Do You Need Your Address on Your Business Cards?

Is it essential to put your physical, "snail mail" address on a business card? That topic is one I've debated with a few readers lately. Some of these very experienced networkers insist that a physical address is necessary on a business card, usually because it makes it easier to mail a brochure or follow up letter after meeting someone.

That's true, but beside the point, in my opinion. Here's what I think.

With so little space available on a standard-sized card, every graphic or line of text you include must be carefully chosen. There is simply no room for every bit of information that a business card recipient MIGHT want, so you have to be very selective.

So what are the reasons for including a physical address on a business card?

The first is simple -- so that people know where your office or store is located.

The second is simple, too -- so that people can contact you via mail.

I certainly believe in giving people multiple ways to contact you, but still, those two reasons do not apply (or apply in varying degrees) to different businesses.

In the first case, a physical address is simply not very important to many companies and individuals who do most of their business online. For them, putting an address on an "About Us" page is usually a better use of resources than putting it on a business card.

And for those of us who work from home, revealing our personal address to anyone who might wind up with our business card is a security issue and a business hassle as well. We simply don't want strangers strolling up to our doors when we're home alone (or not home at all), or when we're tending to family business rather than money-making business.

(If you do work from home, some people suggest putting the address of your mailbox rental company on your business card. What if someone tries to drive to your business, only to wind up at MailBoxesEtc. instead, which is the address on your card? It happened to me once, a long time ago, and my prospect was plenty irritated. I don't recommend this solution.)

So the physical location of your business is simply private or irrelevant for many business owners. Good reasons to exclude it from your business card.

But what about reason two, including an address so that people can easily send you something in the mail?

Remember, the job of a business card is to market your business. If a street address helps you do that, put it on your card; if it doesn't, you certainly don't have to include it just for another's convenience.

That's frustrating, I know, to networkers who want to send cards or catalogs or newspaper clippings to business contacts, but I feel it's only courteous to use the contact methods that people indicate they prefer.

It certainly doesn't mean you can't GET someone's physical address, if you need it, simply that you need to do so another way. Ask them for it in person. Ask for it via a phone call or an email message. Asking for an address directly also has an added benefit -- it gives you the chance to pinpoint the prospect's interests and needs, and also gives you a chance to get better acquainted.

It boils down to what I've said all along.

Imagine your typical/ideal prospect or customer, what they need to know most urgently, and what you want them to do with your business card. Do most of them need your physical address? Would you lose business if it's not included on your card? Would it be more important if they saw your guarantee, or the brand names you carry, or your many years of experience, rather than your address?

Let the answers to those questions be your guide.

I'm sure you'll have comments on this article, and I welcome them!

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