Creating your own business card on your home or office computer is an easy and economical way to get your business information noticed. With the availability of photo quality inkjet printers you can use color and even photos that would cost several times as much at a traditional printer. In this article, we will briefly touch on the history of business cards and then explore the options available in print-it-yourself business cards. Finally, we will offer some suggestions on how to best present your information and how to get your card noticed.
A Brief History
What we call business cards today evolved from Visiting Cards (also known as Calling Cards). They first appeared in 15th century China and in 17th century Europe. The use of these cards was governed by a sophisticated set of rules. Over time, Visiting Cards evolved into greeting cards, Trade Cards and other types of cards.
Visiting Cards, often considered the predecessor to the business card, appeared in England during the 17th century. They were first used by London merchants. They served to guide customers to a merchant's place of business as well as to advertise his wares.
In the United States in the 19th century, there was a rigid distinction between visiting cards and business cards. Visiting Cards were used primarily by the social elite as tangible evidence that one had met his or her social obligation. Business Cards, however, were just that – for business. It was considered to be in poor taste to use a business card when making a social call.
With today's technology, business cards come in all sorts or colors and materials and are a mainstay of the business world. It is still one of the most important tools in a businessman's arsenal.
Print Your Own Business Cards
There are many options when it comes to choosing a stock to print your own business cards. Blank, uncoated cards are available in different colors. There are matte coated cards suitable for including a photograph. There are also many cards available with a designer background and/or border. The good news is that they are all the same size and format which make printing them yourself easy. Many software programs include a template specifically for business cards. The most commonly used one is Microsoft Word®. You can find the template by going to tools > letters & mailings > envelopes & labels > options > Avery 3612 Business Cards. The neat thing about this is that you can print as many or as few as you need or need to reprint when circumstances change.
Tips for an Effective Business Card
The most important thing to determine when designing your business card is what exactly the card needs to accomplish. The fist impulse often is to cram as much information on the card as possible to meet all circumstances. This is not necessarily the best approach. Like other forms of advertising, you need to identify who you are appealing to and what information they need. Most cards are used to provide contact information for an individual. Other circumstances exist though. Perhaps you need to provide contact information for your business in general. For example, an ecommerce business might limit the information on a card to their name, web address, toll free number and customer service email address. Simple and straight forward is often the best. Another advantage to printing cards yourself is that you can print small batches to meet different needs.
Most business cards will have, at the least, an individual's name and/or the company's name. Other elements that you should consider are:
Address: an address is typical element of most business cards but, as in the example above, there are instances where an address isn't necessary. If the customer doesn't come to you, that space may be better used in another way.
Contact Methods: these can consist of telephone number, fax number, cell number, voice mail and email address. You can omit any that are not the preferred method of contact.
Web Address: this is, along with your email, is an essential element for any web-based business. This can also be an effective way to simplify you card by referring them to your website for more information.
Job Title: not required but, depending on the impression you are trying to convey, this can be useful in directing customers to the appropriate department or in creating an impression that the business is larger.
Logo: Consistently using a logo throughout you print and online media can help build your identity and brand loyalty. However, some logos don't lend themselves to the size constraints of a business card. One idea would be to fade the logo and use it in the background or bleed it off the edge. Another would be to eliminate it entirely but use the same color(s) on your card.
Tagline: this is best used when your company's name is ambiguous. Use a tagline to make sure your clients know what products or services you offer.
Now that you have determined what will be on your card, you can go about choosing the stock. The amount of information on the card may have a bearing on what you can choose especially if you are considering a card with a designer border or other graphic elements. Pre-printed cards come in many themes and colors. Everything from flowers to corporate designs. Choose something that will help your clients think of your business. Keep in mind the impression you want to create. Casual and fun or more business like and professional. It is usually best to keep the text as simple and readable as possible.
Business cards may be one of the smallest pieces of business communication but they are one of the hardest working.
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