What People Aren't Telling You


My Grandmother used to say "People do one thing as they do all things," meaning that you can look at any aspect of the way someone behaves and see what they are going to be like to deal with, personally or professionally.  If a person has to borrow a pencil at a meeting, they may not plan ahead for the big picture.  If someone brings two pencils to the meeting, they may foresee problems and have back up plans in mind. Following Grandma's advice,  I don't arrive at a business meeting in torn jeans and an old t-shirt, and I don't hand out cheap, forgettable business cards. 

Business cards are your go-to piece of identification, essential for networking and marketing. They provide your contact details and an introduction of you and your company to prospective customers, and reinforce your brand. Hopefully your card makes a positive and memorable impression.  But many cards don't.

With color copiers and printers in every business place, people started considering print as a cheap commodity about five years ago. It was thought that there was no reason to spend any money for professional printed and designed business cards, because they could be purchased very cheaply over the Internet. However, there is now a huge backlash against this trend.  

Many professionals have now made the connection of cheap business cards with fly-by-night or upstart companies.  Since a stack of cards can be purchased so easily and cheaply, they are often used by people who aren't true professionals.  Are good business cards the new secret handshake?  Maybe so.

Sabine Lenz, founder of PaperSpecs.com wrote a guest post for Printing Impression entitled “These Business Cards Are Crap,” that has been forwarded, tweeted, posted, and blogged about around the nation.  If you haven't had this forwarded to you yet, read it now, because she gives you the funny and straight talk about the cheap, flimsy stock, off-center cards she collects every time she networks.  This is a glimpse inside the mind of the person that you are handing your card to. 

Lenz questions the quality, beauty, and usability of cards, and explains the tactile experience of receiving a card: looking at the name, making a visual connection between the giver’s company and the person himself. We learn and remember through touch, she reminds us, and an exceptional card will hold the viewer's attention for a moment, allowing them to remember us much more vividly afterwards.  

The Good 

Good business cards are memorable and informative.  The design is clean and creative without overshadowing the information, the print is crisp and tight, and the piece itself has presence.  Good paper, good design, good print.  The overall look and feel is positive and captivating, and there is enough content on the card that the recipient knows who you and your company are, and what you do. 

The Bad

A business card is not a mini brochure with paragraphs of copy.  Neither should it have print so small that it is unreadable, or have so little information on it that it cannot immediately be connected to you or your company.  And, if you can hold your card up to the light and see through it, then it isn't doing a good job representing you to others.

The Ugly

Don't let your accountant, engineer, or brother-in-law design your business card.  Boring is very bad, but ugly is even worse. 

Take a moment to pull out and evaluate one of your own business cards.  If you don't get a warm feeling and a proud smile on your face when you touch it, consider what others think of it (and you, and your company) when they receive it. Maybe this is a good time to rethink, redesign, and reprint.  Use this as an opportunity to add your Twitter, Facebook, or blog address. This is one company investment that will always pay off.  After all, this is the part of you that you leave behind for others to review!

Trevor Rowe