The Art of Business Cards

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I just got done with all my business cards I collected throughout CES 2009. It was interesting to see how many people I connected with this last week. Some were , some were bloggers, others were just contacts. Then there was the group of people that I call “Colleagues”. People like Robert Scoble, Andreu Edwards, Joel Evans and Helena Stone. Even the co-horts of Andy McCaskey and Todd Cochrane – all of these people make my list.

The Art of Business cards seems to be the same as it has been in the last 50 years. In fact, the most disappointing thing was when I approached a person and they said “I just ran out of cards”.

5 years ago, there was a hubub about “Beaming” cards. On the PDA (like an or Palm Pilot), you had an option to beam your digital card to the other device. I did that a few times in the early part of 2000, but that technology never seemed to solidify for people. What was interesting about it was the time you actually save when the card is beamed into the PDA. It could instantly be cataloged and emails could be extracted quickly.

Still, we make it a point to have a drawn up – 2 by 3 and half inches. Some of us really dress up that card. With current technologies, we can take that plain old white card and make it into a special item.

Microsoft had a card at CES – It was in the shape of a 5 and a quarter inch black floppy disk. Other cards I’ve seen had rounded edges, cutouts and a lot more. magicJack’s business card was on a thick plastic stock, like a credit card. I have seen cards in the shape of a credit card, too. Unfortunately, they didn’t work like one.

I remembered some cards that were mini-CD Roms in which I thought that would be the next level. It had a print side and a data side. came around and although they don’t fit in the wallet, it does give the user data about the company. Add print on the drive: name, email and phone number – that would be the ultimate card.

Business cards are easy to get done. Using a program like Photoshop, you can create your own. Call up Staples, Kinkos or your favorite copy shop and you can have 1 page to a thousand cards made up for under $100.

Vista Print lets you print 250 business cards for free, if you can tolerate the email and mail spam they send. Also, if you look at the cards, on the flip side you will see the Vista Print URL. Something free may not always end up that.

Ponzi Pirillo put me on to this one – Moo.com. It takes your Flickr photos and turns them into personalized business cards. On one side: your information – the other: one of a few pictures on your Flickr photo stream. It’s not a free service, but it can give you many different products like business cards, greeting cards, stickers, postcards and a whole lot more.

I also have printed my own cards before. There are a couple of different types of paper – perforated for easy detachment. Only problem is it can look like a printer – made card and sometimes in a wallet can bleed through.

However you want to design your card – sometimes snazzy makes a difference. However, a plain white card can make even more of a statement.  Keep it simple stupid – the Kiss rule. You can add color, designs or other items, but if the receiver cannot read the card, then it’s pretty much useless.

I did get one card that was like that. It looked good, but then was difficult to read the name or email address. I needed this contact, so I strained through the picture to extract the information. If I wouldn’t have needed the info, I would have just tossed the card.

There are ways to utilize your business cards to the maximum. Using them as notepads, stapling them to other brochures, posting them to bulletin boards or throwing them in fish bowls for free lunches. It’s so interesting that something so simple can be so powerful. Yet, although the concept of the business card hasn’t changed, the technology behind it has.

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