Ten tips for accountants’ business cards
Over the years I have collected thousands of business cards, many of them from accountants around the UK. Most of them are almost indistinguishable from each other, writes Mark Lee.
I suspect that some accountants underestimate the value of an effective business card. And a fair number have business cards that look much the same as they did 10 or 20 years ago.
As ever I would be the first to say that if your current business card works for you, then stick with it. Mind you I doubt that there are many accountants who get an enquiry or a referral every time they give out their business card. It’s unrealistic to expect this of course.
Before sharing my 10 tips let me just pose a key question.
What do you want people to do when you give them your business card?
To get in touch? To pass it onto someone else? To keep it to hand in case they should ever need to speak to an accountant (or a new accountant)? Or do you just want them to add your details to their marketing database and to send you junk mail? (That’s probably how you’d perceive it. They think they’re sending you marketing materials of course).
What people will do in practice depends on the circumstances that led to you giving out your card. If you play business card confetti and give them to anyone and everyone ‘just in case’ you deserve all the junk mail you get.
What you probably want is that your business card should be an effective marketing tool, a way to be remembered, to be contacted and to help you stand out from all of the other accountants that your contacts and clients meet. Maybe you simply want it to act as a signpost to your website?
Take a random batch of say, 64 business cards you have collected from other people in your profession and arrange them in an 8×8 square on your desk. Which ones stand out? I’ll bet it’s none of the plain black print on white card ones; do you want yours to stand out? If not, why not? If yes, how much? It can be counter-productive to have a card that makes people want to avoid you. But would you like them to show your card to others – because it’s different/better?
The ten tips of things to think about:
- The thickness of the card and how it looks and feels
Do you want people to look at it and hold it and think quality or cheap? Most people will assume the same applies to you and your practice. Which impression do you want to give? A professional weight requires a minimum of 335gm². Many are 400gm². You know how awful it is to get a wet fish handshake? It’s the same with flimsy business cards. Your credibility is immediately lessened.
- Plan the key elements of your card
Your name, your practice name, the fact that you are accountants, tax advisers or whatever and your contact details. Please remember to include what it is your business does. If anyone hangs onto your card you don’t want them to look at it weeks later and think “Hmm, John Smith of John Smith & Co. What does he do again?”
- Which are the most important contact details?
If you have a local practice with clients popping by the office then your address is key. If you are based at home then it’s less important. So put your phone and email address first. Your website may be key. You will often want new contacts to visit your website to check you out, to see that what you say there matches what you said when you met and that there are some decent testimonials there too.
- Distinguish the personal contact details from the main business details.
Don’t mix them up as this only serves to confuse. Your personal contact details will include your direct dial and mobile numbers as well as your email address. Some people deliberately exclude their direct dial or mobile numbers from the face of the card and add them on manually when giving the card to ’special’ contacts. What you say in such situations will be crucial.
- The font type and size
Do ensure that people over the age of 50 can read the text on your card. If it’s not easy to read, what is the point of having the information there? There is no point squeezing loads of details onto your business card if no one is going to be able to read it.
- A professional head shot
How do we expect the people to whom we give our business cards to remember us? As in – to remember who the person was who gave them the card? Are you happy to risk them forgetting you or mixing you up with someone else (in their memory)? Will your card be sufficient to enable them to recall who you were out of the hundreds of other people they have met? My card has a photo (head shot) of me on it – as I appreciate that people might not otherwise remember who Mark Lee is. I confess that it’s now two or three years out of date. I should get a new one done.
If you are going to use both sides of the card do ensure that you leave room for the recipient of your card to make some notes on it somewhere. And ensure that any lamination doesn’t preclude such a sensible follow up activity. I know I’m not the only person who likes to note the date that I met the person and where we were. If there’s room I’ll also often add a note of what we talked about or any follow up actions I have promised.
- Your card should reflect your image
Few professional advisers will be comfortable with the same style of card as would an artist or graphic designer. Some larger firms have introduced modern cards that the older members are evidently apologetic about or embarrassed to pass out when they meet people. If modern isn’t your style then don’t try to pretend it is. Not everyone wants a modern adviser. But they all want someone they can trust and who isn’t trying to be someone or something they are not.
- Does it help you stand out?
If you want to stand out from the crowd ensure that your business card contains sufficient information about what you or your firm does. Are you “just” accountants or just tax advisers? Do you want people to remember what you do or what qualification you have?
- Is it useful?
If you want people to hang onto your card, or to show it to other people, it needs to be useful. Could you, for example include some simple tax, bookkeeping or business tips? A reminder of key tax filing dates? Or something else that could be of value?
Social media links
I doubt that many accountants are including their Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media links on their business cards. But if you have accounts on the more mainstream sites it makes sense to include them on your business card.
Would any accountants with unusual business cards like to share their ideas here? Or debate any of the tips shared above?
Mark Lee is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB.co.uk and chairman of the Tax Advice Network. Visit his personal website and blog.