A business card represents the next step in making your small business dream a reality. And for many potential customers, it’s the first interaction they’ll have with your brand – so, make sure it’s a positive one.
A thoughtfully-designed business card does more than carry your contact information. It will make you look professional, build trust in customers, and set your small business apart from others. But before you start giving out business cards to everyone you meet, stop and ask yourself: What makes a good business card? How can you make it stand out, and ultimately bring in more business?
The answer: A careful combination of the information you include, and how you present it. Here, we’re giving you 10 essential tips on how to design a business card that best represents you (and your business!). Be on the lookout for advice from Tristan Le Breton, Creative Director at AbillionZ. AbillionZ is a creative platform that specializes in connecting graphic designers with their clients to create logos, websites, and more.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to design a business card:
- Find a template that reflects your brand’s personality.
- Find the right typeface.
- Settle on a size and shape.
- Organize your information.
- Do double duty.
- Maximize your logo.
- Leave some white space.
- Add something special.
- Include a call to action.
If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that the world – and small business – is constantly evolving.
This past year, we saw many small businesses quickly adapt, from breweries producing hand sanitizer to music teachers instructing classes on-screen to retailers accepting touchless payments. We saw new businesses pop up, from homemade face mask makers to takeout-only eateries.
If you started a new business this year, you can use branding to turn it into something sustainable. And if your business has shifted since you first started, you can refresh your branding to show customers your adaptability, perseverance, and new offerings. If your line of products and services has changed dramatically, it could be time for a complete rebrand. But if you simply want to update the look of your brand, a straightforward refresh could be an easier solution.
A new year is a perfect opportunity to make some updates to your brand – check out these 6 reasons to rebrand or refresh, then use the decision tree at the bottom of the page to evaluate your business and decide your best next step.
Top 6 reasons to rebrand or refresh:
- Your offerings have changed.
- You want your business to be evergreen.
- Your logo feels outdated.
- Your branding doesn’t stand out.
- You’re struggling to attract new customers.
- You serve a different geographic area.
1. Your offerings have changed.
Picture this: you started out as a private caterer, and now you’ve expanded to offer weekly meal pick-ups and delivery. Perhaps you created your business to sell apparel and accessories, and expanded your offerings to fashion-forward face masks. Or, maybe your business was initially a seasonal operation, but now you’re open year-round. If your current branding puts you in a box, it might be time to update your logo to reflect your new offerings.
2. You want your business to be evergreen.
We’ve seen so many creative new business endeavors over the last nine months. If you’ve come up with a timely business idea that’s been successful, how can you scale it to be relevant forever? Use your branding to create an enduring image of your small business.
Maybe you used your sewing skills to launch a face mask business and want to pursue this crafty new side hustle – but hopefully we won’t be wearing masks forever. What else can you make and sell, and how can your branding reflect this? Whether with a name change (turn Masks by Maya into Handmade by Maya) or an updated logo, a rebrand can turn your timely venture into something that can last forever.
3. Your logo feels outdated.
Your logo should be a visual representation of what your business does. If your products and services have shifted, you may need to reflect that in a new business identity.
Aside from your actual business offerings changing, styles change, too. If you opened your doors a decade ago, your logo was probably modern and reflected your personal style (and your business). But now, maybe the color palette, font, or design feel a little passé. Consider modernizing your brand image with an updated logo that capitalizes on today’s design trends.
Need help refreshing your logo or designing a totally new one? ABILLIONZ Design Services team is here to help.
4. Your branding doesn’t stand out.
Your branding is often a potential customer’s first visual exposure to your small business…so, you need to stand out.
Maybe you were inspired by one of your favorite brands when you first designed your logo and thought about your own brand identity. It’s always a great idea to take design cues from companies you love and respect, but you need to make sure you’re distinctive enough to stand out. If the typeface or color of your logo looks like another brand’s (especially one that’s in the same industry as you), you should think about redesigning.
5. You’re struggling to attract new customers.
If you’ve been providing the same services and products to the same people, your brand could appear stale or outdated. And even if you have been adapting to meet the needs of new customers, your branding might not reflect that.
It can be tempting to stay the same and retain your current clientele, but if you avoid making updates, you’ll never attract new customers – especially if your offerings have changed and you have a chance to connect with new customers. When refreshing your logo, aim to balance the integrity of your existing brand with more modern design elements. You still want your current customers to recognize your brand and know where to find you.
6. You serve a different geographic area.
Did a viral Instagram post create demand for your product in locales other than your town’s farmer’s market? Since your restaurant started offering takeout, have you widened your delivery zone? Or, perhaps a newly launched e-commerce experience has made it easier for customers to shop from all over the globe?
If your audience has grown (congratulations, by the way!), you should take a step back and look at your branding from a broader perspective. Think about how your brand translates, whether in a neighboring region or another country.
Find out if you need to REFRESH or REBRAND – follow this decision chart to find your next best step.
Time to refresh?
In some cases, you might not need to implement a total rebrand. A brand refresh lets you update visuals and refine your messaging without completely overhauling your brand – see some examples below. Consider updating the font and colors of your logo, or tweaking your tagline to something more contemporary. By modernizing your brand, you’ll make it more appealing to a broader, more current audience. Since you don’t have to change any core messaging, brand refreshes can be a straightforward, inexpensive process.
Time to rebrand?
If you decide that your business does need a rebrand, you’ll need more than a new logo or even a new name. Consider writing a new tagline or slogan and picking new fonts and colors to use across branded materials (like your website, social posts, in-store signage, and more).
Whatever you decide, make sure to get the word out.
Whether you decide to rebrand or refresh your brand identity, it’s essential to get the word out about your update. Mail postcards to your customers debuting your new look, create an eye-catching Instagram post announcing your brand’s update, or send an informative newsletter to your email subscribers announcing your rebrand.
Whether you’re a brand-new small business owner or a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of free and low-cost marketing options. From social media posts to customer events, there’s a lot you can do to promote your business and build customer loyalty…without spending a fortune.
Here, we’re covering 13 inexpensive marketing ideas to boost your small business any time of year.
- Social media
- Video content
- Email newsletters
- Directory listings
- Business cards
- Loyalty programs
- Business partnerships
- Business partnerships
- On-the-go branding
- Local press
- Customer events
- Community sponsorships
- Personal touches
Most social media platforms are free to use, and many offer low-cost advertising options in addition to organic posting. When it comes to using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn for your business, make sure you create on-brand posts, share regularly, and engage with your followers. Get creative with a mix of in-feed and Stories posts to diversify your content and keep followers excited.
An easy way to boost engagement and gain new followers is by running a giveaway – giving away a piece of merchandise or service should be relatively low-cost for you. Encourage followers to tag their friends in the comments or share your post to their own page to attract potential customers.
With free streaming platforms like YouTube and TikTok readily available, take advantage and start creating dynamic content for your business. Whether a stop-motion video of your ceramics process or a tutorial on kneading bread, on-brand video content can help elevate your brand.
Stay connected with customers digitally – email newsletters are a great way to share updates about your small business, send promotional offers, and reinforce your brand identity. Use your newsletter to share new video content and blog posts, too! Encourage customers to sign up for your newsletters to receive subscriber-only offers and get early access to sales.
If you use any kind of vehicle for your small business, make sure it’s branded with your logo and contact information. Whether it’s a delivery truck or an electric scooter, an informational sticker or magnetic sign can spread the word in a cost-efficient way.
Maximize your mileage – order a magnet for each side of your vehicle.
Get your brand out there by letting your customers do the work. Think: paper bags stamped (or stickered!) with your logo and branded reusable tote bags.
Bag customer orders in a fabric tote – they’ll use it again and again, and spread the word about your business.
Can you become a sponsor for a youth sports team or participate in a fundraiser for a local community center? Donating money – and time – is a great way to get your brand out there, create positive buzz around your business, and help you connect with potential clients in your area.
Small business is all about community – get the most out of your by partnering with other makers, whether from your online network or your local main street. If you sell artisanal soaps, ask a nearby spa if they want some samples for thank-you packages. If you make custom home decor, partner with a local realty group to design one-of-a-kind closing sale gifts. The options are truly endless!
It doesn’t get more classic than a business card! Make sure you always have a few in your pocket…you never know when you’ll run into a potential collaborator. On your business card, make sure to include your contact information and social handles.
Make your cards stand out with a foil finish or eye-catching shape.
Make your business card work twice as hard – on one side, add a promotional offer or a punch-card design for in-store rewards.
It might sound obvious, but don’t overlook the small personal touches – these extra gestures go a long way. Whether it’s a handwritten thank-you card, a coupon for their next order, or a birthday discount, make them feel special with a polished personal touch.
Use a branded postcard to add something special to every order.
10Online directory listings
Make sure your business is listed on every major search engine – this will ensure your business appears in search results and will also improve the reputation and search value of your website.
Whether a private shopping event, one-on-one craft studio tour, or a virtual flash sale, show appreciation for your customers with a special event…without spending too much money. Even if you can’t appreciate them with a huge in-person party, get creative with on-screen or digital events.
Keep customers coming back with a great loyalty program. Whether it’s a free goodie after five purchases or a discount code for their birthday, promotions and personalized rewards are a great way to make customers feel special…and encourage them to click ‘Buy.’
Did you redecorate your brick-and-mortar shop? Are you hosting an open house in your studio? Donating a portion of profits to a charity? All of these things are newsworthy when it comes to the local press. If you’re doing something big for your business, reach out to an area media outlet with a press release – there’s a good chance you’ll be featured, and word will spread about your business.
Writing a marketing plan may sound daunting to some…but don’t worry. We’re here to walk you through how to create a marketing plan, step by step. And once you get organized and put your ideas down on paper, it’s actually pretty easy – and maybe even a little fun.
So, what is a marketing plan, anyway? In a nutshell, it’s a document that outlines your high-level marketing strategy, efforts, and results. Your marketing plan should directly ladder up to your overall business goals and mission. The good news is that a marketing plan doesn’t have to take a lot of time, money or effort. It just needs to be researched, well thought-out and executed in a timely fashion.
At the end of the day no matter how good your product or service is, if you don’t have customers or don’t know how to reach any customers, you aren’t going to meet your goals. That’s why having a small business marketing plan is so important – it will help you stay focused on finding (and retaining!) customers.
You often hear about businesses that stumble upon success and achieve their goals overnight. In reality, most businesses aren’t that fortunate. More typical is the tale of the suburban couple who used their last penny to buy tons of beads and wire to start a jewelry company…then realized they didn’t have any funds left to market their new venture.
Moral of the story? A marketing plan is crucial for any small business and should be at the forefront when creating your overall business plan. And now that you know what a marketing plan is, let’s talk about how to start writing one for your small business.
According to small business experts, a marketing plan is comprised of three main parts:
- Customers. Who exactly is your target audience? Be specific! More details and data will make it easier to focus your marketing efforts.
- Competition. Who are you competing against? Learn as much as you can about your competitors so you can determine how to best position and promote yourself.
- Strategy. How will you attract your customers? A marketing strategy should include everything you’ll do to promote your product or service – and turn a profit.
1. Identify your market and customers.
Identify your market and customers.
Start by considering the problem your product or service solves and the need it fills. For example, maybe you’re a photographer offering family portraits. Taking a family photo isn’t necessarily difficult or overcomplicated, but you’re filling a need by capturing precious moments, marking milestones, and creating beautiful wall art.
Now, look at the market. How many people buy what you sell every year and how much do they spend on their purchases?
- Don’t guess at this information. Research it with the following tools:
- Online searches will give you national statistics about the size of the market.
- Search the U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts page for local demographics.
Your local U.S. Small Business Development Center or SCORE office offers free help.
Next, describe your most likely customers. Remember, “everyone” isn’t a market. Neither is “all moms,” or “women who like shopping.” Those categories are too broad. Look for niches within big markets such as “young moms who use Instagram daily,” for example.
Look for common characteristics shared by customers. Depending on what you sell, those may include:
- Age. What is your target’s general age? Knowing how old they are will help you narrow down how to advertise to them. For example, millennials tend to prefer social media, while senior citizens turn to television or newspapers.
- Location. What city, state, or even country does your audience live in? This will help you understand the cultural, social, and economic issues they face.
- Behavior. What are their needs, desires, fears, and dreams? This information will help you understand your audience’s psychological queues and better communicate with them.
- Number of children. Whether your audience has children (or not) can help you tailor your product’s unique selling proposition to the challenges they face as a parent.
- Hobbies. What do they like to do in their spare time? Having this information can help you relate to your audience on a day-to-day level.
If possible, talk to existing or potential customers. Call them, or look for opportunities to meet with them at craft fairs or virtual events. If you already have customers, ask for feedback. You can also offer a promotion or free samples in exchange for information and feedback.
Once you’ve completed your research, summarize the characteristics of your ideal customers. These will be the people with 1) the biggest need, 2) money to pay for what you sell, and 3) the need to buy in quantity or on a repeat basis. Initially, you should focus on these people.
2. Scope out the competition.
To win customers, you’ll need to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Research who they are, who they target, how they price themselves, and how they market their business. Here are some tips for scoping out your competition:
- Google words associated with your business, like “candlemakers near Springfield,” “newborn photographer,” or “wood carver in Rhode Island.” Get a feel for your local competition, and see if the market is too saturated.
- Look at competitors’ websites, slogans, ads, and images to determine who they target…and think about how your branding can be different.
- Browse Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other social media, noting what people like (or don’t like) about your competitors.
Summarize any key takeaways in the “competitor” section of your small business marketing plan, noting names, locations, your biggest competitors, and their advantages and disadvantages.
3. Develop your marketing strategy.
First, think of your business’ overarching goals. Let’s say your main goal is to gain 100 new customers in the next year. Now, create a marketing strategy around reaching this goal. How are you going to gain those 100 new customers? Networking, referrals, flyers, postcard mailings, email marketing, a website, and posting to social media are just a few examples.
Once you have a few ideas, it’s time to get specific. Ask yourself questions like:
- What networking groups does my target audience attend?
- What social media platforms are they engaged with?
- How often will I communicate with them?
Once you’ve answered these questions, turn them into goals and prioritize each of them. Then assign a budget to each – and if you have any employees, assign an “owner” who is responsible for completing each task.
A website is a great asset for any small business…especially now, when people are spending more time online. But as the world starts to reopen, don’t underestimate how important your digital presence is – starting with your ‘About Us’ page.
Whether customers are visiting your website to find updated hours, browse your online shop, or schedule an in-home appointment, a strong about page gives you an opportunity to stand out. Think of this as a tool to make a solid introduction to a new audience – you get to share your store and tell potential customers what makes you special.
Recently, we chatted with Vickie Carter, a Copy Lead at ABILLIONZ, and Mohamed Saidi, an Associate Digital Product Manager, to learn more about best practices for creating and optimizing an about page.
Vickie’s most important about page advice? “This is your opportunity to tell your story…but always remember the reader on the other end of it. Make sure that the story you’re telling is the story about who you are and what you can do for them.”
Here’s how to get started.
Think about what you want people to know.
When deciding what to say on your ‘About Us’ page, Vickie recommends thinking “about your elevator pitch. If you have a short period of time to tell somebody about who you are, what you do, and how you can solve a problem, that’s information that will be helpful to have high up on your About page.”
The best ‘About Us’ pages talk about your origin story, your company’s history, and who you are. Vickie recommends including your values, what you believe in, and what informs your business – all of this information will help prospective customers figure out if they identify or connect with you.
“If you’re a solo entrepreneur, I recommend standing up and saying, ‘It’s me!’ Show off the fact that you’re proud of your business!”
Use an ‘about us’ template.
We just talked about the basics – here are three key sections every about page should contain.
- A. Open your page with a line (or two) of introduction.
- B. Tell your story. Have you been in business for fifteen days or fifteen years? Either way, tell potential customers why you started – and what inspires you.
- C. Include information that customers need to take the next step. Think about including a contact form, your shop’s location, business hours, or a phone together.
Now, see how it all comes together for Bon Bon – this sample about us page includes all these elements to tell a compelling, informative story.
Regardless of industry, the small business world is ever-changing…especially after a year like 2020. We’ve seen resilient small business owners continue to shift their offerings and operations in the wake of COVID-19, and have some insights (and inspiration) to share from small business owners all over the world.
Whether it’s a fitness studio offering virtual personal training or a boutique offering ‘porch package’ delivery, here are some ways business owners are pivoting to find new customers, bring in revenue, and market their brands. Hopefully, these ideas will get you (and your business) off to a strong start in 2021.
- Focus on free social media marketing.
- Adjust your product offering.
- Actively look for new opportunities.
- Prioritize safety.
- Revamp (or create!) your online presence.
- Do good when you can.