7 Rules of an Effective Business Card Business Card Rules for Every Small Business Owner

Having an effective business card is not as simple as listing your name and contact information on a small 3.5" x 2" card. There are thousands of ways you can format your business card, many options when it comes to the information you include, and even more ways you can make your business card stand out.

If you fail in any of these areas, though, you could lose prospects, get your card tossed before making a connection, and hurt your ability to network effectively.

Follow these seven business card rules to make sure your business card supports your brand and performs well for your business.

1. Include Only the Most Important Information

It's tempting to reduce the font size and include every last bit of information you have on your business card. I have seen cards that include the staples (name, title, business name, phone, email, website), plus every social network profile, a sales pitch, a comprehensive list of services and a bio. If you have this much information on your card, you are most certainly losing the recipient's attention due to information overload.

You want to include enough to pique the interest of the recipient and make it memorable, without making his or her head spin. Skip the kitchen sink, and keep your business card simple by being selective about the information you include.

2. Make Sure It Is Legible

Funky fonts are fun, but there are a time and a place for them, and your business card usually isn't the right place. Make sure the fonts you use on your business card aren't too small, too fancy, or distorted in some way, making your card difficult to read.

Do you want to add some spice to your card? Let your logo be the design element that adds interest and keep the text simple and straightforward.

3. Avoid Full Coverage

With affordable business card printing, it's widespread to have full-color text and designs on both sides of your business card. But, avoid the temptation to completely cover every white space on your card, unless necessary.

It's impossible for your recipient to make notes or jot down a memory trigger when there is no room to write, when there is a dark color covering the entire surface, or when a high-gloss finish is applied to both sides. For those who regularly use business cards for note-taking, your black, glossy card may not cut them.

4. Get them Professionally Printed

While you could print your business cards at home on your inkjet printer with perforated business card paper, please consider professional printing instead. Unless you have commercial printing capabilities, DIY business cards might not make the best first impression.

You may be able to save a moderate amount of money and update your information easily if you print them yourself, but the impact of handing over a homemade business card isn't the same as cards that are printed professionally.

5. Design for Your Audience

If you have multiple businesses, you may consider using the front of your business card for one venture and the back for the other. In some cases, when the two companies complement each other or are loosely connected, this may work.

However, if you have two opposing identities -- let's say you're a graphic designer by day and a tow truck driver at night -- you should create a business card for each business to avoid confusion and speak directly and appropriately to each distinct audience.

6. Use Special Finishing Options Carefully

There are so many ways to make your business card stand out when it comes to the design. I have seen some very effective business cards that use attention-getting finishing features such rounded corners or other die cuts, holes punched through, unusual sizes, embossing, foil accents, and folds that can turn a simple card into a mini-brochure.

Any of these options may work for your business card, but make sure you are selecting a finish that is relevant to your brand, not just something cool to try.

7. Consider a Call to Action

While I recommend keeping your business card streamlined and straightforward, that doesn't mean you can't use some valuable real estate for a special offer or other calls to action. Craft a short message that offers a discount directs the recipient to your website, or provides a tip that will be relevant and useful to the reader.

If you hit the mark with a specific call to action or other helpful information, you can make your card instantly memorable and generate more leads in the process.

 

Suha KeskintepeComment
6 Advanced Ways to Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

Google is the most popular website on the Internet. So, whether you have an offline or online business, it’s crucial that your company be found at the top of the search results. If it isn’t, you’ll be losing a lot of potential revenue.

If you don’t know how to rank your website at the top of search engines, I recommend that you read the Beginner’s Guide to SEO before reading this blog post. But if you are familiar with SEO, here are seven advance strategies to increase your rankings.

1: DON’T BE AFRAID TO SLOW DOWN

Over the past year, I have been noticing a trend: if you build links too quickly to your website, it won’t rank well. But if you only create a handful of rich anchor text links each month, your rankings will start shooting up.

So, my strategy with building links, even for the most competitive terms, is to only make five to ten rich anchor text links. And out of those links, two to four may contain the anchor text I am trying to rank for, while the others will include variations of the term.

In addition to that, I usually slow down or stop building links for my significant terms after five or six months as I noticed that my rankings start to go up naturally over time if I don’t continue to keep building rich anchor text links.

The key with link building is to be patient as it looks unnatural if your link count grows at a rapid pace. It doesn’t matter if your competitors have a hundred or a million links coming to their websites; you need to build slowly.

2: GET SOCIAL

There are two main aspects of social media. The first is your profiles on these social sites, and the second is how often you can get your website mentioned on the web.

Search engines like Google are starting to take into account votes from social sites. Currently, in Google’s Webmaster Tools you can see how many people voted +1 for your website and how it’s affecting your traffic.

So, if you want to do well on the social web you need to:

Build up your profiles – create compelling profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. The three articles I linked to should be able to teach you how to build compelling social accounts.

Promote your site – whether it’s blog content, a product you are selling or service you offer, add social media buttons to your website. Encourage your users to click on them as it will affect your search engine traffic in the long run.

3: DIVERSIFY YOUR LINKS

There are a lot of different types of links you can get such as blog roll links, homepage links, links from blog posts, directory links, educational links, footer links, etc. SEOs tend to build only one, instead of each, of these types of connections.

If you want to rank high, you can’t just focus on one type of link building method such as directory links. Instead, you need to get links to your site from blogs, directories, and sometimes from the homepages of other websites. Just make sure whatever relationships you are building are also relevant as those links tend to have the most significant impact.

For example, with Quick Sprout, I have a variety of sites linking to me. Here is an example of a news site link, a sidebar link from a popular blog, a link within a blog post, and a link from an educational website, all linking to my site. The diversification of relationships coming into the site is what partly accounts for over 50% of my monthly traffic from Google.

CONTENT ISN’T KING, UNLESS IT’S GOOD CONTENT

I’ve tried the approach of adding hundreds of pages of unique content in hopes that it would increase the number of pages on my blog. One of the ways I did this was through a questions and answers community.

The overall idea is good as it has worked for many companies like Yahoo. But the mistake I made was that I didn’t moderate the community very well, and I didn’t keep the content engaging.

Had I added great content through the questions and answers community, my traffic would have gone up. At first, I did see it go up, but once I started slacking on the content, it started going down. (The fault here doesn’t lay with the questions and answers community. It rests with me as I it was my responsibility to make it work.)

Adding more content to your website is an excellent idea if you want more search engine love. But you have to add useful content, instead of just flooding your site with mediocre information, so that those pages get more natural links.

5: BUY LINKS ETHICALLY

I know what you are going to say. Buying links are frowned upon. And, yes, you are right – you don’t want to hit up a website and ask it if it will sell you a link.

But what you can do is spend money on content and then give that content away for free. The best example of this is infographics as you can create good ones for $500 and email favorite bloggers to see if they want exclusive rights to them as long as they link back.

Popular blogs like Guy Kawasaki and Mashable seem to be willing to post infographics created by other companies. If you happen to get a link from one of these sites, you’ll be getting a very authoritative link.

When using this strategy, you have to understand that you can’t just create crap content and expect others to pick it up. If you create useful information and email favorite bloggers, there is an excellent chance that you can get a link from a blog with high PageRank for $500.

6: GOOGLE CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY

My favorite way to build links is to leverage Google. For example, if I am looking to build relationships with my Las Vegas website, I would search for websites that talk about “Las Vegas” and have a links page.

Here is the search command I would use: in the title:” las vegas” in URL:” links.”

I would then go through the listings above and send a custom email to each of the site owners to see if they would be interested in linking to my website.

I know this sounds like a tedious task, but I can get roughly 10-15% of the websites I email to link back to my website. Also, I can typically hire a college student for ten dollars an hour and have him, or she sends out at least one hundred emails in eight hours.

That means I pay about $6.67 -$10.00 a link, which is a great deal.

CONCLUSION

SEO isn’t rocket science! You can rank your business for any term as long as you are willing to get creative. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. More importantly, be patient as it can take months, if not years before you start ranking for competitive terms.

Also, make sure you try to rank high up on page 1 as ranking on page 2 for popular terms won’t drive you much traffic. In other words, you’d have a better rank in the top three spots on page 1, or you need to start going after different terms.

Suha KeskintepeComment
FOUR Magic Words That Increase Sales

FOUR SECRET WEAPONS IN THE MARKETING COPYWRITER'S ARSENAL CAN HAVE IMMENSE POWER. 

Recent studies in behavioral economics have defined four words, psychology and neuroeconomics to appeal to consumers primal instinct. These words powerfully engage consumers at a subconscious level and increase retailers chances of making a sale. 

Inject these four words into your marketing copy and e-commerce product descriptions to increase conversions: 

1. You

It's the most powerful word in the English language. For most marketers, It's more influential than words like 'money' and 'sex.' Your customers want to feel like you're talking to them directly and the word 'you' does that better than any other word.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we're all a bit egocentric. When promotional copy (or product descriptions/ads) focus directly on us, a powerful subconscious connection is created. 

Here's an example of an online retailer who uses the word 'you' in their product descriptions to increase their conversion rate:

“The Epson ES1000 Ultra Portable Tabletop Projection Screen is the ultimate screen for mobile professionals. Whether you're walking across town, commuting by car or flying to your next destination, this lightweight, the compact screen is the perfect traveling partner for on-the-go presentations. When you're ready to present, the Epson ES1000 Ultra Portable Tabletop Projection Screen's unique one-piece design allows you to set up quickly and easily on any tabletop in less than 30 seconds. It conveniently accommodates up to a 50" (diagonal) image. When it's time to shut down, the Epson ES1000 Ultra Portable Tabletop Projection Screen stores quickly and easily in just seconds.” (Source, TigerDirect)

A form of the word 'you' appears four times in this clever marketing copy. Notice that the narrative is focused on how this portable projector makes the shopper's life easier. It's solving a problem that most prospects have.

Take a look at all of your e-commerce product descriptions and make sure you're addressing your prospects directly. Use words like "you," "your," and all similar forms to make a connection with your customers and potentially increase sales. 

2. New

When you see the word 'new', you subconsciously think improved, exciting, and I want. According to several behavioral psychology studies, new products, novel solutions, and a sense of adventure draw shoppers to products with the 'new' label.

Take a look at how Apple describes the iPhone 5's design. It's a new design, with modern technology, for their new iPhone. Seems excessive when pointed out but it works. 

Dr. Bianca Wittmann is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies how copywriters use language to influence shoppers. She uses the candy industry's obsession with creating 'new' products as an example:

"I might have my own favorite choice of a chocolate bar, but if I see a different bar repackaged, advertising its ‘new, improved flavor,’ my search for unique experiences may encourage me to move away from my usual choice." 

Consumers have a positive association with everything new - we continually want a more original car, new clothes, and the latest technology. As an online merchant, you should play to this as much as possible. 

If you sell clothes online, for example, create a section to showcase all your latest products. Make sure your product descriptions, press releases, and blog posts use the word 'new' and focus on new products as well.  

3.  Free

The word 'free' isn't just a price - it's a powerful emotional trigger and a source of irrational excitement. You know that feeling you get at a buffet, where you're full, but you keep eating because it's free? Or perhaps all those free pens you look at the trade show that you won't use, but you took them anyways? Powerful stuff that word 'free' is. 

Nobody knows the power of using the word 'free' like Amazon. In 1999, Amazon began offering free shipping on orders of $99 or more. Since then they have been experimenting with and perfecting their marketing strategy (and copywriting) to take advantage of our desire for 'free best.' I know I'm guilty of buying another book (cost $10+) to save $3.95 on shipping. 

Gregory Ciotti, the founder of Sparring Mind, argues that the word 'free' exposes humanity's general aversion to loss. In economics, loss aversion describes the idea that people will frequently choose not to lose something (money) rather than to gain something, even something of relatively more significant value. 

To make this point, Ciotti refers to research from a famous behavioral economics professor, Dan Ariely. In a series of experiments, Ariely found that consumers would pick a free item over a very low-cost thing, even when that inexpensive item represented a higher overall value. 

When Ariely offered buyers a choice between a Lindt 'Lindor Truffle' for 15 cents — about half of its usual cost — and a Hershey Kiss for 1 penny, 73% chose the Lindt because of its apparent value. But when the price of both items was lowered by just one cent to 14 cents and free respectively, 69% of shoppers took the free Hershey Kiss. 

So how do e-commerce merchants use this research, along with Amazon's "free shipping" strategy to increase sales? As an example, a retailer in the Northwestern US offers free shipping on some orders. The retailer first offered free shipping for orders of $50 or more. On average shoppers spent a little more than $50 on the site. 

In November 2012, the policy changed, so that free shipping required a minimum $75 purchase. The retailer's average order rose to nearly $80. People spent more to get something 'free' - so consider offering free shipping after a certain purchase threshold on your e-commerce store.

Furthermore, using the word free in your email campaigns can significantly increase the open rate. Christopher Penn, the co-host of the “Marketing Over Coffee” podcast has pointed out that in-spite that the word 'free' can set off some spam filters, it's often worth using in email subject lines because of how dramatically it boosts open rates. Shoppers like the idea of getting something for nothing - and can you blame them?

4. Guaranteed

The sleazy used car salesman stereotype is often associated with a 'guarantee' - but the word 'guarantee' is a key component of most good e-commerce marketing copy.

'Guaranteed' appeals to consumers emotional triggers like security and trust. It's a safety net - a promise made by a retailer to a consumer that they will be satisfied with their purchase. 

Studies in behavioral economics show that humans are intrinsically afraid of loss. When you purchase something, there is the chance of disliking the item for one reason or another. Guaranteeing their purchase diminishes the possibility of failure. If they don't like the item, they can return it. 

E-commerce merchants should inject their copy with 'guarantee,' 'money-back guarantee,' and variations like 'or your money back' on their product page. You should also develop a return policy, and you must hold up your end of the guarantee.

Suha KeskintepeComment
Seven Things Every Company Website Needs

1. Clear Communication and Objectives

The internet is all about communication, so it is of crucial importance that you present your message in a clear and straight-forward manner. Clear communications will help people quickly understand who you are and what you’re selling.

If I, as a random visitor, have to spend more than 10 seconds jumping and clicking around your website to find out who you are and what you do, I’m probably going to leave and never come back.

By keeping your message simple and easy to understand, you are showing your customers that you are professional and trustworthy. Of course, if your message is jumbled and includes errors, you are indicating that you don’t care about details, so customers will think you won’t worry about more information within your business either.

Good communications build your reputation, your credibility and your relationship with customers, and all of these make your business. Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many companies.

2. Intuitive Site Navigation

People aren’t patient as they used to be, so it’s pretty essential that you make it easy for them to find what they need on your website if you want them to do business with you.

For example, I love eating at this one restaurant. It has great food. Everything on the menu is terrific. Unfortunately, I’m not always free to swing by for a quick launch. Sometimes I have to order it in. Thinking of it as a pretty standard task, a couple of days ago I set down and tried to order their food online.

What was expected to be a relaxed and joyous function, turned out to be a complete nightmare? Their website is so awful that it gave me headaches. The menu is out of date and confusing, plus it’s tough to navigate. It took me a few minutes to find it, and when I did, I couldn’t figure out if I placed an order or not. Naturally, this drove me nuts, so I took my business elsewhere, to a place where I can see what I’m doing.

So, what happened here? Due to poor UX, content, and design, this restaurant lost its loyal customer. Although I still eat there sometimes, when I have the time to come around their place for lunch, but I never order their food online. This is bad for them because, as you know, I have to eat every day.

When developing your navigation strategy, you should consider a call to action. What is it that you want people to do on your site? Place an order? Download a file? Leave their information? Put yourself in their shoes and carefully examine if a specific action is logical enough for them.

3. Contact Information

Making it easy for people to get in touch with you should always be on top of your priority list.

If you own a business which makes all of its profits by stimulating people to visit your website and order all sorts of goods and service from it, then publishing your email address, business address and telephone number are mandatory. The more options you give your potential customers to come in direct contact with you, the better. Failing to do so makes your site look like a scam operation that many people will not dare to trust with their money. Hence, you’ll find yourself in a pickle.

Apart from coming into contact with potential customers, leaving your contact information public on your website could be of great use to you in all sorts of different scenarios. Let’s say that a particular investor digs what you do and decides to partner up with you or even buy your business. How will he come into direct contact with you if you don’t leave your info on your website? He’ll comment on one of your blog posts? I don’t think so. What if a specific superstar designer, or content manager, or developer, or whatever is that you seek, finds your website, falls in love with what you do and decides to send you his resume? Where’s he or she going to submit it?

Your contact info should never be something hard to find. Think about this long and hard before you choose a place where you want to display it on your site.

4. Customer Testimonials

I know a lot of people who cannot imagine shopping for specific items or services before checking on the web first what people are saying about them. Digital technology has allowed us to browse through a lot of options, read about the products and services, and make smarter choices.

That is why it’s of great importance that you offer your potential buyers some “social proof” that your offer is excellent. Although there are a lot of companies out there that don’t want to admit this, a lot of sales these days are influenced by custom reviews. Why? – Well, because they’re candid. There are written in plain language by regular people, who don’t collect a salary from the owners of certain products and services they’re reviewing. They’re just satisfied or unsatisfied customers who are willing to share their two cents with anyone interested in conducting business with a particular party. 

Why is this section so crucial for your website? – Custom reviews and testimonials build trust in you, especially if you’re a new business. People love hearing stories from other people. It helps them put things into perspective. If you have 5-6 great customers testimonials published on your website, your potential customers will start seeing you as a trustworthy source.

5. Good SEO

So, what does this exactly mean? Good SEO is a pretty vague term. It means that you need to do all you can to make it easy for people to stumble upon your site. A good SEO strategy is and should be to improve the rankings of a website. To accomplish this goal, your SEO strategy might need to include highly complicated and time-consuming activities, or you could get away with just performing the SEO basics, it would highly depend on your target keywords, the industry and the level of competition it faces.

So, an essential SEO plan includes activities such as creating a good website with at least 10 high quality articles published on your blog (for best results, keep items over 1200 words and embedded with rich media),  using your website to build your social graph (Google+, Facebook,  Twitter, mailing list), marketing QUALITY content on that very same social graph, such as infographics, image quotes, media rich articles, videos are the best, doing some link building by commenting on various blogs, answering questions and connecting with other blog owners and writing guest posts.  

As your site builds authority, more people will want to work with you, link to you, and it will be easy to get featured on more prominent blogs.  This is a full proof recipe. Sure it takes time to build your authority, connect with influencers from your industry and drive traffic to your website, but hey, nothing’s secure in life. Be consistent, show a lot of hustle, and I promise you, you’ll see your business dominate on the Web.

6. Content That Speaks to Your Targeted Audience

Today, for most businesses who operate online, content marketing is on top of the priority list. The only problem is, most companies who invest in this field don’t know how to make it work for them.

Why? – Because they don’t quite understand it. They think that content marketing is something that can be automated. They feel that this is something that can be copied and recycled over and over again, like every other form of marketing, without investing a single brain cell into its development.

The fact of the matter is that content marketing has become the most efficient and effective way for businesses, big or small, to increase their online presence and position themselves as experts in their field. It has given everyone a fair chance to demonstrate their knowledge to the world and gain customers and all sorts of different brand ambassadors solely by what they create and shares on the web.

What makes content marketing so attractive is its power to form strong and loving relationships between businesses and their customers. When such a link is established, the likelihood of the customer buying your company’s products and recommending your business to his or her family members, friends, and colleagues increases substantially because these people now trust your brand, which means that they’ll do everything in their power to represent it in the best way possible.

7. Hosting

As I already wrote on this blog, anyone who has ever built anything, be it a house, a LEGO castle or a website will almost automatically tell you: “Before doing anything, focus on building a solid foundation for your project!”

Foundation to projects is what feet are to people – If you had no feet, your legs would be useless. No matter how bulky they are, you wouldn’t be able to stand or walk anywhere.

All structural problems come from a bad foundation. Cracks on the walls, swinging doors, uneven floor, jammed windows – these are all foundation related issues.

When you sit and think about it, our website is our home. We spend most of our day on it, we invest a lot of our time, money and energy in making it nice and tidy for people who come to visit it, and we’re always trying to make it a reflection of who we are, what we’re all about and how we want people to see us.

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on design, or how great your UI is, if your website isn’t secure or hosted on a proper server, you’re waiting for it to go under!

When it comes to investing in your website, next to great content, excellent hosting service should be on the very top of your list. Without it, your website cannot a performer on the desired level.

Suha KeskintepeComment
Ten Commandments of the Logo Design

Legendary logo designers are known for their great logo works, but they also have offered crucial advice to fellow professionals. Tips from such stalwarts of graphic designs are worth noting if you are a budding designer who dreams of making a big name.  So, in this article, you have advice from legendary logo design experts so that you create an excellent logo design that stands out.

 

1. Importance of design brief

David Airey is a well-known logo designer from Ireland. His advice on design brief is worth following. He says that the designers must demand design brief. For business owners one of the reasons why they should provide the summary is that ‘’ A solid logo design brief ensures that no time is wasted and that you receive targeted logo options as soon as possible. The logo brief also helps me focus my attention on the areas that best serve your business, making you much happier with the final result.’’

2. Research

Jon Sndruck, a Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex based freelance graphic designer says that while creating the Alliance Business Insurance logo, he research the client’s business extensively. On researching, he found that the company assembled the product parts for their clients. He says, ‘’Because the company’s name is Alliance, and the capital A is a triangle, and the triangle is THE most visually stable shape, and stability is a key attribute in the insurance industry, I decided to focus on icons that formed the letter A.’’

3. Sketches

A famous designer from Latvia, Dains Graveris says that inspirational sketching is crucial to logo designing. He says ‘’Sketching isn’t time-consuming and is an excellent way to put your ideas from your head right on the paper. After that, it’s always easier to design it on the computer. Sketching helps to evolve your imagination – once you understand it, you always will start from just white paper.’’

4. Design in a single color 

Patrick Winfield, an author of 10e20blog, says in his article The Logo Design Process, from Concept to Competition, that designers should first create the logo in black and white. He says,’’ I like to work first in black and white to ensure that the logo will look good in its simplest form. Color is very subjective and emotional. This can distract from the overall design- say if you saw your logo in all red that color may be the first thing that you respond to and not the composition of the design elements. I will not even consider submitting color suggestions to a client for review until they have signed off on a final black and white logo.’’

5. Design in vector format

Another freelance graphic designer, Chris Snooper advises to ‘’always design your logos in a vector application such as Adobe Illustrator, rather than a raster application such as Photoshop, the reason being the logo must be scalable without losing quality and needs to appear crisp when printed on anything from business cards to 20ft vinyl banners.’’

6. Take your best concept 

When taking your sketches and design ideas to the client, graphic designer Angela Ferraro-Fanning shares her experience in these words – ‘’ It is my policy when working on a client’s logo that I present them with three concepts. I try to create three entirely different looks while utilizing the three different types of logo formats: just type, image only, and a combination of bot In choosing the logo designs for Kick to consider, I first have to decide which ones I truly feel are my best work. It is important that I present clients with pieces that I’d feel happy about showing in my portfolio.

7. Show context

Veerle Pieters, a graphic designer from Belgium, advises designers that they should show the context of a logo concept when then take an idea to the clients.

8. Keep design simple

Jeff Fisher, a renowned logo designer, emphasizes on the need to keep a logo design simple. He says —‘’ While in college in the mid-70’s an instructor introduced me to the K.I.S.S. Principle of design; which translates to Keep It Simple, Stupid. It does convey an essential design consideration. Simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client. Remember, the basis of the hugely effective international branding for the world’s largest shoe manufacturer is a very simple graphic swoosh.’’

9. Choose colors wisely

Well-known graphic designer Ryan Nicholas has talked a lot about his design process when choosing colors. In one of his articles, he says – ‘’We believe color is an essential communicator. It contributes a lot to the tone and intended message of a brand.’’

10. Re-brand carefully

David Turner, another legendary logo designer, advises that when re-designing your logo, it is essential to research the history of the original design. Without going into the backgrounds of the unique design, the logo will have no purpose for business when it is aiming at projecting a new brand image.se tips from renowned logo designers emphasize critical aspects of logo designing that you must keep in mind.

Suha KeskintepeComment