Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Are Business Cards Dead

If you thought business cards were dead in this digital age, think again. Business cards are arguably as relevant today as they were 30 or 50 years ago. More than 10 billion business cards are printed and distributed each year in the United States— to contacts at trade shows, to customers and to people one meets in passing. Making your card stand out in this sea of business cards can be a challenge. Consider these five ways to make your business card rise to the top.

1. Make it different

Doing something a little unusual can make your business card noticeable in a pile of white cards with black print. This could mean using a different colored paper stock. For example, if you sell baby items, you might print your cards on blue and pink card stock instead of white. You can also experiment with different shapes and different graphics. For example, a book store owner might have a card shaped like a bookmark. Having a different-looking business card is especially important for those in creative fields, such as advertising and graphic design. Ordering your business cards online gives myriad options to create a unique and different look.

2. Use heavier paper

A heavier card gives the impression of being more expensive and more solid, both traits you want your clients to associate with your business. While the printing might cost a little more, the credibility you'll bring to your brand is worth the investment.

3. Insert QR codes

Adding a quick response (QR) code to your business card can be intriguing and is a good way to add additional information to your card. However, keep it simple. Too much information is not only visually distracting, but it usually fails to scan well. Also, make sure the "value-added" information from the QR code is up to date and interesting. Sending contacts to old information is a definite turn-off. Consider making your QR code send scanners to a coupon, so they're encouraged to engage with your brand.

4. Ask an open question

Inspiring curiosity is another good way to make your business card stand out. A travel company in Hungary asks on their business card for readers to call or email if they need a restaurant recommendation in Budapest. It's both different and intriguing, and a card that's likely to be saved.

5. Add your picture

How is someone who collects more than 50 business cards at a convention going to remember your card belongs to you? Add your picture to your card so the person you gave it to will instantly associate it with the conversation you had with them. You could even have that QR code send scanners to a video of you thanking them for considering you for their business.
Your business cards don't have to be boring. With a little effort and a little planning, your cards can rise to the top of the pile. What advice do you have for making business cards stand out? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Grow Your Business’ Twitter Following

Author, Jordan Graves

Since its launch in 2007, Twitter has become a driving social media force for businesses and individuals alike.  With 500 million users on Twitter sending 400 million tweets per day, this is a conversation you don’t want your small business to miss out on.  

So how should you take advantage of this important (not to mention free!) outlet?  To get the most out of your business’s Twitter account, you need to put in the effort to maximize your opportunities.  Here are five useful tips on how to increase your Twitter following so you can engage your customers, potential customers, and others in your industry.  

1.  Fill out your Twitter bio

First things first:  put your business’s information in your Twitter bio.  Users look at these blurbs to learn more about your company and to decide whether or not to follow you.  Make the bio short and sweet.  Add something that makes you stand out and grabs your audience’s attention.  Don’t be misleading or too wordy, both of which will turn potential followers away.

2.  Link to your account

Get more traffic to your Twitter page by linking your handle to your professional site, personal site and anywhere else you have a social media presence.  This way, you will benefit from the sites you have already established by sending those viewers to Twitter.  You can also add your Twitter handle to your work email signature and have your employees and co-workers follow suit.  

Don’t forget to think outside of the online sphere.  You can add your Twitter handle to business cards and other promotional materials, including flyers and billboards.  The more people that have the opportunity to see your Twitter account, the more followers you will obtain.  

3.  Quality over quantity

When seeking new followers, it is important to remember that it’s not all about numbers.  The quality of the connections you are making for your business is much more important than the quantity.  Spammy Twitter followers don’t add any value to your network because they aren’t participating in conversations that are relevant to you.  What’s the point of having followers who don’t read your tweets or engage in conversation?  Having a couple hundred followers who actually interact with your brand is much more valuable than having a couple thousand that are unreceptive to your messaging strategy.

The idea of quality over quantity applies to content as well.  If tweeting less is what it takes to produce more meaningful tweets, then by all means - tweet less.  Rich and engaging content that encourages retweets and replies will strengthen your Twitter network more than frequent tweeting.  

4.  Encourage retweets and replies

The more retweets and replies you can generate, the more users that will see your Twitter.  If you get a retweet from a business that follows you, then all 300 of their business followers are exposed to your messaging and have the opportunity to follow you.

Pictures, links and graphs are all more likely to get retweeted than longer text tweets.  Correct hashtag usage also encourages retweets, as well as new followers.  By #effectivelyhashtagging topics, users who are interested in that particular subject can search for it and find your relevant tweets.  Tweeting with popular trending hashtags also helps you engage with the Twitter community and become more visible.  

5.  Follow those relevant to your business and interests

Engage with people who have similar themes and followers to you.  It’s okay to mix it up a little and follow Twitter accounts that relate to your personal interests, as long as they are appropriate.  If you’re a runner, follow Twitter users that tweet about running. This will create a more well-rounded Twitter experience.  Everything you tweet isn’t going to be specific to your business, so your followers don’t have to be either.  

When you follow more diverse people, you also open yourself up to more diverse followers.  While this is not the case every time, following someone on Twitter you have the chance to gain a new follower, as well.  But don’t be discouraged if a user does not follow you back.  There are plenty of other Twitter user fish in the sea.    

Now that you have the tools to increase your Twitter following, get started today and see what an optimized Twitter account can do for your business!

About the Author:  Jordan Graves is a Marketing Manager for Shoeboxed.com, the fastest way to turn a pile of paper receipts into digital data for effortless expense reporting and bookkeeping.