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The science of business cards – it’s more than just color choice

Business cards are more than just your name and address, every color, font, and cardstock choice impact what impression you leave with a potential client.

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We’ve shared with you inspiration for your business card, insisted that your card doesn’t have to look like a standard card with a lame logo, your face and your phone number. We’ve even told you that there are people like me who keep all business cards anyone ever hands me. There are endless styles ranging from engraved to three dimensional cards and there are many different printers and print qualities.

But did you know what different cultures have different ways of handing over and receiving business cards? Did you know that how many cards you hand out and the choice of color impact the success of your cards? It’s true!

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Joe Manausa

    March 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Wow Lani, and I haven’t been very good at using business cards. I’ve handed out less than 10 this year. I will take your advice to heart. I was at a real estate conference last week and really missed an great opportunity hand out a bunch of cards.

  2. Joe Manausa

    March 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Lani, a great follow-up for this post would be one with pictured examples of “great” business cards :).

  3. Krista Lombardi

    March 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Great info, I’ve got lots of great ideas for my biz cards:)

  4. MH for Movoto

    March 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Oooh, really enjoyed this. Let’s take a poll of a few snazzy new designs?

  5. An Bui

    March 15, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Lani, thanks for sharing that infographic! I just finished reading a post about a mobile app that pulls data from business cards. Business cards can lead to meetings and meetings can lead to remembering details about the person you’re about to meet with, right?

    Noteleaf, a client, pulls information from your Google Calendar and LinkedIn accounts and sends you comprehensive notifications of what you need to do, where you need to do it and who you need to do it with. (https://techcrunch.com/2011/03/03/noteleaf/)

    So the information from your infographic paired with Noteleaf is a good toolset for building relationships 🙂

    An

    An

  6. Cliff Stevenson

    March 15, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Very cool. I recently began scanning into my iPhone all the business cards I have received. It was easy, and I’m pretty happy with the ‘rolodex’ being so organized and mobile. What I did notice though, was that several business cards were difficult to handle in the scanning. Usually this was due to what I would call “excessive creativity” (odd fonts, images in behind the information, etc), and some of the problems were due to poor print quality. I wonder if the ease of use in these scanning apps is going to have an effect on people’s design decisions going forward. I wasn’t thinking about my card being scanned when I designed it, but I’ll be thinking about it for the future.

  7. Lily Chen

    November 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    A caveat on idea #2 in the graphic. If you put a thin border around the card, due to the cutting equipment, many print shops cannot cut the cards precisely to make the border exactly uniform, so either you make the border thick enough to allow for the slight variations, or have border on just one or two sides, not all around. In fact many printers advise against having such border around the card design. Just be sure you discuss this with your designer to avoid disappointment.

  8. Pingback: Business Card Design Tips: Top Ideas for Designers in 2016

  9. Pingback: How to choose the perfect colors for your business card – The Digital Agenda

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Business Marketing

Modern best practices for your online design portfolio

(BUSINESS) Do you have an online design portfolio? Does it hold up to modern standards or is it stuck in 1997?

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Whether you’re looking for your next gig or full time opportunity, your online portfolio is your showcase, your chance to shine. But so frequently, we see creatives that either don’t have an online portfolio, or an awful (or incomplete) portfolio. It’s a challenge, because you often sign NDAs and are not at liberty to share all of your work, it’s a challenge.

Let’s talk about the modern best practices for your online portfolio.

First, before you even open a browser tab, put pen to paper and commit to your goals and consider what you are looking to express. Look around at what others are doing so you know what to compete with. Are you just going to slap up some pics of your work, or are you going to tell the story about the process and why you made certain choices? The language you use will differ if you’re looking for a job or for a client.

Second, where are you pointing people to? If you have some thumbnails on your Geocities site from 1997, you’ve already lost. Owning your own site is the best method, and the most common option used in the industry is WordPress (here are 50 themes to consider), and ideally you own the URL for your name that points to any site hosting your portfolio.

If WordPress feels too advanced for you, Squarespace is the most popular drag and drop option in the industry, and some even use Wix (which was recently improved). Or, you could consider a design portfolio platform like Big Black Bag or Behance.

Next, consider what you’ll display. You’re in a real catch-22, because you want to express experience, diversity, and quality, but if some of your work doesn’t apply to what you want to be hired for, it could actually work against you. Think of this as an art show at a museum – they would never show every piece of your work, rather they would curate specific pieces to tell a story.

And if your portfolio is light on applicable work, create your own concepts and redesigns (so long as you label it as such). Hate Google’s logo redesign or maybe the search interface? Mock up your own, show a before and after, then disclose it as a concept piece you’ve imagined. You could even have a section for concepts that is separated from client work.

Your display should match your work – if you design mobile websites but your portfolio isn’t responsive, you’ve screwed yourself. If you’re an animator, your portfolio shouldn’t be a bunch of websites you redesigned. If you’re a graphic designer, your portfolio shouldn’t showcase a bunch of emailers you created copy for. People are judging you within the first three seconds, so your offering better match the story you’re trying to tell about yourself. If you’re not a deconstructionist designer, your website design better not be deconstructionist. Get it?

Always be updating your portfolio, even if you’re not looking for clients or employment. It’s harder to go back in time to recreate a portfolio than updating as you go. But remember – you can’t just slap up 800 images of a project, again, you’re curating. Select only the best images and add them as you go to save endless time. Try doing this at least monthly (plus, it’s a great way to tell search engines that your site is fresh, thereby improving your ranking).

If much of your work is physical or print, take the time to take high quality photos of these works, potentially even mocking them up on physical products (you can use a site like Smart Mockups as a shortcut).

Next, you want to make sure that your online portfolio serves client or employers’ needs. Is your About page sparse, or does it talk about how you connect with your profession? Does your site tell people who you are, where you are, who you’ve worked for, what kind of work you’re looking for, how you charge, and how they can contact you? If you can’t answer each question in under three seconds, you’re losing opportunities. Design your portfolio for them, not for you. Do you have a logo and tagline? Testimonials? Can they find you elsewhere online (do you have social media buttons in the header or footer)? Everything we’ve mentioned in this paragraph is the equivalent of dozens of “Hire Me” buttons, so don’t take this part lightly.

Make sure that your portfolio is error free. Test every single page to make sure it works, then before going live to the world and sharing the URL, have at least three people (ideally that are writers or editors) review all of the copy for accuracy. You’re not a professional writer, so trust their input if they suggest the copy is off.

If you have the time and capacity, blogging is the cherry on top. Not only does it help your search engine rankings (don’t stress too much about SEO, though), it creates new opportunities for your thoughts to be shared, expanding your reach. You’re smart, you know not to blog about conspiracy theories or politics, blog about your work – why did you choose this profession, what enriches you, why do you make certain design choices, what do you think of large brand designs, etc.

Get the word out. Be sure to add the URL to your design portfolio on all of your social media profiles, even LinkedIn. Audit your online profiles annually to make sure they point to the place that will generate business opportunities for you.

TL;DR – get a WordPress site, curate your best work, make it easy to contact you.

And if your brain needs some samples of modern design, start clicking:

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Business Marketing

Aori helps you pack a punch with AdWords

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Aori is the newest tool designed to help anyone using AdWords to kick more butt.

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Search ad campaign managers constantly wrestle with the best way to organize their keywords into campaigns. Most of these decisions strive to balance the time needed to manage the campaign with efficiency of campaign expenditures.

Take the SKAGs strategy, for example. The SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Group) system is setup to trigger a unique ad for every single keyword by placing each keyword in its own group.

There’s lots of literature touting the benefits of the SKAG system. Generally, the hyper-specific match between ads and keywords improves click-through rates.

This leads to higher quality scores, which leads to lower costs for click, which leads to lower costs per conversion. The tradeoff with this system is the setup. You could be looking at hundreds of keyword groups to set up and maintain, and that’s a lot of work for a small business or startup.

This is where Aori comes in.

Their system helps to automate the process of setting up a SKAG system for your AdWords campaigns.

According to the website, the tool’s primary function is to automate keyword generation. Users enter a set of “root keywords” and common keyword extensions, and Aori will automatically generate all possible combinations of those keywords for your campaigns.

Additionally, through Aori, users can create ad templates using a “dynamic keyword insertion tool,” to enable you to utilize the strongest ad copy across multiple phrases.

In what is the least clear value point of the whole pitch, Aori also uses what they call a “unique bid-optimization algorithm.”

There is almost no detail to be found on how the algorithm works. If the tool handles all bid management for you, this could be a handy tool for PPC novices who are less familiar with the process and lack the time to learn it.

Aori appears to run cheaper than the others we know of, but that may be due to the level of automation available. For example, Aori requires the user to feed it keyword inputs, both root and extension words.

It’s also important to understand where a SKAG system can and can’t work. It is likely a better system for smaller campaigns where ad testing wouldn’t yield statistically meaningful results.

Because every keyword group targets one phrase, you can’t readily say that improvements in ad copy will translate to other campaigns.

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Business Marketing

Have maternity leave gaps in your resume? Let Pregnancy Pause help

(MARKETING NEWS) The Pregnancy Pause is an organization aimed at helping moms re-enter the workforce from maternity leave sans the explanation for the employment gap.

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Mamas getting hosed

Our country’s totally sad policies around maternity leave – companies are only required to give pregnant women and new moms 12 weeks of unpaid time off – mean that many working women opt to quit their jobs in order to birth and raise infants.

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When a mom is ready to reenter the workplace, she often has an awkward, unexplained gap in her résumé that make it harder to get hired.

Honesty works best

While moms have traditionally been advised not to mention their maternity leave unless asked directly, studies show that moms are more likely to be hired if they actually explain what they’ve been up to.

A branding agency, Mother New York, has come up with a creative way to help moms clarify the résumé gap, and to “make it clear that maternity leave – whether 12 weeks or 12 years – isn’t a vacation.”

The company is encouraging LinkedIn users to list their job title as “Mom” and their company as The Pregnancy Pause.

Hiring managers who click on the link are taken to a website that explains the unfair disadvantages faced by working moms.

Nothing to be ashamed of

According to Corinna Falusi, CCO of Mother New York, “New mothers in the U.S. often feel forced to quit their jobs due to a lack of adequate maternity leave policies, which leaves them penalized for the subsequent gap in their résumé.

We wanted to give working mothers everywhere a simple tool for this problem, and make it easy for them to own maternity leave as the full-time job it truly is.”

Besides a website, The Pregnancy Pause also has a LinkedIn page and a phone line. When a hiring manager calls the phone line, they’ll hear a voicemail explaining that during the candidate’s résumé gap, “she spent innumerable hours raising a child, which has surely offered her invaluable experience as a prospective employee.”

Listing The Pregnancy Pause as your employer can be a great way to explain a résumé gap on sites like LinkedIn, where the lack of face-to-face contact with a hiring manager can often leave many unanswered questions.

Full time mom

Women in the workplace shouldn’t be penalized for having children. Our federal policies and company cultures must come to support working moms.

Until they do, The Pregnancy Pause at least offers a way to explain maternity leave on your résumé.

#PregnancyPause

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