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5 Ways to Improve Your Business Cards (Remember Those?)

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A guest post by Tara Hornor of PrintPlace.com.

Even though so much of marketing is done online now, the traditional 2.5”x3” business cards are still as significant as they have ever been. This tiny billboard that represents your business will stay in the hands of your potential customers for months and even possibly years. The better your business cards, the better impression you will leave.

Here are some fabulous tips for making your business cards stand out:

1. Give them flair.
As long as your business cards look professional and are easy to read, you can play with the design as much as you want. Use colors that draw attention and non-traditional fonts that suit your style. Graphics and photographs add character to any card, and this is an important design move that can give your clients a better idea of who you are.

2. Leave room to breathe.
You will probably be tempted to fill every corner of your business cards. This is not only unnecessary, it can often cause your cards to look cluttered. By using plenty of white space in your design, you will help to draw eyes to your information. With white space, viewers will be able to take in your information in just a quick glance, which is all the time some clients will give your card.

3. Add web addresses.
You would never forget to include your name and phone number on your business cards. Now that online networking is such a huge part of marketing, you should also never forget your web addresses. Include your website address first, and then add one or several social networking sites that you are a part of. Do not forget your email address as well.

4. Use contrast to create interest.
Contrast can be developed with colors, text sizes, and types of fonts. Using contrast can give your card a more structured appearance, so bold your title and shrink your other content. This contrast draws attention to the content that should be read first. Make sure your text color stands out well from your background color. If you do use more than one type of font to set apart information, limit yourself to only two different types so as not to clutter your design.

5. Carry a card holder.
The condition of your business cards gives almost as much of a professional appearance as the design of your business cards. Keep them clean and crisp without folds and smudges by carrying them in a card holder. Just imagine what an impact you can create when you open an impressive card holder and hand your prospect or client an inspiring business card. This thoughtful presentation of your card can really alert clients to what you have to say.

Nearly every businessperson needs business cards for effective networking, so use the tips above to design and print yours right away. Next time someone asks for your contact information, you will have an impressive card that you will be proud to distribute.

Tara Hornor writes about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She works for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company.


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  • by Pete Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Recently, I came across a few folks that use the USB business cards. It is same size as the regular business card, thin enough to fit into your wallet, and has beautiful images printed on them.

    Since it's built with usb flash technology, you can preload the cards with brochures, presentations, videos, website address, etc. Very cool and innovative!

    Here's a site that has some nice images of USB business cards as well as other technical info. Check it out. http://bit.ly/je7U1E

  • by Deborah Elms Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Ha! I just put a good word in for business cards in a LinkedIn question on whether they are still relevant, which is where the link to this article was dropped.

    One more tip: present and receive cards as if they themselves are important, to show respect for your new contact. In the East, one always handles card with 2 hands, and looks the other in the eyes. I am trying to embed that habit in myself, as I find it so classy.

  • by Elaine Fogel Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Tara, I totally agree about the importance of business cards. We have a few different types we use at our company. One I created includes several QR codes to drive people to the different sites we want to promote.

  • by Peg Allen Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Some great advice in this article. Make sure you check spellings, though, to use the right kind of "flair", not the flaming kind. Sorry, the old editor in me coming out.

  • by Jackie Moss Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Great tips and a few more thoughts.

    You can design a beautiful business card layout, but In order to be effective, you need a well-designed logo, whether it is a symbol or a font solution. As Tara said, it is the lasting impression your customers will have.

    Easy to read really is key. A small font size is elegant and sophisticated, but the card needs to be readable. We learned early on that the font size needs to be large enough for older executives to read, especially when they have the final approval on the design. I have many times been in a networking situation where someone hands out their card and the recipient squints and says, "I can't read that, what does it say"? Not a good impression. 7 or 8 pt. is probably the minimum size for readability for most fonts, but it really depends on the style.

    Finally, think about a 2-sided card. For our company, we have our name and logo on one side which gives the recipient an immediate read of the pertinent information. The flip side has all of the contact information for when they need it later. This also affords you the opportunity to "leave room to breathe" instead of cramming all of the information on to one side.

  • by Chris Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Good stuff. I have one observation. It seems there may be a conflict between tip #2 and #3. If I put all of my web addresses on the card (tip #3) along with my phone numbers and mailing address, I will "suffocate" the goal of tip #2. Personally, I find the USB business cards as inconvenient and clunky. I have to put them into my USB drive, open up the file and then sort through all the files & documents. Just give me a link to your website for all that extra stuff. When I get a busihness card I just want the basic contact info.

  • by Susan Wiercinski Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    My company has just added QR codes to our cards. You scan the code with your smartphone and download the info directly to your contacts. We are using iflymobi.com. Very cool and convenient.

  • by Priscilla Newcomb Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    i'm a graphic artist - there are so many ways to make a business card a unique and effective 'knock on the door,' if only the design client would let the artist do their thing. My own business card is a well-designed bookmark. people keep them for years, ask for extras for their kids - and they bring in rave reviews and new business.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    What a great idea for when you need to submit project ideas or previews to clients! Thanks for sharing.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    This is a great tip! Not only does it make the other person feel valued, but if you ever run across a business person from the East, you won't run the risk of offense.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    Including your online presence in business cards, to me, seems to be one of the most important parts of creating a seamless online/offline marketing campaign. In today's digital world, keeping both your online and offline business aspects fully accessible is vitally important. Thanks for sharing!

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    Ugh! I can't believe I missed it! Thank you for your kind correction. :)

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    Thank you, Jackie, for the added advice.

    The font size is certainly an important point of consideration; I agree that it really depends on the font style, but I have often found that 9 pt. is almost too small in most fonts.

    A card that is too cluttered will often annoy recipients enough that they will choose the next business because of the easier to find contact information. Thanks for pointing out that a double-sided business card is often all that is needed to avoid such a disaster.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    Good observations, Chris. I can see where a USB business card could be quite annoying. They are probably best reserved for those special occasions when you need to provide clients with a lot of information pertinent to their individual needs. Otherwise, printed business cards are much more effective.

    Jackie above makes a good point in that it can be much easier to fit all of the information you need when you print on both sides of the card. I would suggest, however, that you eliminate all info to just one of each type. For instance, you could include your web address, one or two phone numbers, one social networking address, and your mailing address. Place this information on one side and your logo, company name, and maybe your name and title on the other side.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    QR codes are very impressive! Plus, they make it so easy to upload contacts to a phone, which is where most people seem to carry their contact information these days.

  • by Tara Hornor Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    A bookmark business card -- what a unique idea! I agree that many companies would benefit from listening to suggestions from a professional designer. Thanks for the tip!

  • by Joey Sargent Sat Jun 25, 2011 via blog

    Hi Tara, enjoyed your post. I recently blogged about business cards (with a shout out to PrintPlace, one of my faves) at http://bit.ly/lo3sVi.

    I think people tend to forget how important cards are, but the reality is that even with all our digital options, a paper card is still the most tangible way to leave a new contact with your information AND reinforce a positive first impression.

  • by Rick L'Amie Sun Jun 26, 2011 via blog

    Great tips, Tara! I like using business cards as a mini-brochure. I posted a link to this article and added two more tips on my blog, Marketing With Moxie. http://bit.ly/jBClAK

  • by EdA2day Wed Jun 29, 2011 via blog

    Great commentary, folks! My $.02:

    1. Pass-along value: Leave the reverse side of your business card mostly or completely blank (maybe half of it can be a QR code) so you and others can write notes such as info requests, referrals, reasons to follow up, etc. I've seen biz cards whose backside is completely taken up with corporate colors and swirly art, forcing people to write notes on the front face, which then renders it hideous and useless to biz card scanners (yes, those are still widely used).

    2. Brand support: The only art should be your company name and/or logo. That's your brand. Make it indelible in people's brains by not distracting them with additional art. Attention is too fleeting. And, again, you will appreciate You will need that note-taking space.

    Have fun!

    ~Ed

  • by HCG corporate designs Thu Jun 30, 2011 via blog

    Nowadays there are so many business and competitors around and the business card belongs to the very first impression and stays (or should stay!) with your (potential) customer for a long time. So it is just a logical conclusion that the business card really MUST be outstanding and mind-blowing and of good material too that lasts for a long time. If somebody wants to sell me that he is "the best in his business" and I see a standard business card on normal paper I see that he does not leave the best impression. I think business cards are a very important investment in your company, not just a "name tag". A business card is a cheap advertisement that stays with your customer for years - what other advertisements do you have that have such a big value at a low price?

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