How to Make Business Cards Effective

by Thomas Metcalf; Updated September 26, 2017
Two businessmen and women exchanging business cards

Even though you may make many business contacts through the social media, nothing can replace a business card for a quick introduction when you meet a person face-to-face or when you leave behind a record of your visit. Business cards are an inexpensive marketing tool which, if used effectively, can boost your sales and business.

Presenting the Right Image

Since your card may be the first impression a sales prospect or potential investor has about your business, you want to present the right image. For example, if you provide a professional service such as bookkeeping, you don't want your card to feature loud colors or designs that might be more appropriate for a game store. Your card design should also be consistent with the brand you present in your other marketing collateral. Include your company's logo and a tag line – a short catchy phrase that offers a benefit and tells what you do. “Nothing runs like a Deere,” for example, is short, descriptive and memorable.

What Every Card Needs

Every business card needs certain information, including the business name, physical or mailing address, email address and phone and fax numbers. The more contact information you include, the easier it will be for your prospects to reach you. Whether you include a personal cell phone number is a matter of choice. If you leave it off, you can hand write it on the card, giving your contact the impression that he is getting preferred contact information. If you have an official job title, consider omitting it. Regardless of your position, a title on the card limits you to that role.

Choosing Your Card Stock

The tactile feel of a card is important, whether it is the weight or a certain kind of material. Your card should be printed on standard sized card stock – 2-by-3½ inches – and the heavier the better. Lightweight business cards suggest poor quality, which will reflect badly on your image. Use alternative material only if it relates to your business. For example, a printed circuit board company might use film for its business cards, or a cabinet maker might use a thin layer of veneer for the base of a card.

What to Include and What Not

Since your card is a reflection of you and your business, how you use it will determine what you include. For example, some personal services professionals – such as real estate agents, investment advisers and hairdressers – include a photo of themselves on the card so they can put a face with a name. You might also consider using the back of the card, either by showing a map with directions to your business or a photograph of your business or workmanship. A nursery and gardening company might display a photograph of a well-manicured lawn or garden. Alternatively, if you leave the back blank, you can write notes such as “2-for1 sale ends next week” or other calls to action.

About the Author

Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.

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