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Business Tips: Business Cards

What Are Your Business Cards Saying About You?

By Jeff Dupress of

Your business cards tell customers and clients much more than just your name and contact information. These cards send messages about how well established you are, your level of creativity, and what degree of success you've achieved. After you meet someone at a conference or in some other situation, the card is usually all that represents you--what does that card say to the person looking at it? Take another look at your business card. Can you offer a more positive message? Perhaps....

Business card content

  • Choose your focus. If you have more than one business, create more than one business card. For example, if you do public speaking, wedding photography, and Website design, you need three cards. People want expertise, not "jack of all trades."
  • Keep it simple. An important thing to remember is not to make your business cards too complicated. You want your message to be simple, but compelling.
  • Avoid clutter. More isn't necessarily better. Include what's essential, but no more than that. Design the card to look "clean," not crowded.
  • Provide essential information. Clutter is unacceptable, but a card that doesn't provide essential information is useless. A short slogan will tell people what you offer. Include your business name and contact information. Do not use an AOL e-mail address or an address from one of the free e-mail services--doing so marks you as an amateur. Your e-mail domain should be the same as your Website domain.
  • Stay conservative. With some exceptions, the image of business is conservative. The main message you are trying to deliver is that your company is stable, well established, and professional. Therefore, avoid bright, garish cards. If you are a comedian, of course, you can "depart from the script." In general, you want to avoid "cutesy" gimmicks and other attention getters. Your card may get attention, but it won't get respect. And that means you won't get business. People want to trust those with whom they do business.

Card design

  • A logo (or photo, if engaging in professional services) helps dress a card out. If you use a logo or photo, think carefully about the image it presents. Ask your printshop for advice.
  • Don't use tiny fonts in an effort to cram more information onto the card. A business card isn't a resume or Website. It's not a magazine article. Look at other people's cards, and note which ones are visually appealing with information that seems to jump out at you.
  • Go easy on the colors. Choose one or two colors. Black on white stock is almost never a bad choice. Another good choice is dark blue on white stock. If you use a light color of text on a dark background (think of "reverse printing"), you are going to sacrifice ease of reading. People overwhelmingly prefer dark print on a light background.

The physical card

  • Be careful about the type of stock you use. Don't use cheap stock--doing so tells others that your business is not doing well. The quality of the stock reflects the quality of your service or product. Buying good stock does not cost much more than buying the cheap stuff.
  • A newly popular idea is to create business cards on a desktop computer. Sure, it's fine to create your cards that way--for a professional printer to review and tweak. The many details you don't know about are ones the printer is intimately familiar with. Rather than have your card give the subliminal impression that "something isn't right," have your final design done by someone who specializes in business card design.
  • Another popular idea is to print your cards on standard desktop equipment. Even most untrained eyes can spot cards printed this way. The amount of "cost savings" is dubious at best, plus your time is involved. And again, you have the "something isn't right" message being sent out. This will reflect on the quality of your business. To make the right impression, use high quality, professionally created, professionally printed business cards. The printing machines that professional printers use are very costly, and there's a reason why. That reason shows up when you compare cards printed by them to ones printed by desktop machinery.

Six point summary

Remember, the purpose of your business card is to generate sales leads that help you get business. Keep these six points in mind:

  1. Focus your card on what you are offering to a given market.
  2. Think carefully about your message.
  3. Provide what people need to know, but no more.
  4. Use a conservative design, for a professional image.
  5. Ensure the information is easy to read.
  6. Have your cards printed on quality stock.

Jeff Delpress is the Webmaster and operator of, an Internet resource for printing information.


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