How to spread the word about yourself and your business
Giving a business card is a crucial part of marketing yourself and your company or organisation. If done correctly it speaks volumes about how you would like to be perceived and how serious you are about marketing.
A business card is just as important if you are out of work - you don’t always carry CV’s around with you, so should the opportunity arise at any time you are placed in front of a prospective employer, it is the perfect time to offer them a business card which will show that you are well-prepared and give a professional approach to personal contact.
Here are some proven reasons for how a business card can land you a job or help create that important business opportunity.
1: Never leave home without them
Whenever we leave the house these days, we have a checklist of items we carry: house keys, car keys, wallet/purse, coat – now added to my list is Business Cards. Your commute into work can open up a whole heap of networking opportunities via the local convenience store, petrol station, on the train – so it's important to make a habit of always carrying business cards in your purse or wallet.
2: Send when paying bills
Paying bills by post is always a really simple way to advertise. Every time you put a cheque in the post, just add a business card into the envelope. If you are sending regular payments to the same place then there is no need to do this continually, but do it on the first post. It only costs a fraction of a penny to send each one and there is the possibility the recipient will hang on to it and contact you in the future.
3. Good manners when giving a business card
Always ask for one in return. This means you are serious about keeping contact with the people you meet. When you have been given a business card, don’t just put it in your pocket, read it!. This will only take a few seconds and you may find something to spark up a conversation. Then place it in your wallet or purse, rather than in your pocket. This lets them know that you have a sincere interest in the person whose card it is. Remember this saying: “If you make people feel important, this will make yourself important to them."
4. Don’t be shy
Give your cards out to everyone without everyone knowing you're giving them to everyone. You want to get as much exposure as possible, but at the same time want the recipient to feel that you are a little more particular about who you give your cards to. Give them to friends, to family, even give a couple at a time so they can refer your services. I once asked a chap who I met at a trade show if I could have a second card so I could pass this on to a colleague who may be in the market for their services, only to be met with: "Sorry, I only have a few left and I need them." This was not only a missed opportunity for him to network – but it gave me the impression that they were unprepared for this trade show.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals
When giving a business card to someone, ask if you think they know someone who may be interested in your services. Ask this in the form of a favour. People like to think they are helping you out and doing you a favour – it's less pushy. So start the conversation by saying: "Would you mind doing me a favour and pass this card on to someone you may think would need my services?" This is not a direct or abrupt question - it puts you in a better position by asking for help and the recipient will feel more obliged to pass the card on. And give them two cards, it won’t hurt!
6. Use every opportunity
Make the most of every chance you get to network, even at a children’s birthday party. Don’t be too pushy with people by forcing business cards down their throats as soon as you shake hands, but if you have been able to strike up a conversation, (this is even better if it's about work) if you feel comfortable on finishing the conversation, just politely ask: "Would you like to me to give you one of my cards?" They will politely accept it even if they have no intention of using it. But once again, there is a slight chance it will be kept or passed on to someone else. This type of chance marketing may be small but it costs next to nothing.
7. Get involved more
Rather than just being an attendee at an event, be part of it. If you volunteer to help out for free at a networking event, then this can put you in a much better position and give you heaps of reasons to talk to people. You are not just an audience member but part of the event. Giving up your time to help out will also do you no harm as you will be seen in a different light. Helping people is a great way to meet others. Put this into a business network and you can open up all sorts of opportunities, which would not be offered to you if you were just an audience member.
8. Follow up the first contact
Having been to that job interview or met a salesperson who enquired about your services, this is the obvious place to leave a business card – but don’t forget to follow up the meeting with another contact. How many times have you been told: "We’ll get back to you"? After the meeting, if they have not contacted you within a week, you need to be pro-active and contact them. Doing nothing else is never a good thing and can make the original meeting a waste of time. Being bothered to make contact afterwards not only proves that you are keen but that you can gain feedback on how it went. This is vital for future meetings with other prospective employers or customers. Even if you didn’t get the job or win the order this time, it won't hurt to get in touch and politely ask why. This will help you evaluate your presentation for the next time. Rather than just calling them afterwards, following up on a meeting with a thankyou letter is a different approach. This is an opportunity to drop them a business card into envelopeand will make you stand out from others. If this gets you nowhere, then still call to get the feedback.
9. Personalise your contact with new people
Newspapers are full of PR stories with people being promoted or newly appointed. This presents an opportunity to contact potential customers. A friend of mine started sending personalised hand-written letters congratulating the person he had read about in the local business news. Inside this letter he included a business card and on the footer of the letter, a small mention of who he was and what he did. This type of personal approach with potential contacts works on another level - you not only make them feel good about their recent promotion but they will feel obliged to reply to you.
10. You need a good slogan
Use a slogan which answers the question: "Why should I use your services?" This branding is the most important part of your business and should be conveyed on your business card. Don’t make it too dramatic, we are not selling a Hollywood blockbuster, but it has to have some meaning which is associated with you and your business. A slogan can be used to set you apart from your competitors – it's equally as important as your logo design. If you make it compelling, it will be remembered.