What’s one of the first things you do as a new business owner? Invest in a stack of business cards. Whether you get your first set for free at a place like Vistaprint, or you invest in high quality at a place like Moo, its usually the first thing that really makes you feel like you’re a professional.

But once you invest in 1000 of them, what do you do with them? Handing them out a few at a time at your local chamber won’t find you much business, and will definitely make your stack last for years. Below are some ideas for you start getting your name out there in some creative ways.

1. Leave them everywhere. The waiter at your favorite restaurant may be newly engaged. The business owner offering a free business card drawing may be in need of a business portrait. If there’s a place to put your business card, do it.

2. Visit the library. Think about your customer and the type of books they are reading. A newly engaged woman will be checking out wedding planners. An expectant mom will be checking out books on pregnancy. Use your business card as a bookmark, and place them into the books. Make sure your business cards have photos and your website address for maximum exposure.

3. Magnetize your business cards. This works especially well if you’re out on location at a shoot. Place a bunch of magnetized business cards on your car. As people watch you out in the field, they may pick one up. Also place them around your neighborhood on anything metal – community boards, lights, etc.

4. Start a referral program. Make your business card two sided. With a simple line, “referred by” your clients, friends and family can become your sales people. When any business card comes back to you with the “referred by” line filled out, give that person a discount on products or services.

5. Use them throughout the marketing process. Place a business card in letters going out to your clients. Place them in the bottom of the album box. Place them in envelopes of pictures. And if you have a great client, thank them with a box of brownies or a bouquet of flowers – with your business card attached of course.

6. Use your local coffee shop as your office. Ever meet a client at a coffee shop? Make it your office. Turn your business card into a sticker, and place one or more on your laptop cover so they show when it’s open. Always keep a stack nearby in plain view so people can take one if they “overhear” you talking to clients. You may even be able to place some on a community wall within the coffee shop.

7. Hand them out in pairs. Instead of handing out one to people you meet, hand out two. They have one to keep, and one to pass along to a friend that may also be in need of your services.

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