Thursday, May 7, 2009

Minute for Marketing #4: Business Card Design Tips

Minute for Marketing is a weekly series about advertising the independent music studio. Click here to see all of the Minute for Marketing posts.

At least until every person has a smart phone, business cards remain the best physical tool for supporting word of mouth advertising. They're one of the most cost-effective advertising tools. They have the potential to be used over long periods of time and passed around from person to person. For what you'd pay for one newspaper ad which will be lining your bird cage tomorrow, you can print hundreds of cards which have the potential to ride around in wallets indefinitely. They can almost replace the need for flyers or brochures when they point a prospect to your web page. If you're using Twitter to promote your business, they can recruit more followers there as well. First impressions matter, so here are some tips on designing an effective business card.

1. Don't print them yourself. Thin, homemade cards say “I’m not a professional, and you won’t have to treat me like one.” It's worth spending a little money.

2. Use a local print shop if you can afford to. Creating a relationship with another local business is a marketing effort in and of itself. If their prices are out of reach, check some of the resources below.

3. Decide what kinds of students you want to attract and design your card to appeal to that target audience. You may feel that black script on a pristine white card best reflects your classical training and good taste, but if you will mostly teach children, a very formal card doesn’t communicate that you relate well to youngsters. It won’t catch anyone’s eye on the bulletin board at the coffee shop, either. Design an eye-catching card. If you use graphics, be aware of the message they send. For instance, if you use cartoony artwork or a photo of a child, it might suggest that you only teach young children and that you aren’t adept with more accomplished students.

4. Avoid glossy cards that smear if you write on them. (Pet peeve of mine!)

5. These days, marketing with Twitter is a hot topic. I admit that I'm not up to speed with it. So take my thoughts here with a grain of salt. Before you list your Twitter address on your card, I'd consider some things. 1) What image do you project with your tweets? 2) Do your tweets provide something valuable to your potential clients? 3) Are your potential clients tweeting? I can definitely see that if you are tweeting, say, the dates for kid-friendly arts events in your community, you might be well served by listing your Twitter address. (Is it called an "address?") But, if you're tweeting the menu from your dinner, maybe not.

6. Make sure that strangers can tell by looking at your card what you actually do. If your studio name could be confused for a music store or some other business, then add a tag line to explain. (Allegro Music, Piano lessons for all ages)

7. Make your cards useful. Your prospective parents probably have lots of refrigerator art, and magnets are useful! You can buy sheets of adhesive magnets and attach them yourselves. It is an extra expense, but if you do it strategically, it might be worth it. Other possibilities for creating useful cards - a calendar on the back, web addresses of local arts organizations, performance dates for a local concert series, a tip calculator, etc.

Here are some resources for printing and designing cards.

VistaPrint. Great prices. I’ve ordered from them and been pleased.

Zazzle. Quite a few piano-related designs, some in the mini-Moo size.

Moo MiniCards. Memorable and a little trendy without being over the top. Creating a buzz about your card is a good way to get your name traded around more.

How to find completely free images for business cards, flyers, blogs, etc.

30 Sites to Download Free Stock and Royalty Free Images.

For inspiration, a set of over 900 photos of business cards at Flickr. Some of these are quite creative. Remember, if it won't fit into a wallet, it's probably headed straight for the trash!

Photo: © Robertas Pėžas

Minute for Marketing by
Laura Lowe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


David said...

If you have a good web site, every piece of paper you send out (not just your biz cards)and every email you send out (use a sig file)should contain your Web address. If you have voicemail, include it in your announcement. If you wear T-shirts when out jogging or at the gym, get a few printed up with your address on back. Some print shops (Kinko's used to do this - not sure since the FedEx merger) will make up short-run bumper stickers with your address. In short, if you have a good web site, use every reasonable opportunity to tell people where it is located. Make it easier for them to find you.

David Miller
Piano Notes

Laura said...

Yes, these are good tips. Everything you put out should have your web address on it. I have more tips coming soon! Thanks for your comment.

Terri said...

First, let me say that I love your blog, and have found so many interesting topics! Thank you for sharing your time-tested advice!

In the area of business cards/websites for marketing purposes: Do you have any resource suggestions for choosing logos? Are there useful websites that would help me in creating my own, or is my best bet to hire a graphic designer to create one for me?

I have created a website through Music Teachers Helper, but would love to add my own personal logo that I could include on all communications (forms, business cards, facebook, etc.) Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!
Terri Minor

Laura Lowe said...

Hi, Terri, and thanks for your comment. There are several places online where you can create a logo for free. Just google "free logo" and you'll turn up lots. I don't use a logo, but have spent some time playing with the logo creator at Vistaprint -
Once you've created a logo, you can put it on Vistaprint products like business cards and stationery.

Anonymous said...

Minute for Marketing #4: Business Card Design Tips are amazing.
Plastic Business Cards