Business cards are a staple at every conference, trade show, and company event––and that’s not a good thing.
Regardless of how you’re connecting or who you’re connecting with, prospects can collect dozens of business cards in just a few hours. If you’re unable to make a strong impression, yours will fall right to the bottom of the pile.
If you want a prospect to remember to follow up, you need to get creative and make a business card that stands out.
Not too long ago, people started using swag as a business card alternative. They printed their name and phone number on everything from pens and keychains to beer cozies and plastic cups.
Unfortunately, even these alternatives have become a bit expected.
In order to separate yourself from the competition, you need to think even more outside the box. Here are some business card alternatives that’ll make you easier to remember and increase your chances of hearing back from prospects when the event is over:
1. Edible business cards
Everyone loves food, so why not make your business card something edible?
There are dozens of ways you can incorporate food into your business card. For example, get your contact information printed on a cookie or piece of chocolate––or even printed on a piece of meat.
Another food option you could use is pasta. Pasta Boy Peter laser-etched his information onto lasagna noodles to promote his Italian cooking classes.
However, the problem with using food as a business card alternative is that it’s made to be eaten. If your prospect doesn’t jot down your name and number before chowing down, your opportunity could be gone for good.
So, if you’re going to incorporate food into your business card, include packaging or a label they can keep, like these tea bags created by Blending Beautiful.
Not only can prospects enjoy the tea, but they can also keep the wrapper to contact you later––a win-win.
While anyone can include a fun snack with their business card, this is particularly useful for professionals in the food and beverage industry. Think of your business card as a sample of what you can provide.
2. Functional business cards
Your business card should be something your prospect can use. When they have a reason to keep your business card close, they’ll be more likely to give you a call.
A bottle opener is a functional business card that’s sure to grab some attention. Unlike a branded bottle opener keychain, a bottle opener business card is a flat piece of metal that prospects can keep in their wallet––a constant reminder to reach out.
You don’t need to get overly complex with functional business cards. While there are a lot of cool things you can do (like hand out a business card that creates a lock pick), sometimes simpler is better.
For example, Dressew added simple sewing supplies, such as thread, buttons, and safety pins, to their business cards.
These low-investment additions can come in handy and are incredibly relevant to the products and services Dressew provides––something extremely important when creating a functional business card. Otherwise, it’s just a gimmick.
Here’s another great example from hair and makeup artist, Yuka Suzuki, who includes hairpins with each business card.
Try to include a tool or item that connects with the problem that your products or services can solve. That way, when a prospect goes to use your functional business card, you’ll be top of mind.
3. USB business cards
When you’re at a convention or a trade show, you’re connecting with prospects who are meeting dozens and dozens of other vendors or providers. Not only is it challenging to stand out, but they may also struggle to remember your pitch.
You need to ensure they make it home with all the info they need.
USB business cards look like a standard business card, but they have a built-in USB flash drive you can preload with relevant data and important information.
The prospect can then continue to use the flash drive, deleting and uploading information as they need.
While a USB business card is a great way to send your prospect home with the information you want them to retain, you shouldn’t assume they’re just going to plug in. Be sure to make your in-person pitch strong and give them a reason to check out more information when they get home.
4. Puzzle business cards
Your business cards don’t need to be all work and no play. Including word searches or other puzzle games in your business cards is a great way to get prospects engaged.
A simple maze or word search can add a bit of fun to your business card without being too distracting. This mini activity can get your prospects involved enough to become familiar with your name and the services you provide without asking for a large time investment.
Notice how the contact information is still clearly provided. If you choose to include a word search or other puzzle on your business card, don’t make it too difficult for prospects to figure out how to reach you.
5. Toy business cards
If you really want to make a fun first impression with your business card, why not hand out toys? Getting away from the traditional business card setup will help you stand out from the competition.
Jens Lennartsson, for example, decided to create his own action figure to hand out in place of a traditional business card––complete with features, notes, and his own camera equipment.
While this is a great way to get noticed, it’s also a pretty big investment. If you’re constantly attending tradeshows or events, you may not have the budget to create hundreds or thousands of your own doll.
You can tone it down a notch by creating a custom Lego character with your name and contact information––which is exactly what the company’s CEO uses.
If you really want to go all out with a toy business card, you can even create a handheld card for playing simple video games like Tetris.
Toy business cards are appropriate in the right setting. While a Lego figure or a mini game system might seem cool, it should still align with your personal brand.
6. CRM – an alternative to business cards
Sometimes getting creative with your business card isn’t enough to truly stand out. If you’re at an event where you know prospects will be collecting tons of cards from other vendors, you may want to skip handing them out altogether.
However, that doesn’t mean you should let prospects go without any connection. Instead, you can use your CRM to collect their contact information and take control of the conversation.
Inputting contact information straight into your CRM makes sure that nothing gets lost. When you add a prospect’s name, number, and email, you can also leave notes to remind yourself about the details of the conversation later.
A CRM like Copper puts customer information directly into your email inbox––allowing for quick and easy communication.
Using a CRM gives your team the ability to pool information on prospects and see if you’re talking to the same person. If you’re able to compile sales notes in real time, you can learn more about prospects while they’re right in front of you and use that information to send more targeted follow-ups when you’re back in the office.
One of the biggest perks of having all this prospect information is that it gives you the ability to take initiative and reach out. Unlike with exchanging business cards, you don’t need to worry about a prospect choosing to get in touch. Add them straight into your CRM to automatically set the next conversation in motion.
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How do you choose the right business card alternative?
The traditional business card isn’t completely dead––yet.
While you’ll still want to have a more formal card with your contact information to hand out to those who ask, you should have a more creative option too. A clever business card alternative can be the difference in helping you stand out when the competition is high.
To choose the right business card alternative for your business or personal brand, take a look at the products or services you offer. Is there a way you can offer a mini-version to your prospects?
Think outside the box. Offering free samples, supplemental items, or tools within your business card can not only help prospects solve a small, immediate problem, but it can also increase familiarity and trust with your name and brand.
Don’t be afraid to mix up the business card alternatives you hand out. If you have a new idea, give it a shot. The more creative you’re able to be, the more fun you—and your prospects—will have.