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By Louis Tanguay, Special to California Business Journal.

Have you ever looked for quick and cheap solutions for business cards? How about brochures, postcards or even a website? We all figure, “Well, we’re just going to hand out 500 of these at the convention, networking mixer or meetup, so these don’t have to be expensive or fancy.” Then we hire someone to cheaply print up some “throw away” items for us to, well, throw away.

Keep this in mind the next time you consider getting “cheap and quick” cards: Anything you put out there into the world might be the only thing a potential client/customer might see from your company — and have to make a decision based off of that item. On its own. Without being there to explain how it was just a “throw-away” item – and that showing something of high quality wasn’t a top priority of yours.

How would that make you feel if the roles were reversed and you possessed that kind of transparency?

When designing a business card, think about the essentials. How does it look? Can you read the information on it, including the contact information? Does someone easily and immediately understand what exactly it is that your company does — and does it differently than the competition? Does this sound like a lot? Or not enough?

In a future article, I’ll get into how to create taglines, but for now keep in mind that with the diminished size of business cards coupled with the very high likelihood that you won’t be around to pitch your company to the recipient, you need to create a solid tagline, which clearly speaks to what you do and what you do well.

When you’re designing a postcard or flyer remember to keep the information clean. Too many times, business owners want to cram all their information and offerings onto two sides of the same small piece of paper.

If the information is too much and the design too busy, the recipient won’t know where to look or what information is most important to gather from your collateral.

I can write multiple books (and I am, actually) on marketing and marketing best practices, but I wanted to leave you with this very important thought: Your next big client — who might refer another big client to you — will be receiving either that cheap and easy templated business card you had created through the help of templates or websites or they can be receiving your slightly thicker business card with soft touch “silk” coating and professionally-designed business card and brochure to match.

Whichever one it is…is up to you…so choose wisely.

Your next big contract might depend on it.

Louis Tanguay is Managing Director of Circle Marketing. He founded the agency seven years ago during the recession. Having over 20 years of marketing and business experience, Louis wanted to help businesses acquire and retain the essential abilities and strategies to survive in any economy. Circle Marketing is a full-service marketing agency for small businesses and serves as a one-stop shop for all marketing and advertising needs.