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Business cards: A small information tool but a vital key to marketing.

A business card must contain the basic information about you and your business; the facts and details that let your client know where to find you and your product. A clear and attractive design is essential, making them easy to read and highlighting the most important points your client should know about you. But it can be much more and, certainly, if you want your cards to be part of your marketing strategy, you should think about them outside of the paper rectangle.

Presenting a business card means that you, or your associates, are meeting a potential client in person and, in that moment, you have the opportunity to make a good impression and turn a simple encounter into a business opportunity. Make a comment about what you do, or how you do it, while you hand the card to them. Ask about their needs or just give a good hand shake before giving it to them.

People tend to associate objects with the moment they receive them and so when your client looks at the card again they will remember the information you gave out with it, or your friendly attitude.

Now, if you are already investing in a set of beautifully printed and designed cards, you can make the most of itby thinking about something extra to go on it that makes a difference. In the past, an elegant business card was printed just on one face and had a name and a telephone number. It wasn't until very recently that people started using the reduced space of this bit of card in a more efficient way and now the sky is the limit. Depending on where you want to place the emphasis, you can add your own picture, a QR code, a map or any other useful piece of information. Or you can be creative and funny: add a joke, a piece of art or a trivia question.

You can also turn your business card into a useful item that people will carry around with them on purpose and that will be noticed, not only by your actual client, but also by potential ones. The most obvious example is to attach a ribbon and make it a bookmark, and it just takes a bit of imagination to think of many other uses for your card.

Have you thought of printing your information on different materials or using different textures? How about a chocolate business card in addition to a printed version. In any case, the material or shape that you give it should relate to your business.

Talk to your professional printer and designer to find out what would be the best option for you. Budget and style are the key points to take into account and the specialists can give you a wealth of ideas about how to turn your business card into the key to your success.