A critical "right of a passage" to all the entrepreneurs I work with is the printing of their business card. It makes it official. Important. But the market for exchange of information is, well changing. And I am curious:
Or are business card exchanges being replaces with smartphone bumps?
Or do all we need is a QR code on the back that links to the digital warehouse of information?
Business cards tend to matter right about the point you're seeking funding or customers via face to face meetings. Up til that point it's probably more vanity and so, doesn't much matter.
More important in the scheme of things is a proper domain and email - @aol looks lame even on the side of a plumber's van these days - it only takes moments and pennies to set up. (Ignoring the ages it'll take to find the .com you want that's not taken)
Holding pages: Well, is this a blank "Nothing to see here" page, or a branded designed holding page with an email capture and perhaps your blog? Until it's the latter, business card is unnecessary.
When it does get to be time for cards and you're meeting with decision makers, it's important to make it complement your branding and marketing.
Can you make it a little different in such a way it's more memorable or easily retrieved, rather than bland like the other 30 she got handed at that trade show ?
Last time I did some, they were essentially mini brochures for our service, using a folded piece of card (think two business cards together with the fold along the shorter edge). They essentially contained punchy reminders of our offering along with company branding and the usual contact info.
Needless to say these were quite a bit more pricey than black and white plain cards, but more memorable. Of course these had to be produced later in the timeline as we had to be sure our service or offering was accurate as printed!
They worked rather well, but I'm not sure if I'd choose the same approach if I was targeting say lawyers or accountants.
Don't forget you can look official and ready to go with exceptionally cheap printing, or even self printing, then refactor it as the image starts to matter.
A critical "[rite of passage]" to all the entrepreneurs I work with is the printing of their business card.Then the entrepreneurs you're working with a doing it wrong. Dead wrong. Business cards are still handy to have, but they are just about the least important part of starting up.
What are people putting on their start-up business card?
(The ordering of the above can vary, as fits the design.)
Are they making cards just for their new start-up?Yes. But if they're smart about it, they just use a service like Moo.com which makes creating a business card a ~2 minute affair.
Does it have taglines?Could work, if the tagline is really good.
Do you send people to websites that are holding pages (branded coming-soon pages)Only for as short a time as possible -- replace the holding page with a real site ASAP.
How important is it to look "official" and "ready-to-go"?It isn't.
Is the email address important and judged? (ie. @aol.com = lame and @myowndomain.com = act together)@myowndomain.com is not "having my act together". But it is expected; using @gmail.com does look wrong.
How do we reinforce the elevator speech with the business card leave behind?By getting the other guy's card and following up the next day.
Or are business card exchanges being replaces with smartphone bumps? Or do all we need is a QR code on the back that links to the digital warehouse of information?No, paper cards still have their place. But be ready to get the other guy's card and follow up with an email proposal / pitch / call afterward if that seems more appropriate.
I would say don't get too creative (unless you're in a creative industry). Keep it clean and professional.
Emails not belonging to your domain would be laughable in this day and age, it's so easy to get a domain.
I'd put the web site on, make sure the site says coming soon rather than the ISP holding page. If they keep hold of your card or bookmark the site, better something than nothing.
Some people add additional important information on the back of cards. I think this can work if done right. Certainly makes a boring object a little more interesting.
Whatever you do, use the standard sized business card. Do use those obnoxious mini cards from Moo.com and don't use overly large cards or cards that fold over.
Most folks have a filing system for relevant business cards. If it doesn't fit, then it probably will hit the trashcan.
Don't get too fancy with the typeface or graphics. A lot of highly organized people (e.g. investors) scan/OCR business cards into a database and dump the hardcopy.
Another good service for business cards (other than Moo.com) quick and cheap is Vista Print.
We did ours wrong first time, I stopped handing them out.
A good start-up card for me has:
What it doesn't have:
The differentiating factor for me is to leave off the things that will change so you can keep your card stock and designs. You don't want to add a card reprint to the stress of moving.
Also put the value proposition on there, people will forget what it is your company did. Especially if it's called something generic e.g. "Imperial Dynamics", or something cute/unique e.g. "sqyggim.com" (I hope those don't exist).
Other nice-to-haves to keep your card out of the trash and strengthen brand:
I've also considered the minimalist option:
Back: box for notes
Those will be re-usable, confident and scale well.
"How do we reinforce the elevator speech with the business card leave behind?"
If that is your concern then you need to practice the speech more. I think it's a bad mistake to promote business cards to the position of "you".
A business card is NOT a brochure given cold... it's exactly what it is... a way for them to store your contact info. Make that easy for them.
When you get crazy with taglines and branding all that does is say "I don't think I am worth remembering and I don't think you can remember anything I said."
Make a good impression - in person - and understand they will never review your card with dedicated thought!
I'd suggest you keep it simple, company name, your name with phone and email should be sufficient.