20 Unique ways freelancers can use business cards to find new design clients

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Business cards are important for designers to have. They sum up what services/products you offer and how somebody can contact you on a small piece of paper. However, most designers don’t take advantage of their usefulness. They usually sit at home or in their pocket, never in the hands of somebody else.

Don’t let them go to waste by using these unique ways to distribute your business cards and gain more clients. (If you have any to add, we’d love to hear your ideas!)

1.     Leave a business card on a mirror in a bathroom

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2.     Include your business card with your tip at a restaurant

3.     Have your family and friends carry your business cards on them

4.     Put a few business cards on community bulletin boards

5.     Leave your business card in books pertaining to your business

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6.     Have your business card be your email signature

7.     Leave a few business cards on coffee shop tables

8.     Include a business card in everything you mail out

9.     Place your business card in public phone books where your industry is listed

10.  If you travel, leave a business card at the hotel before you leave

11.  Buy a creative business card holder and display them at a local business

12.  Use them as a name tag at social events

13.  Leave a business card in public newspapers

14.  Use your business card as discount or coupon for your service/product

15.  Give extra business cards to your prospective client

16.  Give a business card to your taxi driver

17.  Leave a business card in an interesting place on the bus

18.  Give a business card to each of your professors

19.  Leave a few business cards at a public library

20.  Leave them in the keyboards of computers at a computer store

What other ways do you use your business cards?

Have any of these ways worked for you? What’s your favorite option above? Let us know in the comments and discuss with fellow designers how you use your business cards.

PS. A note from the editor: Every time we publish a business card related post here at Millo, readers ask who we recommend for printing. I personally prefer OvernightPrints.com (*aff) – I’ve printed business cards and all sorts of other things through them and they are super easy to work with, the printing quality is awesome and delivery is quick. Find a printer that meets your needs, but if you have a hard time doing so, I would give these guys a try. Thanks for reading!

This post brought to you by 24 Hour Printing.

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  1. Don’t forget the virtual places where you can leave your card! Submit your business card project to sites for design news & design competitions too!

    That was what Chad Michael did, a Dallas identity and packaging designer. After submitting the project to HOW Design and FPO:Under Consideration, his business card went viral. How Design even named it “The Most Beautiful Business Card Ever” in an article.

    I interviewed Chad and wrote a follow-up story on his results, but basically the publicity brought in 2 new clients, 1 design award and 1,000+ shares on Twitter/Facebook. When looking for ideas/designers, potential clients (at least some) browse the same sites for inspiration as designers do. However, to make this work, I think, a key thing is to get your project in front of A LOT of eyeballs (=submit to big sites).

    Besides the impressive results, it’s an amazing business card! 🙂

  2. Leave business cards in dressing rooms when trying on clothes, or just pretend to try on clothes. Place business cards in pockets of the clothes you try on, like coats, jeans etc. Leave them in bathrooms on the counters and on top of toilet tanks, and use double sided tape and stick to the inside of stall doors. Everyone likes to read while they do their thing!

  3. With the exception of #12, these aren’t really “unique ways to use business cards”… they are “unique places to leave your business cards.”

    I’d love to hear if you or anyone have other actual uses for business cards – or ways to make business cards work harder for you once people find them in these unique places.

  4. I do agree that most of these area applicable at particular places and where the opportunity arises. I will definitely use some of these techniques.

  5. Creative, and easy, ideas for networking. However, leaving cards behind at random public places can also have negative results. I used to leave mine behind but got more calls from salespeople than business prospectives. The salespeople came right out and said they picked up my card at “such and such” venue and they used this as their connection to me, like having my card made us best friends or something.

  6. Very interesting posts. I have used 1 or 2 of these before. Perhaps I need to try something these.

  7. I’ve left business cards at ATM’s! In fact, anywhere where there is high traffic. I tend to give them out very generously, they are a cheap and effective form of advertising. But I must stress that good design goes a long way. A business card is NOT a billboard.

  8. You have made some good points for trying to get new clients. I have been networking since 2009, and I must disagree with several of the points you have listed. If I may:

    1. In Japan, a business card is treated as a very special gift and presented as such: front-side up, cradled in the palms of the giver. The recipient is also expected to actually read the business card, front and back sides, instead of just stuffing the card in his or her pocket. Now switching back to the U.S.: when networking or prospecting, you don’t want to put your business card out just anywhere. This gives the impression you are willing to do anything to find new business, and you never know what kind of “client” will pick a card up from a bus or bathroom mirror. Is this truly the kind of client you would want to serve? Would you rather be known as a professional networker or a business card Pez dispenser? (My thanks to Dave Sherman and Mike Leeds for teaching this difference to me.)

    2. The majority of business cards cannot be used as name tags at networking events because the printing on them is too small to be seen. At a networking event, it is very important for your name to be very visible as well as legible. It seems like this method would be very creative, but I have seen it backfire far too many times to be truly effective. Better solution: use the provided sticky name tag and clearly print your first name, then stick on above your pocket.

    3. Leaving a business card in a keyboard or at the library may earn you a phone call, indeed; it may earn you a phone call to come pick them up, possibly with a warning to not leave them again. Retailers are very particular about who they allow to leave their marketing material. Generally, this practice is reserved for businesses with whom they have developed a solid relationship. At the local library, they may have a bulletin board for such leave-behinds, but it is always more professional and good manners to ask the front desk for permission first.

    If you are looking for more new business (and most of us are), what you are looking for are contacts to lead you to those looking for your services. The best way to find many contacts is at local networking events. Look for two, maybe three people with whom you want to develop a closer relationship. Strike up a conversation by starting with “hello”. If you find commonality and you are enjoying the conversation, ask if he or she would like to meet you for coffee so you can learn more about them, and ask for their business card. Then follow up.

    Most people attend networking events to prospect, to sell what they do. The better practice: attend to establish relationships and begin building a rock-solid foundation of know-like-trust.

    1. @Lisa Raymond,
      I can tell you’ve really studied this out Lisa. While some tactics work for some people, they don’t work for others and I won’t join sides necessarily since I think both you and Nicole are excellent designers and entrepreneurs.

      I always appreciate your comments, Lisa. I sure would love it if you would write a post here at Millo. I think we could all benefit from it.

    2. @Lisa Raymond, You bring up valid points and definitely something to think about. I agree that you should carefully select places you want to leave your business as it could give off the wrong impression. Nonetheless, these tips are ideas you can use or not use. Totally up to the designer whether or not they will distribute their business cards in this way.

      I agree with Preston, I would love for you to guest post on here too. I believe you would be a great addition to Millo!

    3. @Lisa Raymond, thanks for posting this follow-up. I am ready & set to try some of these. It never hurts to try even if you don’t always get the results you want. It’s better than sitting around waiting. Great post overall!

  9. I needed to see this article. I recently found myself in the midst of 1000 business cards (hey, it was only like $10 to double up from 500 cards). I’ve done relatively well getting them out, but needless to say I have a fair share still sitting in boxes. Will definitely be trying out many of these methods! Thanks.

    1. @Dan,
      Wow! 1,000 business cards. You better get cranking on Nicole’s tips here, then, huh? 🙂 Which one do you plan to try first? Thanks for commenting.

    2. @Dan, That’s a lot of business cards for a good deal! Enjoy passing them out and I wish you the best on finding clients!

  10. Love the blog, Preston, and this is another great post. Some of these are no brainers, but I still had never thought of them before. Nicely done @nicolefdesigns!

    1. @Jordan Butler,
      Thanks for the kind words, Jordan. And for taking time to leave a comment. Nicole did a fantastic job on the post. have you had a chance to try any of these tactics?

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