A New, Old Trend: The Business Card Is Back

Business cards can play a very important part in any professional’s career. A chance meeting with the CEO of a company you admire or a new connection at a young professional’s mixer, the business card once served as a reminder of your encounter. Soon, however, the business card started becoming so common and overused that they started to pile up like drink coasters at a cocktail party. In the digital wave, they were pushed aside for an exchange of numbers and information on smartphones or a connection on Facebook or LinkedIn. The business card seemed like a thing of the past.

 

Thanks to an awakening of new designs, the power of the business card has been reignited. Clever shapes, more valuable messaging, and a lesson in branding is helping the business card make it’s comeback. If you ever ditched a business card before, you’ll think twice about doing it again after seeing (and, in some cases, experiencing) these new design trends.

 

New Materials

The cardstock you use on your business card can make or break it’s effectiveness. If a card is too flimsy, the person receiving your card might think you’re a reflection of the card’s strength. And there are tons of different choices of cardstock to pick from, making any choice possibly overwhelming. To avoid cardstock confusion, some professionals made the move to different materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and even transparent materials.

 

This reinvention of the material in which a business card is made with has revolutionized the industry, especially amongst young professionals who are looking to make important connections and a lasting impression on potential employers against a strong millennial class of competition. By introducing new materials, they body’s sense of touch becomes involved in the card presenter’s first impression, giving it an even stronger, and cooler looking, message.

 

Shapeshifters

Another way to change your view of business cards is to change the way you view a business card. Try making your rectangular card read vertically instead of horizontally, or, just tip the card on it’s side to make it a portrait shape rather than landscape.

 

Where this trend really becomes interesting is when die-cuts and special shapes are introduced. New designs offer square and circular shaped business cards, as well as cards with cutouts. Some cards even go as far as being foldable for convenience and to fit more information, or to be used as a pop-up element to give excitement to your brand. If you really want to go all out, you can design your cards to have arms and legs, as seen on CompanyFolders.com.

 

Valuing Yourself

The last trend that is important to note has to do with your own self confidence. A business card should reflect who you are, as well as give a glimpse into the work you can provide. It’s the connection between your meeting and an interview. Even if you’re not with a company, you should make yourself a business card and give yourself a brand. What symbols and colors represent you? What does a powerful business card feel like to you? Take these questions into consideration before designing your card to make the best choices in representing yourself.

How To Land A Promotion

I should preface this by saying there are no shortcuts when trying to get promoted. You absolutely cannot expect to put in half the effort and yield all of the desired results. In fact, in order to stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself, often times you have to go above and beyond what is required of you within your normal day-to-day job description. So what exactly can you do to make the right impression and land that big promotion? The tips below can give you the guidance you need to find the success you’ve been hoping for.

 

Don’t say you want to be a leader; just be a leader.

Depending on your current role and the nature of your work, there are many different ways as to how to you can establish yourself as a true leader within your company. If you’re already in a managing role, going the extra mile to ensure quality of work will certainly help your chances for a promotion. Educate and reach out to those around you – be someone that other employees can go to over small issues or if they need a question answered. If you’re not in a position of management just yet, you can still apply both of these strategies as they will show that can handle the requirements of a role larger than the one you currently have.

 

Think of the team goals, and not of your own.

It can be difficult to not have a “me, me, me” mentality when thinking about your own goals. Thinking of what you want is not a bad thing, however, it can become a bad thing if it’s not applied to the greater good of the company’s overall goals. As stated in a Forbes article on the topic, “…it is impossible to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.” You have to know how your strengths fit into the larger goal of the company. When approaching the subject of a promotion, position your pitch towards how you want to help the company succeed, and not what you personally deserve as a hard worker.

 

Be willing to ask for what you want, and show the proof as to why you deserve it.

Opportunities are sometimes hard to come by. If you’re in a particularly small or large company, you might have to create your own. This means that you both have to ask for a promotion, and you have to keep records at all times of what you consider your best work. You can’t always wait for your boss to notice your talents and recognize the projects you’ve had a hand in. And by gathering your top work and examples of leadership, you’ve done your boss’ job for them. This may seem like a scary and rather bold prospect, however, even if there are no opportunities available or your company doesn’t have the resources to carve out a new position to showcase you at that time, you’ve now established yourself as someone who wants a bigger piece of the pie. When the time comes, your boss will already have your portfolio on hand and the impression that you have what it takes to be a go-getter.

6 Steps That Will Set Your Business Up For Success

Pepper Rutland relays 6 steps that will set any business up for success.Succeeding in business takes a village. The reality is, however, that there’s no clear cut formula on how to succeed within the business world. And really, how could there be? Success looks different for every business and for every entrepreneur. While there may not be a book of rules to ensure success, there are plenty of strategies any business can take to set themselves up for their ultimate end goal. Once you’ve defined what success looks like for you, take a look at these helpful foundational tips and try incorporating them into your strategy.

 

Thoroughly develop a marketing plan

If you’re a new business, part of the main focus of your launch will be attracting customers. Creating a marketing plan that is far-reaching will be key in spreading awareness of your brand. If you’re an established business, you’ll want to make sure your marketing plan stays true to your brand while attracting new customers. No matter the motivation, don’t be afraid of the tried and true practices of attending tradeshows and conferences, as is suggested by this Huffington Post article. This will help customers to discover and then connect with your brand.

 

Build an attractive online presence

Social media continues to be an important player in online marketing. If your online site isn’t optimized for mobile and tablet experiences, you could be losing out on a portion of your audience. Ensure that you are utilizing all relevant social media platforms and that they not only contain the right information but look attractive as well.

 

Hire employees that make you happy and work to make them happy

The people with whom you work will account for the people with whom you interact with for three quarters of the year. It’s important that you invest in good people that want your business to succeed. In turn, it’s also important to make those employees feel valued. By surrounding yourself with those who “make you stretch” and are unafraid to give feedback, your business will enjoy a healthy foundation for success.

 

Stay ahead of the game

Always be prepared. If you’ve employed a team to help tackle a customer service issue, make sure that you know all of the details ahead of time and have already started to brainstorm solutions. Showing up to a meeting looking for help will leave your employees feeling panicked without a jumping off point. Make sure you’ve already set up guidelines for billing, time tracking, and role assignments, even if you plan on making adjustments as the solutions are being developed.

 

Keep your team educated

Technology is ever-developing and influencing the way we do business. Technology has also brought us closer to easily accessible education than ever before. Take advantage of online courses and encourage all within your office to read topical blogs and publications to stay ahead of trends. Knowing your competition simply isn’t enough anymore; educating yourself on developments within your industry will leave you being the industry leader in the end.

 

Maintain an organized environment

Having an organized office doesn’t just mean that the pens and printer paper are in their respective storage areas. Designing a space that cultures communication and accessibility to collaboration will help you stay connected to your team. Additionally, being able to define spaces within your office’s main work areas will keep employees’ focus just as organized as the space they work in.

 

Whether you’re a new or mature business, these tools will help you to stay focused in business and set you on a defined course for success.

 

For more tips and advice from Pepper Rutland, visit the blog page

Small Business Challenges in 2017

Part of the new American dream is staying small in business while dreaming of big success. While small businesses across the country are thriving, there are some concerns that keep owners up at night. It’s not always easy being a small business in a big market, and there are some who are feeling crippled by the challenges they face on a daily and annual basis. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the top challenges small business are faced with in 2017.

 

Remote Work

Advancements in technology have been very kind to the business world, especially for remote employees. With a slew of applications that can connect businesses, employees, and clients, more and more people are looking to work remotely instead of relocating for new opportunities. While this is a great option for employee retention and attraction, small businesses will need to be equipped to handle this practice. Small businesses will also need to lay out an entirely new list of rules to ensure that this privilege is not abused.

 

Healthcare

The debate rages on with healthcare. For being such a high priority for Americans, unfortunately there are clear losers while the government decides what healthcare will look like for years to come. Small businesses happen to be one of those areas that are getting caught in the cross-fire. Rising costs and uncertainty in policy have made this a top concern for small business owners. According to an article seen on bizjournals.com in early December of 2016, 52 percent of small business owners rank the “cost of health insurance” as a critical problem.

 

Retaining Customers

Every marketplace is starting to become a crowded one, with innovative strategies helping to take businesses further. This makes it easy for small businesses to get lost in the noise. Holding on to key customers and ensuring that they remain a profitable one continues to be a challenge for small businesses. While there are plenty of challenges in attracting new customers, it is important to focus on maintaining your customer base and ensuring they feel like a priority.

 

Stamina

Being a small business owner takes a lot of work. Not only are there challenges to face within the business (see list above), but there are many challenges that face the owner themselves. Being understaffed can cause owners to double the amount of work they should be doing, which can lead to long hours and one tired owner. Maintaining the energy to take on each day with success in mind can take a toll if areas within the business are not being supported as they should be. Hiring an assistant might set a business back a pretty penny but will help owners keep their cool and help them do what they do best: lead.

Best Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

Pepper Rutland's photo of facebook and scrabble piecesBefore the 1990s, companies relied mostly on print and broadcast media, such as television and radio, to get the word out about their products, services and/or progress. Prior to those inventions, word of mouth and various guerilla tactics were the focus. Nevertheless, with the advent and subsequent ubiquity of the Internet, businesses saw the importance of getting online. Those who weren’t early adopters, relying still on the aforementioned tools to reach customers and supporters alike, learned quickly that “the net” could not be ignored. Today, more than half of small business have their own website. However, as trends continue to evolve beyond a mere home for your business, the need for web presence via social media has become just as, if not more, imperative to the success of business owners, especially smaller businesses. Yet, while most have at least taken steps to create a social profile, not many use it to their full advantage.

Nearly two years ago LinkedIn reported that 81% of small to medium business had some form of social media. Why the remaining 19% hasn’t caught up is a concern in itself, but that’s not the primary issue at hand. Of those which do have a profile, approximately 95%, virtually all, of them use it for marketing reasons alone. While this makes sense given the wide reach of such platforms at little to no cost, simply using the space to announce deals, sales or new products is akin to handing out flyers on the corner. You may reach a lot of people, but it doesn’t guarantee connection nor interest. Therefore, creating a strategy for engaging your social media audience is key. Here are tips for doing so.

1. Create Quality Content

Consumers are exposed to about 5,000 ads per day, in comparison to 2,000 in the same time, just 40 years ago. The oversaturation and overpopulation of advertisements have led many to either tune them out or block them altogether. That said, using your business profile to do just that creates an automatic division between yourself and the client/customer you’re trying to reach. Instead, create and publish content that is informative and relevant to your product or service. As a result, your business comes across as an authority on related subjects, and appears to onlookers as a brand that is interested in its customers, not just selling to them.

2. Interact With Followers

Use social media to be social. Just as it would be rude to only talk about oneself and never respond to any questions, comments or inquires, in-person, the same applies online. Perhaps there is no dedicated social media person on staff, thus making it difficult to respond to every single interaction; however, merely acknowledging the message goes a long way. Such can be done with a simple like or share on many social platforms. And when it makes sense to do so, follow back.

3. Use Analytics Tools

The larger and more popular websites provide very specific and helpful data, including how many people viewed a post as well as liked and/ or shared it. Not only do these details provide insight about the value of your content to your audience, they can provide key information about how many people you’re actually reaching and optimal times for doing so.

4. Be Channel Specific

As the old saying goes, there’s a time and place for everything. Each business owner or dedicated social media specialist would do well to note best practices of each platform. For example, content on Twitter must be shorter, to the point, and use of hashtags bolster the length of your reach. On Facebook, content can be a little longer, more in depth and media heavy. Hashtags are not as effective, though available, and click through content, such as a link to an external website or presentation, are normal. Using a cookie-cutter approach to all platforms only diminish the effectiveness of your message and goals online.

As we enter this new year, there is an even greater incentive to try new things. With over 2 billion users on social media, an incredible opportunity exists for all businesses to not only acquire new customers but to retain them. Regardless of your product or service, your audience is online. Your competition will certainly be doing all they can to reach them. Beat them to the punch.