Before you fall in love with your business card — is it readable by an OCR scanner? High-drama design can often result in low impact.
Before you commit to a mad, passionate affair with your business card’s design, ask yourself: Is this readable by an OCR scanner?
OCR (optical character recognition) software now comes bundled with most home-office scanners. It’s no longer something for the sales person who goes to trade shows and comes back with 500 business cards. It’s for just about anyone who’s tired of the piles of business cards cluttering their desks.
I just popped a dozen business cards into my ScanSnap S1500M and was astonished at the results. They scanned in seconds, and in Cardiris software half of the cards transferred most of their data into the correct fields for a vCard that could be exported with one click into my Contacts application.
The other half of the cards yielded up no data at all. Zip. Nada. They might as well have been blank.
Because they had white type on a dark (or highly patterned) “artsy” background. (Note: It’s not just the Cardiris software; people report this with other common business-card scanning applications.)
The Dark Side of Design
So, do you want to be the graphic designer, building contractor, or editor whose email address and phone number are now in my database? Or do you want to be the one whose unreadable card I just dropped into my recycle bin?
In the world of business communications, high drama can easily result in low impact.
This interview with Joe Hage provides insight into the discipline that underlies highly effective marketing.
There are many tricks and tips for marketing success, but most of us quickly get frustrated when what we try doesn’t yield results or doesn’t yield results fast enough. In fact, those tricks often work for great marketers because these folks are strategic in their approach, tireless in their experimentation, quick to bounce back from failure, and relentlessly honest with themselves and with their clients.
For the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with a leader in the marketing field, Joe Hage of Medical Marcom. I’ve seen Joe work with the CEOs of established international companies and the founders of small businesses and business organizations. I’ve seen Joe harness the power of the ever-changing field of social media (including communities and crowd sourcing) and get down in the trenches to drive traditional marcom projects like rebranding, conferences, and collateral.
If you’re in marketing and looking to improve your game, check out this interview with Joe on MedGadget (he’s currently focusing his work on the medical device industry, where marketing is a very high-stakes game).
If you’re outside the field and think marketing is a lot of fluff, this interview will give you an insight into the discipline and thought that underlies highly effective marketing. (You’ll also see some highly effective marketing at work in Joe’s answers to the interview questions. But of course.)
Rand Fishkin’s public postings about the process of seeking investment capital for his company SEOMoz may represent a trend toward transparency in business communications.
I’ve been doing communications, in-house and as a consultant, for more years than I like to admit.
With nearly every client, and certainly with every in-house gig, I remember the meetings in which we’d sit with senior leaders and map out a plan to distract attention from what was really going on in the company.
Occasionally one of us on the communications team would suggest: “Why don’t we just tell people some of what’s going on?”
“We can’t say that!” was always the answer. There would be a general round of patronizing chuckles, gasps of terror, or snorts of scorn (the reaction depended on the organization) before everyone got back to the business of obfuscation.
I don’t think that every company or organization is ready for transparency about its plans, nor are certain issues (such as personnel changes or litigation) appropriate to discuss publicly. But I do think transparency is a trend, and, increasingly, something business partners and consumers will come to expect.