by Scott Bourne
It's one of the oldest and most basic marketing tools in any business. The business card. Or "calling card" as it's referred to in some places.
I read a surprising statistic the other day. Young people are moving away from business cards. I think that's a mistake. I think it's a BIG mistake if you're an emerging professional photographer.
A business card is like a mini post card. You can put an image on one side and your contact info on the other. You can decide to make a graphic that shows your social media presence on one side and your contact info on the other. You can choose to convey quality by getting a highly-designed, expensive letter-press card. There are lots of options. And all of them are good. But there are a few guidelines I've found helpful over the years that I'd like to share.
1. Keep it simple
If you're going to use a photograph use ONE photo - your BEST photo. Don't try to cram four images onto a 2.5 x 3.5" card.
2. Keep it simple II
Don't cram every single bit of information you can think of onto the card. Here's what's important.
a. Your name - or studio name in BIG BOLD easy-to-read letters.
b. Your phone number. Yes your phone number. "But Scott, then people will call me!" Yes - isn't that wonderful? You get calls from clients and eventually they give you money. It's really amazing and something you should be breathlessly waiting for so yes - put your phone number on the card and make it easy to find and read.
c. Your email address. Today people like to email. So put your email address on the card. Note: If your email address is something like "firstname.lastname@example.org that is TOO FREAKING LONG. So get another simple email address that you can link to your primary email account that's easy to type. "email@example.com" etc.
d. Your studio address if you have one - no mailing address otherwise. If you want people to come to your studio, put the address on the card. But this is the least important info on the card. People will call or email before coming by and you can give them the info then.
e. An alternative to some or all of the above is your web gallery URL in big, bold letters. If you prominently display all the information above at your website, then you can get away with maybe just a phone number and a URL.
3. Make it easy to read
PLEASE for the love of Pete do NOT use black type on a black card. Yes I know the beanie-wearing designer told you that looked very cool but it's simply not readable. Avoid a dark background on your business card and reversed type (unless it's very simple like your Twitter handle and nothing else on that side.) Simple white or light colored backgrounds with dark ink are easier to read. I can't tell you how many people have given me business cards that I tossed because I just can't read them.
4. Have more than one business card
Going to a trade show? Have business cards made at someplace cheap like Vista Print that give your basic info. These are more likely to be thrown away or lost so don't spend a lot of money on them. Meeting in studio with high-end clients? Have a nice letter-press card to hand to these people. Try to have at least two or three different cards because not all business cards are right for all situations.
5. Hand them out to everyone
This is my final piece of business card advice. If you're going to make the darn things carry them EVERYWHERE you go and hand them out to anyone and everyone. Each business card is a mini-billboard that can lead to a big client. The more you hand out, the more likely you are to get a call. You never know who will respond or when, but it's worth handing the cards out to as many people as possible. They are one of the most inexpensive pieces of marketing material you can use.
As a side note, I once got a wedding job because someone found my card in the trash. True story. A woman was waiting at the printer to see about invitations for her daughter's wedding. I had been there earlier in the day trying to convince the owner of the printing company to refer me to brides who might need photography. He said he had enough such relationships but I gave him the card anyway. I assume he promptly tossed it into the trash. It just so happens his trash can was full that day and my card landed photo-side up. The woman waiting for her chance to talk to the printer found the card, liked the image, called and booked me. Like I said - hand these things out everywhere. You never know what they may lead to.
As always - each marketing move you make starts by getting off the couch and doing SOMETHING so hop to it. Skip and I are rooting for you.