The Other Seven Square Inches

Business cards are an entrepreneur’s DREAM. It’s hard to imagine a marketing tool with more versatility or portability, especially for the price.

Even better, people EXPECT you to hand out your business card. That’s why a savvy businessperson creates business cards that contain more than just contact details, or creates more than one style of business card. Let’s face it, how many times are you INVITED to market to someone?

There’s just one little flaw with business cards. They’re SMALL!

Traditional cards are 2″ by 3.5″, or a mere seven square inches.  That’s not much room to present your company mission or philosophy; your products and their benefits; your experience and credentials; your professionalism and work ethic and your sterling reputation.

So why do so many people WASTE the extra seven square inches on the back of a business card?    Two possible answers come to mind:

  1. You don’t think the advantages of adding extra information to the back side of your business card outweighs the extra cost.  (Yes, there usually IS an extra fee to print on the back side, although it’s not usually a significant amount.)
  2. You don’t know what to say or what other information someone might want.

To answer the first, you have to realize that more than 90% of business cards are THROWN AWAY the day they’re received. Since you don’t want YOUR card to wind up in someone’s trash can, designing a card that people will KEEP is critical.

So why DO people hang on to certain cards, and not others?

  • The card is a connection to a colleague, a resource, or a possible customer.
  • The card is kept for social, non-business reasons (I have Bill and Hillary Clinton’s cards from when they were in the White House.  Will I use them?  No.  But they’re GREAT conversation-starters!)
  • The card will be used to refer business to someone.
  • The card (or the person who owns the card!) is attractive, humorous, useful or interesting.

Of those reasons, the one most important during the design stage is the latter. A reputable printer can help you create an attractive, high-quality card. It’s up to YOU to add the useful or interesting information that will transform your card into a “keeper”. The back side of your card is usually the best location for that information, which can be hand-written (if you can write legibly!) or pre-printed.Commonly-added facts and/or figures include maps, store hours or locations, and “fill-in-the-blank” appointment forms. While undeniably handy for certain companies, those ideas presume that the cardholder is already a customer or has already decided to do business with you. They merely need directions to your store, for example.

If your card is also used as a prospecting tool for your business, it’s a good idea to select information that will be referred to more that once or that is critically important. It’s more effective if you associate the information with the type of business you do.

You could add:

  • Emergency phone numbers
    Example: Parents would appreciate the phone numbers of such agencies as the local poison control center, the ambulance service, and the “Ask a Nurse” program. Appropriate for: day care providers, teachers, health agencies.
  • Phone numbers for city services
    Example: The phone number for the city clerk, the animal control officer, the recycling center, the crime prevention program, other public utilities, the health department, and the like.  Appropriate for almost any business, particularly those which cater to homeowners or new residents.
  • Conversion charts and tables
    Example: fabric yardage conversion charts, metric conversion charts, tables of weights and measures
  • How to change a tire, how to jumpstart a car, or automobile accident procedures
    Appropriate for: insurance companies, auto salespeople, towing agencies, auto parts stores, et cetera
  • HTML tags, list of emoticons, URLs for search engines
    Appropriate for: web designers, web hosting companies, Internet service providers, those who sell computers or teach computer classes.

You’re also sure to receive a warm reception if you hand out business cards that offer discounts. A particularly creative idea is to contact related but non-competing businesses and ask them to offer a discount to anyone who presents your card. You list the cooperating businesses, and their discounts, on the card back.

For example, a realtor could list a lawn care company, a pest control service, a painter and a chimney service. As an added bonus, these cooperating businesses will often pass out your card FOR you, since that discount also brings in more business for THEM.

You can also use business cards as the basis of an innovative and inexpensive marketing campaign. I read of a bar which prints jokes on the back of its business cards. They have found that their customers show the funny cards to others and return to the bar frequently to pick up the latest edition. Since they usually buy a beer or drink while they’re there, this has been great for business.

You could adapt that idea by designing a collection of business cards. You’re probably familiar with the trading cards that children collect and know how important it is to them to complete a set. Use that idea for your own business.

You could create, say, four different business cards with a different number (such as “#2 of 4”) on the back of each card.  (The back of each card could also include an ad for a different product or a different service.)

Pick a week to begin and pass out your #1 card to each customer.  Tell them that you will hand out a different card for each of the next three weeks. At the end of that month, anyone who returns to your store and shows you ALL FOUR CARDS will win a prize or be entered in a drawing.

With a little thought, and for a very modest price, you can create a card which your customers and prospects keep, remember, and use. Simply add useful data to the OTHER seven square inches on the back of your card . People will keep your card, refer to it often, and perhaps even show it to others. Every time they do, they will be reminded of your business and how helpful you are.