I am going to make a grand assumption…

I bet you have a stack of other people’s business cards somewhere around your workspace that you kind-of, sort-of, should really, do something with—if only you knew what/where/when/how and/or had the time to do it.

Am I right?

We all end up with this business card dilemma for two specific reasons.

  1. We don’t have a system in place to deal with incoming cards.
  2. You’ve been given business cards that are uninspiring and have no clear call to action.

So, what do you do?

First, remember cards = customers

So here’s the thing—some of those cards could belong to people who would be great customers for you, AND if their cards end up lying around on your desk, your cards might end up lying around on theirs!

It’s this next action that brings someone closer to becoming a customer, as they probably won’t buy from you straight away, but you CAN build a relationship with them by taking small steps and encouraging them to know, like, and trust you and your business.

Each business card deserves a follow-up message

For every card you receive, you should make an effort to do some sort of follow-up with that person. This can be as simple as sending an email (you can cut and paste the message, don’t panic!) or give them a call. My idea of a good follow-up message goes something like this:

Hi [put their first name in here],

It was great to meet you at [wherever you met them], and I’d love to keep in touch.

I’m going to send you a LinkedIn request, and you can find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/yourtwitternamehere. I’d be happy to follow you back.

[If there was something specific you talked about, refer to it here. Maybe send them a link to an article on the subject they might find interesting]

Take care, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

[Your name]

P.S. I thought you might like to know about our regular information email as well, as you might find it useful to you/your clients [include as appropriate]. The sign up link is: [put in your sign up link] and you can read a previous edition here [link to an archive copy].

Make sure your cards have a clear call to action

If you’re tired of receiving business cards from other people that are uninspiring and give you no reason to follow-up, then learn from their mistakes.

Make sure your business cards provide a clear call to action so the receiver actually wants to follow-up.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when creating your business cards:

Karen Haller (www.karenhaller.co.uk) uses her cards to promote her free colour branding guide

ALWAYS use double sided business cards.

On one side of your card, put your contact information—you don’t know how people will want to connect with you— so that means including your email, mobile phone number, and links to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Page, website, etc.

Now, on the BACK of your card, put your call to action (CTA). What that call to action is depends on who your contacts are. A CTA that works for most people is to encourage them to sign up for your mailing list.

With Constant Contact, you get a special QR code to increase sign ups, which is ideal for putting on business cards. Just make sure you give people a reason to do it, e.g. “Get exclusive hints and tips delivered to your inbox weekly” is better than join our mailing list.

Alternatively, you can use the back of your card to promote a social campaign. Facebook promotions encourage Facebook users to “Like” your business Page in exchange for something special like a discount voucher or downloadable guide.

Now … get to it!

Now that you know how to use your business cards (and those you collect from others) to get more customers, put the information to work and watch your customer base grow.

If you use any of the techniques above—or have some other ideas that have worked for you— I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.