General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionSolo Newsletter

Solo, Vol. 5, No2.
Winter 1998
© American Bar Association. All rights reserved.

The Business Card

BY VICKI PORTER

When I meet a new client, I ask, "Are you a baseball fan?" Irrespective of the response, I hand the client my baseball card. Instead of the plain business card, that I was issued by my prior law firms, I created a card that is fairly unique.

I wanted to create a business card that would help distinguish me and would help clients and contacts remember me. The idea for a baseball card came from my legal assistant. Here are the features that this card format afforded me:

• On the front of the card are my picture and the title Attorney at Law. A picture on a card or on letterhead is valuable. I was told that every time a contact sees your card with a photo, it is as if they just ran into you. I had a professional take the picture. It is a typical portrait, and I am dressed professionally. I would not dress as a ball player, or in a costume. After all, I am attempting to instill confidence in my potential clients.

• On the back of the card are my statistics. Because of the format, there is plenty of room for information. I believe that your business card has to tell potential clients the nature of your business. In our case, that means the areas of law that you practice. Even as general practitioners, we have areas of law that we emphasize in our practice.

The details on the card include my "Team" - which is the name of my law firm, Vicki S. Porter, P.C. along with my address, telephone number, and fax number. In a humorous way, keeping with the baseball theme, I also have listed my educational background, under the heading "College Ball;" when I was admitted to the bar, under the heading "Admitted to Attorney League;" when I started my own firm, under the heading "Signed as Free Agent;" and my professional affiliations under the heading "Major League Teams. I think that the most valuable part of the card may be the "Stats" where I list what percent of my practice is devoted to what areas of law.

Many clients are delighted to see an attorney with a sense of humor - apparently we don't have much of a reputation for humor. [Maybe we just don't appreciate the lawyer jokes that are told!] Sometimes, we get into conversations about baseball, which is fine with me since I am a former Cubs fan and an enthusiastic Rockies fan. I do notice that people take time to really read the card, rather than just putting it away.

I think a business card is a great form of advertising for us. It is a soft sell approach that allows you to tell the potential client about you and your firm. My card will attract many types of clients, though it may also turn some clients off. It may not fit the most serious types, but then, I probably don't either.

You should think about what information you want to put into your card and then consider different formats. Using the back of the card costs a little more in printing, but it does allow for more creativity. My card is also not the standard size - it is a little bit larger. This may cause a problem for those who store cards in holders, but then I figure the card is getting a little extra attention.

I also have a real estate company. We could all take lessons from the real estate business on card creation. They often use pictures, logos, color, etc. On my real estate card, I have color, a slogan, and on the back I have an amortization table - something clients are likely to hold on to.

Look at your card. What does it say about you? What does it say about your law firm? What does it say about your practice? Now, think about what you want it to say and then brainstorm on the ways to say it. Don't discount any ideas, keep an open mind, and allow yourself to be creative.

I went to my usual printer with my idea. They have designers and typesetters, who are paid by the hour, who can reduce ideas to paper. The clearer you are on the design, the less you will pay for their services. Do a prototype card, and bring it to your printer.

Putting more information on a card does require very careful proofing. You also have to be careful not to include any misrepresentations. That may mean that you have to reprint your cards more often.

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