The business of ‘business cards’

Business cards never appealed to me much. In my day job, I routinely interact with a variety of people from different companies. During every business meet, I exchange business cards. I pile away those cards in a nice little box tucked away in one corner of my office after said meetings. For the most part, those cards never ever come out of that box again. Why? Don’t I never need to get in touch with those people I just met? Well, I do. But for the most part I have other means of keeping in touch with them. And those other means translate to e-cards, addresses included in emails and such. The printed business cards seem to me more of a remnant of a bygone era and its niceties, and a wastage of paper and space.

So, when a friend suggested that I have some business cards printed for my author persona, I hesitated. Then she mentioned the bookmarks. I thought again. I’ll admit – I have been given those bookmarks many times in conferences and workshops. How much thought have I given them? Not much. BUT … occasionally I have been enticed and occasionally I have checked out the advertiser and I have splurged on the goods advertised. Hmm … I decided to do some research.

I looked for information on blogs, marketing articles and read up books on promotions. They all spoke favorably about these bookmarks and business cards. They are not going to be a game changer, they equivocally said, but they are definitely a good way to get the word out. One of the bloggers suggested to hand them out with the bill and tips every time you went out dining, someone else suggested handing them out to even friends and family and ask them to distribute some around.

After reading all that, I thought, why not? They are not really super expensive. And they were small enough to carry around with ease. If I printed 1000 cards and if a fourth of the people looked up the QR code, it would be some kind of exposure.

I started working on a design. The business card had to be simple and attractive. On the front, I decided to put the cover of my book on one half and my author information on the other. Among the information, I listed the name of my website, my twitter handle and my email address. I kept the background color muted, to draw attention to the book cover. The back, I thought, should be bright but simple. I only included the tagline for my series and a QR code link to my website. QR codes can be generated for free at a lot of websites, I did mine at kaywa.com. Here’s is what my business card looked after I had unleashed my creativity.

businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front

businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front

For the bookmark, things were a bit more detailed. I kept the back design just like that of the card, but the front had a little more information. Here is the completed design – the book cover of course, then a few quotes from reviews, the ISBN, the QR code directed to my website, and finally my contact information.

bookmark-2inx8in-h-front

bookmark-2inx8in-h-front

I started looking into printing companies next. Vistaprint looked good, but then the options were a bit on the pricier side. On GotPrint though, I liked the pricing. However, the shipping rates were ridiculous, to say the least. I researched some more and realized that all of these presses had super high shipping charges. I am sure there is a reason … maybe that’s material for another post here. For now, I’ll summarize – I decided to go with GotPrint.net.

The process of submission was quite easy. The business cards could be approved online, and they could be ordered the same day if the approval is done online. For the bookmarks, there was a 24 hour manual approval process. I do not quite figure the need of a manual approval for one and not the other. I did get a less than 24 hour turnaround and my order was shipped within a week. The packaging was good and the colors were nice and bright. One difference was in the back color between the business card and the bookmark, which should have been the same, given that I had matched them in PS. But, I do understand the difference in ink densities from one printer to another and sometimes colors will not match. Overall, two thumbs up.

I am happy with the creative process – it was rather easy, quite fun and did not put a dent in my budget. Now I am eagerly handing them out. Hope to report back soon on the ‘return on investment’ of the ‘business card’ project.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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