MARLTON, N.J. — After every trade show I attend, I sit down and go through the business cards that I have received and come up with a plan to reach out to those that I have met. Two weeks after returning from the LCT Eastern Conference, I’m resorting to my trusted practice.
I typically go through the cards and sort them into piles. The biggest pile is usually the “Nice to meet you — stay in touch” pile followed by the “Need to send information or need to follow up on potential story or business.” The last pile is everyone else.
I jump in first on the “Nice to meet you” pile. I typically have a standard generic letter that I write and I customize part of it for everyone I meet. This takes time, but I feel that it is worth the effort and it helps me to remember the people I met. During the show, I write on all of the business cards I get. I note where I met them and what they discussed. I may even note what a person looks like to jog my memory. I am going through those cards now and I thought I would share some observations on business cards.
Our industry does a poor job when it comes to business cards. Perhaps it is because we want everyone to think we are “worldwide” businesses, so we fail to put any information about our company. Why is it that we don’t include our address or at least the locations of our company headquarters? I have nine cards in front of me that do not include a person’s name. Who were these people I met? How will I remember them?
I have a small pile of business cards (that is a subset of my “Nice to meet you” pile) of people I met who did not include their names on their business cards. This seems to me that it should be the most obvious thing people put on their cards, but I am amazed at the number of them without any information. I remember one or two, but for the most part, I don’t know who these people are. I am good, but I am not that good. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t include your name on your card. Perhaps you use your cards for other things, such as for your chauffeurs to give out to clients and you don’t want them calling you directly. The answer to this is not to hand out the generic cards at networking events. You just spent money to attend the event and your return on investment is zero if people don’t know who you are by your business card. Business cards are the least expensive marketing tool you have and the most important. Don’t shortchange it by having a one-stop card that doesn’t do the job.
I know many of the operators in the industry profess being worldwide providers, but you still have a home base. At networking events such as the LCT shows, people want to know where you are from. They want to know how you serve your local accounts and how you will take care of their clients when they are in your town. If you don’t include the town where you are based, how will they know what territory you cover locally? I always feel like companies have something to hide when they leave out their location.
I have mixed feelings about images on business cards. I have seen so many that have a picture of a limousine and a sedan with the company name “ABC” above it. I get the impression that these companies are strictly retail companies. I would prefer to see a logo on a card that builds your individual brand. Photo cards are great to hand out to consumers but they are not business cards that you should hand out when you are trying to land an affiliate or corporate accounts. Look at the image your business card is portraying and be certain that is the image you want for your company.
I admit it — I write on business cards. I hate cards that are glossy on both sides, as there is nowhere left to write anything. If I have a client who only uses Cadillacs in Chicago and you tell me you have a fleet of them there at a show, I will write that information on your card. I may not see you again at the show, but when I get back I will want to be able to find you quickly. The information that I wrote on your card is important. If you have a completely glossy card, often what I write smudges. I may lose valuable information.
Size of fonts
This may just be picky on my part, but I hate to have to pull out a magnifying glass to read your email address or phone number. Make your fonts legible and not so small that they are difficult to see.
How to reach you
Make sure that your phone and email address are on your card. After I meet you and I call your company or email you, I want to reach you — the person I met at the show — not your gatekeeper who is determined to keep people away from you. If you don’t want people to reach out to you, give them the generic cards that your chauffeurs use. Maybe that’s what those nine people did to me!
Source: Linda Jagiela, LCT Magazine