or, “EVENT PLANNING: You handle the compliments and we handle the details.”

Folded cards tend to sit there partly open, rather than flat, drawing the curious to look inside. Also, it’s not a bad idea to make the front panel a quarter inch shorter than the back panel, to make the card even easier to flip open.

On the inside, your name should be easy to notice. Titles are optional, especially for very small firms. And it couldn’t hurt to reinforce the name and nature of your company somewhere.

The core contact info consists of your email address and your phone number. If you have a domain-based email address, maybe put that domain in bolder type or a stronger color, so now that line does double-duty as an email address and a web address. That’s it. One line. Everything else is optional, because it can be found on the Contact page of your website. Be sure your essential info isn’t ridiculously small, like it is on some cards. It shouldn’t be visually ‘buried’ under or between other elements.

Whatever you do, make sure your website address really stands out and catches the eye. A tiny web address is information. A large, bold web address is an invitation.

Now you still have some real estate to fill on the inside of the opened card. And this is where it gets interesting.

Here are the types of things you can include (as long you remain succinct): a list of product or service offerings; a list of benefits; a mention of your target market(s); a paragraph that explains why your offerings are special; or a few lines about the types of problems you can solve. Drive ’em to your site by promoting your blog, portfolio, colorful e-book or helpful videos. No hard sells here. Just professional marketing messages that focus on how you help, rather than how great you are.

Or get creative, with a fun idea that presents your company’s or product’s attributes in a unique way.

The design should be clean, and coordinate with your website, but needn’t match it exactly. Images are fine, especially if you sell a nice-looking product. Close-up shots without too much detail work best at small sizes.

The back of the folded card can be used for an additional message; maybe a quote by you that offers some insightful and useful piece of wisdom. QR codes here are a good idea too. But don’t put anything essential on the back, since folks don’t always look back there.

Now when you hand over your sharply designed mini-brochure instead of an old-fashioned business card, you’ll see people actually spending more time looking at it. “Wow, great card,” they’ll say, with eyebrows raised. They never said that before.

But, full disclosure, here’s the real reason I have a 2-panel business card: At events where everyone puts their card into a jar to win the door prize, a double card is twice as likely to be picked. It’s true. So get your business card makeover done, and start tossing your cards in jars.

Because you never know.


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