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Every time you hand out a business card, you’re handing off a piece of advertising that’s physically small, but can have a big impact. With the right design, and an effective hand-off technique, your humble card can have an even bigger effect on the people you give it out too.

Design Tips

1) Make it a multi-purpose card.

The business card has one primary purpose—to provide your contact details—but there’s no reason why the design can’t incorporate one or more other usages. And if your card has other functions, recipients are more likely to hold onto them for longer.

Many people in B2B occupations, for example, use the business cards they receive as tiny note cards to add relevant details about the business or the person who gave them the card. Make it easier for them by using a single-sided card with plenty of white space on the back for writing, or add the word “notes” to the back of the card as part of the design.

Whatever you choose to put on the back of a business card, make sure it’s not part of the essential nature of the card. Since most people assume the back of a business card is blank, all the important information, such as the name of the business and contact details, should be on the front.

2) Add a QR code or other tracking device.

Like other forms of print advertising, there’s no way to directly track how and when people use a business card. However, by adding a QR code or an SKU to the card design, you can track how many people use your card as a call to action. Add the code to the back of the card along with an incentive such as a discount or free consultation for using it, and you’ll be able to monitor the code usage to see how effective your incentive is.

3) Add a photo.

For each employee who uses a business card, give them the option to add their photo to the card design. There are several potential benefits to this: card recipients are more easily able to remember the card-giver, the addition of a photo helps to humanise the business, and it means that both the employee and the business are more likely to be perceived as likeable.

This is especially useful for professional events such as trade shows and exhibitions. Attendees often come home with dozens of cards, and the ones with photos are much more likely to stand out.

4) Add a short testimonial.

There’s not much space on a business card, but with an effective design there’s plenty of room to add a short customer quote, especially if you utilise the back of the card. Social proof—in the form of testimonials and product reviews—is hugely powerful, so it’s always beneficial to leverage this whenever possible. If you have great reviews on Yelp or another business review site, consider adding a link to your business page as an alternative.

Usage Tips

5) Use them like a credit card.

As in, don’t leave home without them. If you have business cards, make sure you’ve always got plenty with you. Keep a small supply in every wallet, purse, or briefcase, or handbag that you have, and keep a spare box in your car too.

Also be mindful of the many opportunities you have to use them—opportunities that aren’t limited strictly to business. While they’re great for handing out at professional events, adding to business letters, and including with purchases, there’s no reason why you can’t also hand them out to people you meet when socialising. Leave them everywhere you go—at restaurants or coffee shops, for example—and the more often you hand them out, the more likely you are to get results.

6) Find one or more networking partners.

Related but non-competing businesses or individuals can make great networking partners. When you visit them, ask if you can leave your own business cards at reception or the front desk area, and offer to do the same for them. Make sure to stay in touch regularly with your networking partners, to ensure they don’t run out of your cards.

7) Make the act of handing out cards more meaningful.

There are several ways to do this, and they don’t have to make a big splash. For example, write an extra phone number or email address just before you hand over the card, to provide additional contact information, and make the point that the recipient can reach you directly. Alternatively, hand over the card while you talk to the recipient about when you plan to follow up on your conversation.