This article takes a break again from the normal SEO set of blogs to take a look at building your brand using business cards. Last week I published an article about why corporate branding is important, and this article is one of a series of follow-on series about building your brand. Whilst reading this please consider I am speaking from the stand point of which I would take if you was to be an "online only" business client of Andy Kinsey Designs and not from a full overview - though my finally summary is just this.
Just because you are an online business does not mean business cards are useless to you or your company. Business Cards do not become obsolete just because your an Internet based business, they are as much an important brand building tool as those business who operate in a "brick and mortar" world.
Recognition - having brand and business recognition is of vital importance to any company, generally as my (corporate branding) post says this is the job of a good/great logo. Business cards help you go a step further, you can tell more about a company through its business cards than you often can from speaking to a person over the phone. A business card allows you to add colour, your logo (obviously), your contact details, a selective style of font - plus you can even show some information some people may not expect like twitter username or a facebook public url (eg facebook.com/search.andy is mine)
As I've eluded to above a business card is an extension of your company and more so a show of what ideally you would like your company to be. Lets take my new business card as an example - if you visit my main site (andykinsey.co.uk) you will find that the site is very much based on blue and white, also you will see the big AK Designs logo on the bottom right of the first page of the site (as it is on each page under the menu on this site) , next you will notice the use of a specialised font (this is to make the brand unique and memorable and will appear on any new products from AKD) and finally above in the logo you will notice a little animation ... this is to represent a foil overlay I am using to make the card that little extra memorable and there in making the brand more memorable.
As I have said it is an extension of the company brand, a business card is not alone a brand - far from it (even though you are just an internet only business) - your business card as with my own should pull in factors from the work you do, your stationary (letter heads, compliment slips, invoices & receipts etc), your catalogue and of course your website. A business card is simply the final bit of "spit and polish" to any brand.
Something You May Not Know - By producing a set of business cards that are sleek and professional you are fostering the idea that your business card is the first point of contact (as you should consider for everything your business produces in my view) and therefore you are inadvertently increasing the footfall of traffic to your site, increasing the chances of being contacted by the person whom receives the business card but also you are opening the doors to new contacts, as its pretty much a given if you have a unique card and style your business will get mentioned from one person to another (and from business to business). This form of referral where one person shows another your business card is quite rare - and even more rare is when you find out that the person who had your card had a fight with the other person involved to keep the card. This is why at trade shows or conferences you should go with at least 100 business cards to hand, you never know when you will asked for one nor where your next lead may come from (I recall one client I still work with, we met in the gents of a night club, I had a business card handy in my wallet!). Referral by business card also removes a vital step for most websites ... your user doesn't go through a search engine - ok if your very highly ranked you may think of this as an issue (so do what channel 4 sometimes do for new programmes and tell them to search your name ... eg "Search: Andy Kinsey Designs") but for most companies this can be a positive step as they get little and insignificant traffic because they find them selves on pages 6 or 7 (or worse!) in the search engines.
Business cards have long been an essential marketing tool for anyone serious about their business. They still are today, the one tiny little difference about today is today it is about making your brand (and therefore business card) stand out from the crowd.
The other great thing about producing a fantastic business card today is that a number of smaller businesses see them as either a) useless or b) too costly ... when in-fact they are neither. a) as highlighted above business cards can be extremely useful in building your brand and therefore useful in increasing your business revenue in the long run. b) other than my previous statement business card and stationary design and printing is not expensive ... for example Business Cards from Andy Kinsey Designs cost just £45 to design (plus you get a free letter head design too) - the printing added on top can be anywhere from £30 for 200 high grade cards to £80 for 1000 high grade cards, letter head design print is FREE! (so as you can see its not expensive, and if you just need the text changing for another person in the company add £5 per person ;) ) and if you want something a little less glossy for your company then take a look at Vista Print whom offer some nice brand based services.
In Conclusion - If you think business cards are dead and buried you are very much wrong, indeed they could be used to much more effective use today than at any other point in history. Business Cards are an extension and show of what you want your brand to be (eg. fun, vibrant, corporate, sleek or professional) they alone are not your brand and should not be. And finally business cards can actually increase brand recognition and traffic to your site a huge amount.