Some say that in this modern age of ubiquitous smartphones and continuous digital connection, old-fashioned dead-tree business cards are just a quaint and pointless tradition. To these people, I say, “Poppycock!” Business cards used to be a way to quickly exchange contact information, but as branding (both personal and professional) takes center stage, you need to expect more from your business cards.
To make the most of your business cards, you need to use the whole card. That means both sides of it. Yes, Rolodexes and other business card holders are designed with the assumption that business cards are one-sided, but that doesn’t mean the back side should go to waste. What’s more, you don’t want your card to get filed away with hundreds of others and forgotten.
You need to give your business card a mullet: Business on the front, party on the back.
Business on the front
The traditional formula for a business card is your name, your title, your contact information (address, phone and e-mail), the company logo and maybe a website address. Savvy professional that you are, you’re automatically wary of any one-size-fits-all solutions and so take a closer look at what you put on the front of your card.
Your name, your title and the company logo are pretty standard necessities. Give some thought to what contact information you put on your card, though. Only print the information that you actually want someone to use to contact you:
- Can’t work the fax machine? Leave it off.
- Don’t want people calling you outside work? Leave off your personal cellphone number.
- Don’t want business prospects to follow your personal Twitter account? Don’t put it on there.
- Is all your business done online, or do you travel to where your clients work? Don’t include your business’s entire physical address; just the city and state is enough.
Now think about what you want the person who receives your card to do. (Is there a call to action on your business card?) If you want a potential client or customer to do something online, don’t take them to your homepage. Instead, include a URL deeper in your website, farther into the sales funnel.
Businesspeople can wear many hats, so you might consider printing different business cards for different situations.
Party on the back
The “party” in this case is a closer look at your brand. Some online printers, such as Moo, let you print a different design or image on every card, so your options are vast. So think about your brand, what it represents, and how it’s different from your competition.
The back of your business card is your chance to begin setting your brand apart. You could include product images, company photos (both staged and candid), inspirational quotes, testimonials, personal contact info or something related to your business that the card holder will find useful: a metric conversion chart, a tip calculator, cocktail recipes, a tire wear gauge.
You’re limited only by your imagination.
I first encountered the mullet business card at the Blog Indiana 2011 social media conference. This was where I first met Paul D’Andrea, a local independent art photographer. He gave me his card. The front bore the usual type of contact and social media information, and on the back was a very colorful photograph — one of his own.
He passed a card to the person next to me, and I saw that had a different picture on the back. We both wondered aloud if he had more. Paul then laid about a dozen business cards on the table, each with a different picture on it. We passed them around the table, looking at each one. I “traded” the one he had originally given me for another that I liked better.
Two years later, I still have that business card with the beautiful photograph on the back of it, though I’ve never needed to hire a photographer and I can reach Paul on Facebook or Twitter whenever I want.
The card itself became something valuable, it showed off Paul’s talent and business results, and it was memorable. If that isn’t good branding, I don’t know what is?
The whole card
It’s all about the branding. Your business card, both the front and the back, should present a consistent branding message, which means not only the logos, fonts, mottos and colors, but your brand’s culture and outlook as well.
So give your business card design some thought. Give it a mullet so that the next time you give one away, you give more than just your name and contact info.
You’ve probably seen some amazing, thoughtful and creative business cards in your dealings. We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.