Quick—what’s 3.5 x 2 inches, made of paper and a key part of your business?

If you said your business card, you are correct!

With the proliferation of Internet and other technologies, you may wonder if the paper business card is going out of style. “Never!” says health, fitness and technology expert Biray Alsac, MS, owner of FITTmaxx Institute in Chandler, Arizona. “Business cards may evolve in the form or shape that they take, but the idea of them will never be passé.”

So how can you design and print a card that best reflects you and your business in today’s world? Consider these suggestions from fitness business experts.

What to Include

“When it comes to business cards, many people mistakenly believe that more is better,” says Mary Bratcher, MA DipLC, life coach specializing in small-business development, creator of the Essential Business Tools for Fitness Professionals DVD and co-owner of The BioMechanics in San Diego. “They try to use their business cards as brochures rather than introduction pieces or sources of contact information. Remember what the purpose of a business card is: to provide the recipient with information—in an easily discernible format—on how he can contact you. Don’t use it as your one and only marketing material where people can learn all there is to know about you and your company.”

So what should you include on your card? Bratcher lists the vital basics as your name, title, company name/logo, business
address, telephone number, e-mail address and website address. “Once these are on the card, you can then determine how much room you have left for elements such as additional wording (like slogans) or designs,” she says. “As much as you may be tempted to jazz up your business card, bear in mind that a business card should reflect the manner in which you would like to be perceived by others as a peer or competent professional.”

Savvy fitness pros are utilizing both sides of the card these days. “Consider employing the back side for your mission statement, areas of expertise, etc.,” advises Kay L. Cross, MEd, ACC, CSCS, president of Cross Coaching & Wellness in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bratcher suggests the back of the card be used sparingly for additional graphics, company information, or spaces to write appointment times/personal
notes. For example, Nancy Jerominski, owner of NLJ Fitness & Wellness Consulting in SeaTac, Washington, includes a preprinted note on the back of the card offering a free session. This strategy has worked well for her. “If a potential client is remotely interested, I have a 99% closing rate,” says this IDEA Elite Personal Trainer and C.H.E.K
holistic lifestyle coach.

Using Graphics

Color is popular right now, with some people sporting cards using four-color graphics or photos.

“Generally speaking, it is a good idea to include graphics—especially your logo—on your business card,” says Bratcher. “Graphics can help personalize the look and feel of the card or set the overall tone for your business image. Don’t, however, overuse graphics or select too many colors for your card. Why? Partially because it makes the card look too busy and detracts from the vital information, but also because it will cost more to have the cards printed if you have many graphics or lots of different colors.”

While some fitness professionals are putting photos of themselves or their facilities on the cards, people are mixed on the question of whether this works or not.

Andrea Metcalf, owner of MBC Fitness and Well Centered Weight Loss Center in Westmont, Illinois, and creator and host of FITtodayTV.com, speaks positively of using photos. She includes a photo of herself on her card. “Business cards with pictures in our business are a good practice,” she says. “I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they love my card.”

While Cross has never incorporated her photo on her cards, she knows numerous businesspeople who do. “The photo really helps me remember the person,” she says.

Bratcher has a different point of view on the photo question. “Unless you are a fitness model creating business cards specifically for the modeling industry, I would stay away from including your photo on your card,” she says. “Your website is a more appropriate place to have an image of yourself, as there is more room there to expand on your personal particulars and background.”

Designing the Card

Bratcher recommends choosing font styles, colors and sizes that are easy to read on the card. She also advises against making cards in odd shapes or sizes, fun as they may be. “If the cards can’t fit in a wallet or traditional card holder, you will be less likely to carry them around, and others will be less likely to retain them or pass them on to others.”

Cross says that one way she’s made her card memorable, yet still professional, is by designing it in a vertical versus horizontal format, which helps make it stand out. She has always used a professional graphic designer, and has been pleased with her cards. Want to use a designer? “Then give the designer specifics on what you want cards to convey to the consumer, and see what wonderful ideas [the artist] devises,” she says. “A designer should give you three to six logo and layout options.”

If you have your sights set on a particular designer or company, Bratcher advises asking the following questions before committing:

1. Can you use your own logo, and/or can he create one for you?

2. How many initial designs will he create for you?

3. Can you see samples of her work to evaluate card stock and print quality?

4. Do you retain copies of the files she creates for you (ideally, the answer should be yes); if not, can you have
access to them at all times online, to order replacement cards as needed?

5. What exactly is included in the designer’s fee?

6. How many revisions will you be entitled to, and what is the cost per revision?

7. How long will it take the designer to design, print and deliver your cards?

Printing the Card

If you don’t choose to hire a graphic designer, know that there are many good, inexpensive options for creating quality business cards online yourself. “Vista
print.com has a wide variety of business card templates that can be customized to meet your needs,” says Bratcher. “Just don’t skimp and go for the ‘free’ business cards, because they will have vista
print.com marketing information printed on the back of them. If you don’t feel comfortable designing the card yourself, you can also pay a small fee to have designers at vistaprint.com do it for you.”

Alternatively, you can still get your card printed at a local print shop or an office supply store. One place you don’t want to print them, according to Bratcher, is on your home printer. “You want to use high-quality card stock and printing materials that will accurately reflect the image you are trying to project to recipients,” she says.

Kristen Horler, chief executive officer and founder of Baby Boot Camp LLC, in Sarasota, Florida, recommends this strategy for selecting the paper for your card. “Look at and feel all the business cards in your wallet,” she says. “Sample various business card samples at an office supply store to determine the look and feel that presents the image you want to send to your potential customers. Don’t be afraid to call someone whose business card you like, to ask her where she ordered her cards.”

Networking: It’s in the Cards

No matter how fancy or how plain your business cards are, make sure you use them. You need to carry business cards with you at all times. You never know when a networking opportunity will present itself. Never leave home without them!