Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Art of the Card

"A product is something made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by the customer. A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless."  ~ Stephen King
If you are in business for yourself, the first thing you likely purchased is a business card. Business cards are an essential tool. They are sometimes the first thing that people see about your business. They tell a lot about who you are, what you do and how you do it.They are compact, low cost, non-techie bits that can actually increase the value of your brand and bring you business for days, weeks, months and years after they leave your hands. They are not networking in and of themselves, but without them it would be hard to network properly. They can inspire, amuse and inform. They can be mini-masterpieces of art.

{My business cards and hang tags were created by Jody Passwaters of Rethink Ink on Etsy using recycled paper and soy-based inks. If you stop by, tell Jody I said hi!}

Of course, business cards should have your name and contact information. But they can also include a lot more. They can be attractive and charming, unusual and strange... but no matter what they look like they should definitely tell the world something about you and your brand. Since they are so essential, I would argue that while it is tempting to use the pre-made templates through a service like VistaPrint (which I have used extensively in the past), in the long run you will be better off having your own distinct look. If you don't have the ability to create your own look, have someone create one just for you (check out Etsy, there are some surprisingly low cost packages from designers that would love your business creating a look for you!).

Business cards help you in two ways: gain business and get your name out there. Don't leave home without them! Whether your small business has clients locally or far and wide, don't overlook an opportunity to give them away... especially with every package you send (I write the essential information about the piece written on the back), tucked in every thank you note... and always carry some in your purse and in your car because you never know when an opportunity will present itself to leave a few behind. Like at your hairdresser... or your favorite restaurant... or with your accountant.

One tip to be sure that the card gets saved: hand write one thing on the back of the card, whether that is about the jewelry that you made,  a special sale code or even an essential contact method like your email or your blog. With that note on it the card is less likely to be tossed away.

I have amassed quite an extensive collection of business cards. Cards from vendors that I bought things from and ones I hoped to buy from.Cards from large online retailers. Cards from other jewelry artists to make connections with in the future. Cards from bead artists I admire. Chances are, if I ever purchased anything from you, I have your card. I never like to part with things that I collect. Not only might I need to buy from them again, but some of them are so beautiful that I couldn't bear to part with them.

One day I was at Michaels and found these really cute little recipe boxes for a few bucks. The sweet little bird illustration on the outside and the silver latch gave it a treasure box appeal. Inside were little dividers that had recipe categories like 'Salads' and 'Entrees.' I sorted my cards into stacks by medium (ceramic, polymer clay, glass, tools, beads, chain & components, artists, etc.) and then I used my Dymo to re-label the tabbed dividers and placed the cards in the box. Now I can keep them and have them handy for when I am searching for the perfect bead or component to work with.

As I was going though my stash, I came across a lot of Moo cards. Do you Moo? These quaint cards are about 1/2 the size of  a standard business card. What sets Moo cards apart is the extraordinarily high quality photography and printing on extremely durable and heavy cards stock with a soft matte finish. Just holding a Moo in your hands gets you hooked. The genius of Moo cards is that in one box of 100 cards you can upload up to 100 images. That's right. Each and every card in the box can be different. 

This makes them collectible in my eyes.

{Cute little box with dividers inside for holding your Moo cards. Here is the jumble of my Moo cards ~ 35 designs in all ~ and some close-ups}.

I wanted some Moos of my own with a special discount code for my Etsy shop on the back. For every order that I send out, one of these loyalty cards will go along with it and hopefully turn into repeat business. But I also wanted to find a to be inspired by my Moo card collection all the time.

As I was placing my order I came across the coolest thing: a frame that holds 20 of your favorite Moo cards in a multitude of different arrangements. If you've ever collected baseball cards, or have a child who does, you can see how this would become addicting! I have the frame filled with some of my favorite artists along with my own Moo cards to inspire. My goal is to swap out my cards in the frame with as many others as I can get from beady friends, because each card represents a connection to someone new. Who knows? Maybe I will get so many Moo cards this year that I will have to order more of these clever frames. ;-)

{My Moo Frame ~ I might use this at my next show with all the pictures from my personal Moo cards to show different pieces that I have made.}

Now it is your turn...

How do you use your business cards?
Do you collect business cards like I do?
Do you Moo? Tell us what you think of your Moo cards!
What other purposes can you think of to use your Moo cards or business cards? 

If you are interested in creating your own Moo cards, use this code ~ 2RB2CK~ to get 15% off your first order at the checkout. Go to Moo right now to get started!

Erin Prais-Hintz writes about all things that inspire her at Treasures Found::Inspiration Is Everywhere. Her jewelry designs are one-of-a-kind made one-at-a-time. She collects quotes and dust and invites you to send her your favorite (quote - not dust!) to Check out her brand spankin' new website at Tesori Trovati.


Judy said...

I love your cards Erin! I have a little addiction to business cards and actually have this book that is called "Calling Cards". I do can you not once you have held one of their cards.

I like the idea about putting a code on the back of the mini Moo's.

Lisa Godfrey said...

I have to admit, until I read this I had no idea what a moo card was! Cool idea though. I like the idea of having a coupon code on the back. I do save all my business cards but they aren't organized in any way. I don't use them to remember where I purchased something either. I just check my Etsy purchase history. But I also have to say that getting a package with a beautiful business card makes me feel like I'm buying from a real pro. :-)

JeannieK said...

GREAT POST ERIN! I will add that when I meet a prospective customer I always hand them 3 business cards. One for them, one for a friend and one for their rolodex. You can get business cards made to fit a rolodex.

But I'm also working on ways to eliminate that business tool altogether and reduce my carbon print.

Brandi Hussey said...

Okay, your business card holder is brilliant!! Brilliant! If I had one of those, I probably would collect cards left and right. As it is, I forget to hand mine out and ask for one in return... must get better at that!

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I don't have any business cards. OK, so I don't have a business either. But as I am seriously considering to sell a few pieces online soon, you now made me think that I may need some... I hate handing them out, but including them in a package is different somehow. I certainly like finding them in packages I receive, and I keep them all, so...

The only problem is that it seems a little bit expensive right now to buy a whole package without knowing if anything will sell at all. I'll probably just start by adding handmade cards with the first few items I ship, even though they might not look as professional. But they could be unique and well worth keeping anyway... I'm thinking of colourful paper with a kiwi stamped on it, and the adress etc. in the back. No idea how those would be received by customers, but I think I'll try making some tomorrow. We shall see.

Nicola said...

What a fantastic idea - thanks so much for sharing, Erin!!!

KristiBowmanDesign said...

I've definitely been meaning to moo!! My first set of cards was ok but they've gotten me through my first couple of years and I need to upgrade for sure! Thanks for all the info and the discount code!!!

Symbol Jewelry said...

Not really a business card person, but I do have a few cute ones that I "collect"...I guess. Those Moo cards look awesome, though! :)

Anne Betenson said...

I have just used up my first box of moos!They fly out faster than business cards ever do!And they are so cute.I do my own pics and upload my own artwork.It is very easy to do,I am not a computer expert but found it a doddle.

Carol B said...

Thanks for the business card organization idea! I have little stashes of cards here and there.

I looked at rethinkink's shop on Etsy. It looks like she doesn't do any custom design. Did she design your cards or just print them?

Do you have any recommendations of card/brand designers? I've tried a few on Etsy and haven't found one I liked.


Pretty Things said...

You know how much I love your packaging -- and now I'm in love with those Moo cards you made, and the Moo frame is brilliant!