How to Keep your Business Cards Out of the Trash

When you’re given a business card at a craft fair, what do you do with it?


Over 80% of people toss the business cards they’ve been handed.


And if that business card was found in a swag bag, it’s even more likely to end up in the trash.


*I don’t suggest contributing business cards to craft show swag bags, it tends to be a waste of money. Check out these 10 tips to contribute an item that is profitable and more likely to give you a return on investment (i.e. bring more people to your table who buy so your sales help cover costs of the items you put in the swag bags)



Business cards do still have a purpose.


And you can get more people to hang onto them if they’re used as a piece of marketing material and not just to communicate contact information.


Most business cards include:

  • business name
  • email address
  • website URL
  • maybe social media accounts


That information is a little boring and can be found through a quick Google search (*if they know the name of your business…here’s how to get craft show shoppers to remember your business).


Find out how to make that card a little more purposeful here: What to put on a Craft Business Card

The tips will also help keep your business card out of the trash.


But let’s look at business cards from a different perspective…


We’re connected to technology and so we no longer reach for the Yellow Pages when we need a business’s phone number; we go online.


You have a website, social media accounts, and perhaps an Etsy shop.


These will all help increase your visibility online when someone types your business name into Google’s search bar.


But the purpose of handing out business cards is to stay at the top of our (potential) customers’ minds and keep our contact info at their fingertips. They’re to be picked up and put into our pockets, wallets, or purses.


So how can you fill that purpose in a way that fits in today’s digital age?…..


Get your business card on people’s phones.


We’re always connected to our phones.


They’re in our pockets or within reach and are the first thing we grab when we need information but are not next to our computers.


So getting your business’s information onto people’s phones rather than handing out a card is a great way to help them remember you and to save costs.


It also helps reduce waste.


So this is a great approach if you target a market that’s environmentally friendly.


*Not sure who your target market is? Check out this easy tip.



How can you get your business info onto peoples’ phones?

Instead of handing out business cards at your next craft fair, get shoppers to snap a picture of a sign that’s an enlarged business card.


You could set it in a frame (glass removed to reduce reflection) or mount it on foam-core and hang/prop it up in your space.


You can also use foam-core or poster board to add a note on a cutout that prompts people to use their phones and snap a picture instead of taking a card.


I suggest setting this business card display at the end of your table (zone 3).


That way, people snapping pictures of your business card aren’t standing in the way of shoppers who may actually buy that day.


Your table should have 3 zones, each with a significant purpose. Find out what those 3 zones are and the purpose they serve here: Craft Show Table Layout Tips.


I’m constantly looking in my phone’s photo albums…..mostly to check out photos of my cat, but the point is, I’m way more likely to come across your business if it’s on my phone rather than in a box in my office.


If you want people to think of you next time they’re in the market for the products you make, your business needs to be top of mind. And the way to stay top of mind is to stay in view.


This is the reason companies pay a lot of money for advertising.


Brands don’t expect you to jump off the couch to run out and buy their product after seeing their commercial. But they know if you see their products and hear their name enough, they’ll be first in your mind when you are shopping.


Think about one of the least interesting things to shop for: insurance. If you had to look for a new insurance provider, who would you think of? I don’t have a clue what’s out there aside from GEICO and State Farm. They instantly come to mind due to the sheer number of times I’ve heard their slogans and jingles, seen their mascots, and laughed at their commercials. They’ve stayed in sight.


Your business needs to be seen after the craft fair and what better way than to get onto shoppers’ phones?


I would suggest keeping a few business cards to hand out to those who don’t have a camera on their phone or to include with your purchases.


>> Check out these tips for your physical cards so people are more likely to hang onto them.


The business card sign will be a fun way for your shoppers to interact with your brand, attract some attention, save some money, and stay in view.


Check out another version of this idea that simply uses a regular business card and adds a note next to it.



What’s even more effective than getting your business card on their phone?

Collecting their email addresses and permission to send them newsletters.


Did you know that “checking email” is one of the top 2 reasons people go online? (source)


Starting a newsletter (it’s easier than you think and will take you 10 minutes to set up today….here’s how) and sending subscribers great content on a regular basis  is even more effective than getting shoppers to save your business card.


>> Here are 5 ideas for what to send your subscribers to make a sale


Not only is your business more likely to be seen when it shows up in a potential customer’s email box, but it also puts you in the driver’s seat.


If a craft show shopper snaps a pic of your business card, you must then wait for them to make the second contact with your business; to look at that photo and type your website address into a web browser or contact you.


If you get their email address, you can pop into their email’s inbox whenever you like (*within reason…I explain the legal rules and etiquette of sending a newsletter in How to Start Send & Grow a Successful Newsletter).


And they’re more likely to see that message than if you post it to Facebook or Instagram. 


Social media platforms have complicated algorithms that determine which posts will show up in people’s feeds and when. Which can make it difficult to reach the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.


Shift that hard work to building your email list.


Email doesn’t have a complicated algorithm.


If you send an email to someone, it gets delivered.


It can, of course, end up in the spam folder if you’re not careful, but there are ways to avoid that, which I share in How to Start Send & Grow a Successful Newsletter.


“The rule of 7” states that it takes consumers seven interactions with a business before they’re ready to buy.


I’m sure it’s not exactly seven interactions before every sale; it may be more or less for you. Many people do buy on the first interaction (e.g. they discover your business at a craft show and buy an item).


However, one thing is for certain:


Consumers like to do their research and think things over before spending a lot of cash. 


If your handmade business sells high-quantities of $5 items, you may not need to worry about those seven interactions. Most people don’t hesitate to spend $5 on an item they love.


But most businesses have a range of products at varying price points, and they want to sell higher ticket items. In this scenario, most craft show shoppers will buy a lower ticket item from a business they’re unfamiliar with, and then keep an eye on that business and think about purchasing a higher-priced item if they’re happy with their first purchase.

*This is why it’s important to have entry-level products that make it easy for shoppers to buy. Here’s how to create entry-level products for your business


In this case, more than one interaction is required and email is the best way to ensure you create those multiple interactions.


Your emails act as reminders. Without those reminders, they may or may not think about your business or visit your website.


Make sure you start your newsletter and collect email addresses at your next craft show. There’s even a free newsletter signup form here you can print.


*Please be sure you understand the rules and laws around email marketing. You cannot simply start sending people your newsletter just because they’ve contacted you and you have their email address. There are laws you must follow in terms of how you collect email addresses and obtain consent. A topic also covered in How to Start Send & Grow a Successful Newsletter.


You also want to follow all the other laws: Laws for Selling Handmade



And if shoppers don’t take a card, snap a pic, or sign up for your newsletter?

Hopefully, you’ve created a business, products, and a display that shoppers remember.


You can’t just be another jewelry, soap, or scarf vendor. You’ve gotta become THE jewelry, soap or scarf vendor selling…..whatever it is that makes your business unique.


Being handmade, made by you, or “your designs” isn’t enough to make a business unique these days. There are millions of handmade products for consumers to choose from. You need a strong unique selling position (USP). These are 3 Mistakes Handmade Businesses Make with their USP.


From defining your brand, USP, and message, to grabbing attention and increasing sales, you’ll find it all in this FREE email challenge.


Think of it this way; if a shopper didn’t grab your card but ended up contacting the event organizer to find out your company name, could they describe your products and brand in just a few words? For example:

>>A jewelry vendor with the white and teal booth selling only turquoise pieces.

>>The soap vendor with a booth that looked like a candy factory and sells candy-scented soaps.

>>The scarf vendor who uses cruelty-free wool.


If you immediately remembered GEICO’s commercials when I mentioned their name earlier, it’s because you made a connection with their brand. You may not have a strong connection with auto insurance….most people don’t….that’s why they’ve created a connection with people another way: through humor.


You need to uncover your brand and message, and figure out how you’re going to make a connection with people. That’s how you’ll truly get them to remember your business. I’ll help you do that in this FREE email challenge.




My FREE 5 day challenge will walk you through building a display that shoppers notice as soon as they walk in the venue and will be sure to remember long after they leave. Sign up for the FREE challenge below:

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  1. Another idea is to put a coupon on the back r a punch system.

  2. We have had great sucess for many years from having special business cards printed up with a $10 forever value on the back. We hand write a code consisting of letters and date on the corner so we know which trade show and mo/yr it was issued for our records. When the customer visits our shop we deduct the $10 from their total purchase no exceptions. No quilter will throw away $10 worth of supplies.

  3. Made Urban says:

    That’s a great idea Pam! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Made Urban says:

    Turning your business cards into punch cards is a great idea too Leean!

  5. phylliesmith50 says:

    I love the idea of using your cell phone. That way the customers don’t have to waste your money of ordering a lot of biz cards

  7. Pingback: 5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show – Made urban
  8. I buy a ream of cardstock for $5 and print off 2500 business cards to hand out and engage customers. I keep my nice printed ones for paying customers and card collectors (at comic cons it’s a thing).

    I usually only hand out that entire ream at most at conventions and I throw that $5 into advertising cost.

    I used to get upset when people threw my cards on the ground but I’ve now made it a game at conventions. I also try to look at it like this: a person with no intention of entering a vendor hall at a convention sees my card on the ground of their hotel. Suddenly now I’m in their thoughts and they never stepped foot near my booth.


    And another trick I’m going to implement at my next convention is creating a QR code that links back to your social media. I have one for my instagram now and hopefully I will score hundreds of new users at every convention!

  9. Sandra Cherry Jones says:

    I made bookmarks from designer paper that I had left over from a project. I added my contact information on the back. I hand these to people and they seem to like them.

  10. Also, cute hang tags are also a great way to market by including an email or website on each hang tag will get your product and your information into the homes of purchasing customers or the recipient if it was a gift.

    1. Diane's Unique Floral Gifts says:

      I now make two tags for my items, one for the customer or recipient and one for the register,that way like you said they will know where the item came from,also its free advertisement !

  11. Made Urban says:

    Hi Lori, Sandra and Diane!

    Those are great ideas!

    QR codes are a good way to add some interaction with your cards. Bookmarks are definitely something someone would hang onto. And hangtags are a good place to advertise your website and send your info home with people who buy.

    Thanks for reading!


  12. Madge Wessels says:

    I love the discount tag no body can resist a freeb

  13. Marie Weaver says:

    I do wood crafts. I’ve decided to try using mod podge to secure my biz card to the back of all of my work. They’ll always have my contact info and if anyone compliments their woodcrafts and asks where they found it…it will be right on the back!

    1. I print the QR code link (with my business name) to my Facebook page on the sticker attached to the bottom of my item and epoxy over it

  14. Made Urban says:

    That’s a really good idea Marie! I’ve also seen business logos & info literally branded into woodwork with a hot iron;)

  15. North2South Crafts says:

    All really great ideas! Being new at doing craft shows I’m trying to figure all of this out… thx for the info.

    I make and sell Gingerbread Guy ornaments, kits and cards which I have the shape of my GGuys in a die. I printed off my business card like Lori does and I cut them into the shape of the Gingerbread Guy. The down side is that it’s a little time consuming and does not use every inch of the cardstock like square cards do but I’m hoping it will be unique enough to help people remember me and want to keep the card. I will be trying them out at my next show to see how well they are received and may only use them at shows for the uniqueness of them.

  16. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading North2South Crafts 🙂 That’s a great idea, keep in touch and let me know the response to your gingerbread cards at your next event.

  17. Cheryl Karl says:

    I love the hang tag idea. I knew a lady that designed her hang tags so they would fold in the middle, with logo and name on front, other info on back, she punched a hole in the top (middle) and put the price on the inside! It looked very professional. (she made quilts).

  18. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting Cheryl! I like that idea too, thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. I took your advice about the business card sign. It worked very well at my last 2 shows this month.
    Thank you very much. Regards

  20. Ruth Wanner says:

    There are some great ideas here – I like the $10 off. One thing I have done with my business cards. I use them for hang tags also. They are 2 sided. One side has my logo and the other side has my contact info. On the side with the logo, I have a blank space at the end (the short side) so I can put the price. I put the contact info on the other side a little off center. That way if the item is a gift, the giver can cut off the price, but the receiver still has my contact info.

  21. Cheryl H. says:

    I put instructions on how to use our product, so people pick them up so they can use the reference later. I love all the ideas here, too.

  22. I dig all of these ideas! Thanks folks!!

  23. Hi! I just ran across your pin and hoping to get into craft shows next year. I love the idea of taking a pic for a business card, but the number one rule at craft shows is no pictures. I’ve actually been yelled at, even though my intention was not to copy the product. Did you ever run into back lash about your digital card?

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