The Humble Business Card

Written on the 15 July 2013 by Kellie Williams

The Humble Business Card


They're old school but still cool. Every card you hand out is an opportunity to make a new client. Are yours giving them the right message?

Potential marketing avenues are so diverse now. Gone are the days when you would check the local paper or yellow pages for a service or product. Today we do a quick Google search on our smart phones to find what we’re looking for. 

But traditional marketing values aren’t yet obsolete. In this modern fast-paced world of business we mustn’t forget the value of some of the ‘older’ techniques. Direct mail marketing, the giving of business cards and telesales are still hugely popular. Why? Because they still work.

Why Business Cards Mean Business

Standard business cards have dimensions of 90mm x 55mm, and are used by business professionals. They contain contact details and information about the business you work for. When you meet a potential client, you hand them a card and they can get in touch with you.

But in the age of the smart phone, why is the humble business card still so popular? And why do they still work?

Business cards can be a very successful marketing tool that could reveal a great deal about your organisation. They help clients, customers and competitors find out more about you and what you do. Their effectiveness is in their simplicity, low cost and tangibility - which has them leading the pack with other forms of ‘contact me’.

So how can you make your business cards work for you? What are the secrets of designing a business card? And most importantly, how can you use them to aid your marketing?

What to Include on Your Cards

When considering the design of your business card, remember bland is boring! There are a few things that need to be on them. But the rest of the design is up to you.

Let’s first start with the key features of your card. You should make sure that the following are all clearly displayed:

  • Business name and/or logo
  • Your name and title
  • Points of contact - address, telephone, mobile, email, and social media
  • Some wording - a slogan or tagline of some kind

So you’ve got all the ‘prerequisites’ down. What next?

Nailing the Design

We work tirelessly to make our business stand out from the crowd. Why then, do so many of us lack inspiration when it comes to crafting a killer business card? It’s like all our creative flair vanishes and we stick to something dull and boring.

By changing just a few things we can convey all the right messages about our brand. See the table opposite for a few things you can do to transform the look of your cards.

Combining all these methods - or some ideas of your own - you can create a design that will work wonders for your marketing. If you’re not particularly creative, engage a graphic artist to work with you to produce an eye-catching and well branded business card.

Optional Extras

Once you’ve got the design down, there are a few final points you need to consider before you can start using your cards as a marketing tool. In terms of business promotion, these ‘optional extras’ can help make the difference between success and failure.

There are many variables that can change the whole look and feel of your cards. Minimising the number of colours your design features or adding a special spot colour or foil (like silver or gold) will make your card stand out.

Mix it up

You can also choose the weight of the card your design is printed on. Thicker card gives a richer feel. You could also look at different types of card such as recycled card or textured cards to make an impact. 

Finally, you need to decide whether you want any special coatings and finishes applied to the cards. This includes gloss or matt laminating, as well as UV coatings (raised laminating). All of these features will impact on your printing costs so it is worth properly researching each aspect in more detail.

Small Card, Big Impression

They may be small, but business cards can make a big impression. In terms of marketing, they promote both you and your business in one small space. By making your cards stand out from the crowd, you can do wonders for your offline marketing.

We have relied on emails and social media for too long. The humble business card is one traditional marketing tool that adds personality back to your business. Have fun with them and most importantly make sure that they’re too good to resist.

Small changes can make a big impact when designing your business cards:

  • Change the orientation or size of your business card
  • Change the shape by using a die-cut - a business card for a baker could be in the shap of a biscuit
  • Print on both sides of the card - why waste all that space? Use the back of your card to list your products, services or particular specialisation so that people will be reminded of what you can offer them long after they’ve met you
  • Add a photograph - It helps your prospect to put a name to a face. If you made a great first impression when you met them, they’re much more likely to pick up the phone and make contact
  • Use a different textured card. Ask your printer for samples of different stock
  • Make sure they fit within your corporate branding. This means using your business colours and typography to make them instantly recognisable

Author: Kellie Williams
About: Kellie studied Commercial Art over 20 years ago at James Cook University and has been working in the Printing and Media industries ever since. She has worked for screenprinters, printing companies and newspapers in North Queensland and now runs her own business, Jasper Design, which has Qld and interstate clients.
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