The modern-day business card is carry-over from the Industrial Revolution and dates back possibly as far as 15th century China. It once was a tool to communicate status. Later, it became one of very few ways—other than the phone directory—to help people know how to reach you.
Things don’t work that way anymore.
It’s not hard to find someone’s contact information anymore. What is difficult today is finding the right tools to attract and sustain someone’s attention—to be memorable.
Your business card communicates an experience to your audience.
I know it’s old fashioned, but…
Let’s just get this out of the way. Some don’t believe business cards anymore.
I still do. I believe that little things count for a lot in business.
The information your card contains and how it is presented instantly defines the way your audience perceives you, along with what you have to say and what you are selling.
Even with something as simple as a business card, when you design with your customer in mind, you’re creating a powerful suggestion about how you work and of how you can help people.
Taking the time to ensure your business card delivers a great experience isn’t all that hard to do.
Let me share with you what I’ve learned…
Print on the best stock you can find.
This is the number-one thing you must do. Buy the very best paper stock you can. Print in smaller batches if you have to. Good stock looks professional and avoids the frayed, dog-eared look that afflicts so many flimsy cards. Personally, I’m quite happy with the stock they use at moo.com.
Avoid glossy finishes, but ensure white space.
There’s a practical reason why you should say no to glossy and yes to generous use of white space. Business cards can be really handy to write on. Don’t underestimate this benefit. A short note jotted down on the back of your card can do amazing things. It’s one of the subtle ways that something mass produced can become personalized. People like things that are made just for them.
Don’t be clever at the expense of being useful.
Look online and you’ll find lots of examples of clever business cards. Some of them are even useful. But many are just wasted expressions of vanity. What am I going to do with an all-steel embossed card that’s impossible to read in low light and that I can’t write on? I mean really.
Most people today are drowning in too much information. Make it easier for them to reach you by being selective about what you include on your card. If phone, email and your website are the top-three places people go to reach you, then include just that. Unless you’re in a business that predominantly uses fax (and you have my sympathies if you are), then cut that from your card. There’s no penalty for leaving some things out. Keep it simple. We’re not living in the 1970s anymore. There are other places people can go to find additional information about you if they need it.
Include a photo, but only pro-grade.
Since all business is personal and so much of marketing today is relationship-based, including a professionally-shot photo of yourself on your card is never a bad idea. But do this only if the photo is a professional headshot.
Short and sweet.
The life of the modern business card is short and sweet. Gone are the days when the cards you give to people would be tucked into a rolodex and used repeatedly when someone wanted to call you. Most people today aren’t going to keep your card for very long: just until they can enter it into their address book or CRM. Keep your card simple, purposeful and memorable: that’s what sells. Complement it with other products to serve as leave-behinds that can deliver substance: free ebooks, guides and reports are just a few examples.
Think about the reader’s experience.
Focus less on what matters to you and instead ask what creates the best experience for the person who receives your card. Remember: the more information you put on that 3.5 x 2 inch piece of paper, the smaller the typeface you’ll need, and the less white space you’ll have.