What's on your business card?

by Nancy E. Hassel, American Pet Professionals   I know what some of you reading this may be thinking, "uh I know this already."  Do you?  Do you really? 🙂 The pet industry is a fantastic place to be - and as more and more new solopreneurs and companies jump into to our $72+ billion a year industry, I have definitely noticed some basics that many are leaving out of their marketing materials.   While attending recent local pet events and major industry trade-shows over the summer - I had the pleasure to meet wonderful new people in our industry.  Many of which it was their very first tradeshow, pet show, and/or brand new to business in general.   We exchanged business cards, talked for a bit at the event, and try to get to know each other in a short amount of time that you have while at a trade show or consumer pet expo. Looking through a pile of business cards on my desk, there are many with absolutely no name of the person who owns or runs the business.  So I look on their website, still no name listed anywhere, not even in the 'about' section.  Then I look on their facebook page, nothing listed.  One card, in particular, has an email address, Instagram/Facebook information, website - but no name of who to contact.  Also no phone number on the card.   So now, I am stuck with the task of "Dear XYZ business...sorry there was no name on your card."  Which just is awkward and unprofessional!  And when there is no phone number I can't even call.   Another few cards have most of the information, but no email address, nor is it listed on their website.  The phone number is there, so that is good - I can easily follow up with a call.  But in this day and age, it is odd to see a business card with no email address, and I see it more often than you would think.   What you don't put on your business card could affect your business negatively.   If you are trying to get new costumers to your business, to contact you or to engage with you after meeting you - why make it so difficult for people to reach out to you?  Most people are not going to go to three different websites to follow up with you - they will move onto the business that is easily accessible. You are definitely going to lose opportunities by leaving out vital contact information.   What you have on your business card, should be simple branding and marketing 101 if you will - but not everyone knows what to put on their cards.  And some people are nervous about putting out too much information. I understand that.   Here is a simple breakdown for you of what you should have on your business cards and simple branding tips across the board.   What you should have on your business cards:   Business Name Tagline if you have one Your Name Your Title Mailing address - ok so many people don't put this because it may be their home address, I get it. If you are a hyper-local business serving areas near you - you can just put that: "Serving the ____, _____ & _____ areas" Or you can just put your town and state where you live. If your business is online, you don't necessarily need to put your location, but personally, I think it is much better if you do. Email Address Website @ handle for Twitter/Instagram (it should be the same!) Phone Number So it could look something like this:   Joe's Pet Supplies We have your tail covered!           LOGO Joe Smith                                           Joe@JoesPetSupplies.com President/Owner                             www.JoesPetSupplies.com 115 Main Street                                @JoesPetSupplies Anytown, IL 123456                        (123) 456-7891   I personally don't think you need all of your social media addresses on your business card. You want people to go to your website, and there you can have the clickable social media icons on where to find you on your social media channels.  On my business card, I just have the logos (small and in the same size) of the social media channels I am on - and my bio on each social media channel is the same.  Obviously, you can do any design for your business cards, especially if you are branding and what your materials to look like your brand, logo, colors, etc.  But the above is just an example of what you should have on there.   Hard to pronounce names: If your name is hard to pronounce by someone looking at it - in our glorious multicultural society, not everyone is named Tom, Dick or Sally.  So get creative with it, be proud of your given name.  You can put your first name and 'pronounced like' or 'sounds like' and show your name sounded out like you see in the dictionary for any word, like this: Nancy (Nan-cee).   Your address: Some new business owners do not want to put their business address, because many times it may be their personal home address.  Understood.  Investing in a PO Box at the post office is a simple way to alleviate that.  For about $130 a year - you can have peace of mind that your home address is not listed, but businesses can reach out to you that way.   What do you do? Ok, this may seem like a no-brainer, if you do dog training, it should say that on your card, or potentially in your business name.  So if someone has your card, and remembers meeting you, they know what you do.  But often the name of the business does NOT give away what the business is, company does, the product it provides or the services they cover.  You should make it clear on the card what you do, provide, the product you make, etc.   Professional Email address: In my opinion, having a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or any other generic email address on your business card looks less professional than using your domain name.  I have heard every reason why, 'I just started I don't have an email address for my business yet.' (Understandable); 'I use my Gmail address for everything.'  (Um...) 'I don't know how to set up and email address for my web domain name' (call your hosting provider, they will walk you through it - it is easier than you think).  'I don't have a website yet'...ok - might be time to get one.   Now not to be a stickler, we ALL start out somewhere using a personal email address, it is completely understandable, and acceptable.  But after a while, having a business email is just going to make you look much more professional - and you can let all your contacts know your new business email address.  I have done this three times over the last 20 years in the pet industry, people will all eventually contact you at your new address.   Just think how much better you will feel at your next event, that your business email is on there.  It's a proud moment for someone who is just starting out.  Embrace it!   Phone Number: The same goes for your phone number.  Using your cell phone for your business - be sure your voicemail reflects that.  "Hi you have reached Tom Miller at ABC Dog Training, please leave your name and number and we will get back to you shortly."  Simple. Neat and clean.   Website: If you are brand new in the industry, and maybe have a domain name, but no website yet, I would still recommend having your website on your business card. Set a landing page for your website, saying 'Coming Soon' or debuting in 20XX.  This way, you don't have to order an entire set of new business cards with your new website address on them, it's already there.   Bonus branding tip: A simple branding tip for you, if you have multiple social media accounts for your business, like most of us do, they should all reflect the same message, picture, image or logo.  Your bio for your Twitter account should be the same for your Instagram account.  And since Facebook and other social media sites give you more room, your information should reflect the same about info as your website.   You want people that may want to do business with you to see a clear, simple explanation of what you do - across all of your platforms.   For example, my Twitter account is @AmericanPetPros, so is my Instagram - the bio is exactly the same for both, as well as on my Pinterest page (that I don't use as much).  My 'about' is the same on my Linkedin profile, Facebook page as well.   If your Twitter account handle, the @...., doesn't' reflect your business, don't panic you can simply change it. I did about a year ago, it was easy and I just tweeted out a few times that my @ handle had changed. You don't lose followers or anything like that.   You can just check your account settings on how to change it, or do a search on google or youtube if you are unsure for a tutorial.    You are your brand, you are your business.   Some people choose to use only their business name for Twitter & Instagram, which makes sense for a lot of companies.  But because I want my name associated with my business social media, my @AmericanPetPros is my handle, but when you click on either Twitter or Instagram - you will see my name.  I want people to easily know who they are talking to if they send me a tweet refer to me on insta, etc.  The personal connection is a great way to make new business contacts.  This, of course, depends on your business, your choice to do this and so forth.   Last but not least always make sure you have a good amount of business cards, brochures with you wherever you go.  You never know who you may meet, even if it is just out with friends or in the last place you thought you would meet a potential new client or customer. ]]>

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