After years of attending networking events, I have learned to really scrutinize business cards that I have collected. I have also watched what others have done with the business cards that they collect. One particular gentleman in my networking circles is very pragmatic: if someone’s business card doesn’t fit into his business card binder, he tosses it. Nothing annoys him more than oddly shaped business cards. He also discards any cards that do not easily describe what the business does. For example, my business name (Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel) makes it easy for him to know that I’m in the travel industry. If my business name was The Schaefer Agency, without a tagline describing my business, no one would know what kind of agency I operate (Insurance? Real estate? Talent acquisition?).
I now look at the business cards of other travel agents in a whole new light. What does the business card tell people about them? If someone looked at your business cards six months later, will they remember that you are a travel agent? Or will they struggle to try and remember who you are and what you do? Here are some tips on maximizing your business cards.
I am known for my business cards. I often hear “Oh, you are THAT travel agent with that cool business card!” My card is folded, giving me more real estate to work with and to fill with vital information about my business. When folded it is the size of a standard card, so it’ll fit into the business card slots in someone’s business card binder. My cards don’t get thrown away. I also have to urge folks to take more than one, because if they take only one they aren’t inclined to give it away to a possible referral.
Size DOES Matter
As I mentioned above, your card should be sized to fit into a business card holder or into credit card slot in a wallet. I’ve seen business cards that look like a dollar bill: really cool and memorable, and able to be folded to fit into a standard business card slot. Oversized or oddly shaped cards will be memorable, but you have to also think about whether or not they’ll hold onto your card. If there is not a convenient way for them to store or carry your card, it may get tossed or thrown into a drawer never to be seen again, no matter how “cool” it looks.
Have two different business cards. Spend the money on the cards for consumers (folded, heavier paper stock, gloss finish, full color, etc.). Then have a different card for suppliers (standard card size, nothing special, standard paper stock, black and while, etc.). Face it, you are out to impress your current and potential clients, not your suppliers. Spend more on the cards for consumers, and less on the cards for suppliers.
Another hint: create a different email address to clients. For example, consumers see firstname.lastname@example.org but suppliers are given email@example.com. It makes it a lot easier for me to manage my inbox if I can set up a rule that all emails from suppliers get dumped into an email folder of its own.
Don’t Be Vague
This goes back to the simple question: can they tell what service you provide? Can they quickly tell at a glance that you are a travel agent? If you are a Disney-exclusive agency, can they tell that by looking at your card? Never assume that they’ll bother checking out your website to figure out what you do. Most people, frankly, are too lazy to do that. If your business name does not have “travel” included in the name, make sure to include an explicit tag line that will leave no doubts in their mind. Even if it is as simple as “your go-to for all of your travel needs.”
What To Include
I know, this should be intuitive, but I’ve seen enough business cards to know that isn’t as intuitive as one might think. ALL of the following needs to be on your business card:
- Your name
- Your business name
- A tag line that describes what your business does
- Your mailing address (if you work from home, I do not recommend including your home address)
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your website address
An optional inclusion would be your picture. That has served me well, as I meet new clients, they are able to pick me out of a crowded Panera Bread or Starbucks, because they have my picture on my business card.
Business cards have two sides, use them both. Also use a type size that is big enough so people can read it without a magnifying glass. With two sides of a card, you don’t have to cram everything on one side, forcing you into a small font size.
Get A Second Opinion
Always get the impartial input from a third party, whether it is your graphic designer, your printer, a mentor, or another travel agent. Don’t rely on parents, spouses, or other family members to give you an unbiased opinion. Stick with the folks that are not emotionally invested in you, that will give you an honest opinion without worrying about whether or not they’ll hurt your feelings.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com) she focuses on travel for 18 to 23 year olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.