Business cards – get real and get yours right

Once again we welcome British businessman and printing expert Mark Orr to HTWB. I have written about business cards before, but now we get advice from the top! Here he shares his top tips on how make your business cards work as hard for you as they can … and this is based on many years of experience of guiding his customers to the best solutions. Over to Mark…

Business cards - get real and get yours right

Make sure your name is the boldest and easiest to read text on the card.

Your business card is the one piece of marketing material that we are all programmed to give and receive. The other great news is they are also often kept and referred to later. So it is important that you treat it as a marketing piece, not just an information card delivering your contact details.

Firstly, remember business cards are highly personal.

Make sure you have one with your name on it. Make sure your name is the boldest and easiest to read text on the card. This is because many people will read your card in front of you to remember and use your name. If it is not clear they will struggle.

Because your business card is very personal I believe your mobile phone number should come first and then a direct dial number if you have one and lastly your office number. Your email address should be a personal one with your name in it.

Avoid small text and lots of empty space

Historically very artistic graphic designers have created business cards with loads of empty white space and absolutely tiny text. This has always been a bit silly as a major aspect of a card is to safely deliver contact information. If you can barely read it then it fails in that purpose.

These days, with email addresses being very important, please make them big enough to read easily. On that note, it is a good idea nowadays to include your social media addresses because many people you meet might prefer to engage with you in those environments. 

Don’t forget your business card has two sides

It is important to use the back of the card. Not using it is literally cutting your real estate in half. It is a bit like buying a two storey house and deciding to only use the ground floor. On the back you could include all sorts of things. A list of services, an ethic, a testimonial, some tips, a list of the types of businesses and professions you would like to be referred to, a call to action.

Some people will tell you that they don’t want anything on the back because they want people to write on it. This is a high risk strategy as you have no control over what they write and it may not be what you would like.

Not too edgy

Avoid putting any text closer than 5mm from any edge. This makes your business card look crowded even if it isn’t. The printing and trimming process is not so accurate that every card will be cut in exactly the same way.

The trim can move by a milimetre or two in any direction so things very close to the edge will suddenly be on the edge or even trimmed off on the odd card that is not trimmed accurately.

Don’t skimp on material for your business cards

Business cards - get real and get yours right

Avoid small text and lots of empty space

Material is important. If your cards are printed on flimsy, low quality material they will get noticed for all the wrong reasons. People will assume your business, products and services are as cheap and nasty as your cards.

Please don’t use cards that say “business cards are free at…..” on the back. This will make you look like a rank amateur and instantly reduce the price of any product or service you attempt to sell. People just won’t buy high priced goods or services from somebody who places no value at all on their business card.

Thick wears better

If you do need people to write on your card you would be better with uncoated stock and definitely avoid laminated cards or plastic cards. These days it is possible to get very thick cards produced relatively cheaply.

Most business cards are between 350 and 400gsm (Grams per Square Metre) and many of them are laminated which makes them more robust and thicker. However, it is possible to get cards in three or four layers up to the equivalent of 1,000gsm. These will make you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Keep to standard business card sizes

The standard size of a business card in the UK and Europe is 55mm x 85mm. In the US it is 50mm x 90mm.

For most people I would recommend they stick with 55mm x 85mm. This is pretty much the same size as a credit card which means it will also fit in people’s wallets and therefore be kept.

You can do a different size in order to stand out from the crowd but bear in mind that the card may not be kept, because it won’t fit in business card boxes or other holders.

Invest in something special

Some special finishing will make your cards stand out. Things like silver or gold foiling, embossing, spot gloss UV varnish or even cutting to a special shape can add value to your brand and be highly effective.

They obviously add cost but can be better value because they will be kept and even shared if the recipients really like the effect. Business cards were shared long before social media!

What about a four-page business card?

 As I said earlier, business cards are often the only piece of marketing material that we are all programmed to give and receive. So, if you have more to say than will easily fit on two sides you can always do 4 or 6 by folding them down to the standard size.

This then becomes a mini brochure. Also, the cards will then be thicker and three dimensional. That means they will stand up on their own on a table.  You will also find that people will open them up and read the inside whilst you stand there.  So, it becomes a talking point to help you engage with them.

Mark Orr is founder and CEO of PrintingandMailing  

Please share your thoughts on business cards in the comments. And if you found the post useful, please share it!

Image 1 thanks to harrykirkby.deviantart.com

Image 2 thanks to graphberry.deviantart.com

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