What Makes a Great Business Card?


The humble business card is one of the least appreciated marketing tools you will have.

Every business person will have one and in some cases it is the only print marketing material they will have created. So it seems strange to me how many times someone presents me with a poorly designed, badly printed card, poorly cut and on cheap paper! What does this say about you and your business?

You don’t want a potential customer getting the wrong impression of your business do you?

No? Then here are some points on what makes a business card great:


A Miniature Portable Advert

What if tomorrow around the world the term ‘business card’ disappeared and the small card you give people was known as the ‘Miniature Portable Advert’. Would you still look at it in the same way and go for the cheapest possible design and print? A business card IS a miniature portable advert and if you get it right then it can literally create business opportunities for you.

I have personally witnessed many examples of good business cards being the catalyst to business people talking and subsequently doing business. On a few occasions the card alone has instigated a call and business was done.

Do’s & Don’ts Of Business Cards

  1. DO be involved in the process:
    DON’T just abdicate the responsibility of your business card, the most precious promotional element you will have created for your business, to someone else. Get involved and let them know what you want!
  2. DO have your business card professionally designed:
    The design and layout is the most important aspect of your card, so don’t ask your 15 year old son/daughter/cousin’s aunt’s friend to do it for you.
  3. DO use the back:
    So many times I look at the back of a business card only to find nothing on it.
    DON’T cram everything onto one side and leave the back empty. Put a list of your services on the back or even just your website address. Just make use of it.
  4. DO look at many other business cards:
    Decide what you like and don’t like. What dimensions do you want? Do you want portrait or landscape? The options are endless, so put the ones you like to one side and discuss them with your designer/printer.
  5. DO think about using a coating:
    Business cards can be provided with a ‘natural’ finish or have a matte or gloss laminate applied. This can help with aesthetics or be a very practical addition to your card. A mechanic for instance should always gloss laminate the card. This way, oily finger marks will not get into the card surface. Other than for practical reasons the coatings are purely a question of choice.
  6. DO think about what you want your card to ‘say’:
    You card doesn’t have to be just text and white space. Colours and images can be used very effectively to make a card that stands out, but does it match your business. A landscape gardener with a pure white card doesn’t really work, while a bank manager with pictures of money is equally out of place. So think about your business and be prepared to convey your preferences and requirements to the designer. Remember, you are the expert in your business; they are simply a tool to deliver what you want.
  7. DO use a professional printer:
    The best design poorly printed can look awful. Be critical and look at the card carefully for flaws in colours, images and text. Look especially carefully at the cutting. Are the edges clean and smooth or are they rough with small flaws? If it’s not right don’t accept them; reject them and ask for another set. If it’s not right twice, find another printer.
  8. DO choose heavy card:
    We always recommend at least 350gsm card. Anything lighter and your card will be too flimsy and bendy and will feel cheap.DO ask the printer what weight of card will be used before they print it as they may have a specific weight included in their pricing.
  9. DO choose quality card.
    Using a cheap stock of card is like putting cheap ingredients into food. The end result just isn’t the same as a dish made with quality ingredients. Match your card choice to your business. A solicitor may use a dimpled/embossed type of paper while someone selling a modern technology would use a smooth paper.


Want To Be Different?

Perhaps you run a business where you want to do something different. I have seen very effective business cards in the shape of a protractor (an architect’s firm), a working miniature CD (an office furniture company) and even a floral scented scratch and sniff card (a flower shop). Whether you want an odd shape or something completely different, it can all be done, just make sure that it makes a statement and doesn’t just come across as gimmicky.

In summary, a great business card will open doors for you, while an average card will be lost in the pile with everyone else and a poor card will go straight in the bin. Which type of card do you want your business to have?

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