Business cards and online marketing are constantly viewed as opposites fighting for dominance. Yet, not only do they coexist; digital media is making it easier to create and use business cards. If you don’t already keep a stack of cards handy, here’s why you should.

  1. Business cards provide a wide range of contact information all in one place. That way, customers can choose their preferred method to research or contact your business.
  2. No matter how much you promote your business, you can’t force people to care. Consumers decide whether they want to listen and learn more. Business cards let people discover solutions on their own and come to you when they’re ready.
  3. One-on-one connections are great, but it’s impossible to personalize every interaction. You don’t know when and where customers will make first contact with your business. Yet, you can boost your odds by making business cards available to people looking for your services.
  4. Business cards can be multifunctional. Adding more value to the design increases brand recognition and helps you stand out from competitors.

While you don’t want to be careless about where to put business cards, don’t forget they’re meant to reach a broad audience. Hand out cards far and wide to attract people who might not find you through other channels.

If you plan to ramp up your marketing efforts, check out these smart places to leave business cards.

1. Past clients

People who are impressed with your business are the perfect ambassadors to give out cards. Although you can’t control word-of-mouth marketing, you can increase its effectiveness.

Keep track of which clients repeatedly send referrals your way. Then, give these loyal customers extra business cards to pass along to friends and family. You can use referral incentives to get the ball rolling.

2. Malls and food courts

Sometimes, it’s a challenge to find out who to target beyond your major customer segments. Malls draw diverse crowds, which can help you find secondary markets for your business.

As a bonus, malls are filled with areas where people sit, stroll, and hang out. People are more likely to stop and read your card during idle moments when they aren’t busy shopping.

With this in mind, try to look for spots where people frequently rest or gather. Seating areas, food court tables, and condiment counters are great places to leave business cards. Many malls also have indoor children’s play areas where lots of parents are sitting nearby. If you can find willing vendors, try leaving cards on store or kiosk counters for anyone passing by.

3. Relevant books and magazines

So, you’ve checked out all the local networking and business events. What next? Books and magazines are a smart tool to connect with a highly focused audience.

Think about what matters to your customers and publications they might read. Do some research to find popular titles related to your industry.

Prepared to get stealthy? Visit local libraries and bookstores, and slip your business card into books and magazines that are relevant to your audience. With this approach, you have a strong chance of reaching people who can benefit from your products.

4. Affiliate businesses

If you aren’t already building partnerships with other businesses, what are you waiting for? Fellow small business owners have similar goals, making them invested in your success.

Find non-competing partners who share your customer base, and swap cards to give one another referrals.

5. Public bulletin boards

Find organizations in your area that let anyone post on public bulletin boards. Check out these common places where you can display a business card:

  • Grocery stores
  • Community centers
  • Libraries
  • College campuses
  • Churches
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Gyms and recreational centers
  • Laundromats

At first glance, bulletin boards may seem too crowded to be worth your while. But keep in mind, people expect to dig through information to find something that interests them.

6. Banks and ATMs

Banks consistently have high traffic and draw people from a wide range of backgrounds. Try asking a manager if you can put a small stack of cards on lobby tables and check desks. People regularly stand at check desks to fill out forms, creating an opportune moment to look at your business details. You can also leave a few by the ATM, where they’re still visible after hours.

7. Waiting rooms

People in waiting rooms are basically a captive audience. Not to mention, few people can resist flipping through a magazine or brochure during a long wait.

Use this idle time to your advantage, and put business cards on lobby tables and inside magazines. Don’t overlook these high-traffic businesses with lounges:

  • Doctors’ and vets’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Restaurants
  • Airports and hotels
  • Train and bus stations
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Bookstore lounges
  • Retirement homes
  • Auto repair shops
  • Employment agencies
  • Local government buildings

8. Municipal buildings

In general, government buildings are useful places to promote yourself for free. They’re widely accessible and attract local professionals and people who are active in the community.

Stick to locations your target customers are likely to visit, such as city hall, visitors centers, county clerks, tax offices, and courthouses.

9. Schools and colleges

Depending on your customer base, education facilities provide multiple places to market your business. If educators are in your target market, you can use faculty rooms, offices, and boards to spread your message.

If you’re more interested in reaching the general public, take your pick of food courts, lounges, libraries, dorm lobbies, vending areas, and study rooms on college campuses.

You’ll find people everywhere you turn, but it takes creativity to reach the right audience. Try asking a friend or relative with campus access to bring your business cards to areas where visitors are restricted.

10. Industry-specific places to leave business cards

Not all ideas work for everyone because your target market is different. To get the most from your investment, tailor your strategy to your audience. Let’s say you work in a furniture, HVAC, or home improvement industry. Real estate offices are a perfect fit to reach property owners in the market for your services.

On the other hand, daycares and entertainment-oriented businesses make sense if you sell family and children’s products. Hair and nail salons or spas are ideal for connecting with a broad female audience.

Understand your customers, so you can get better at anticipating where to find more leads. At first, you should look at business card marketing as a numbers game. But as you bring in new business, pay attention to which marketing channels work the best.

Keep putting business cards in locations that produce great results for a more effective long-term strategy.

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