In a digitally connected world, so much meaningful business is still conducted face to face. Business cards are a fundamental piece of marketing. After that first handshake, the trading of business cards is a time-honored tradition.
The basic info to include is your company name/logo, personal name, phone(s), title, email address and website. The size and content are well-known to the point that the average person will notice when something is different or missing. You can use this to your advantage.
From the aesthetic perspective, business cards are a tiny canvas that can make a big impression. I tend to put minimal information on a card (does anyone really need to fax you from your card?), and use the back side of the card as a billboard for a positioning statement to make sure the recipient knows what the business stands for.
You can get a lot of mileage out of small changes to the usual standard. Most business cards are on thin, white paper. Your biz card can stand out with a strong color palette, a different kind of paper (thicker, glossier, rounded corners, etc.), and also by design techniques. In most cases, you’ll want the card to match any other branding you have. Consistency of color, font, spacing, margins, etc all subtly help the recipient to see your company as polished and on top of its game.
All local printers can produce business cards for you. There are some national ones that can produce them as well, but there can be a tradeoff in quality and specifications. If you want a small run of cards, say under 100, printing on a digital press (think overgrown Xerox machine) is a quick and cost-effective method. If you’re ready for a full print run – usually 500 or more – then offset printing is a better cost per piece, gives you more options for paper finishes and has better color matching.
If you’re working with a designer or trying to design a card on your own, first gather all of the pieces that you need to include. Make sure you have a good, clean version of your logo that is suitable for printing. Generally logos on websites are too low-resolution to reproduce well in print. Decide if you can get away with one phone number, like just your cell or office phone. If you have a tagline for the company, that typically makes a stronger impression than a bullet list of services. You can always give people more details, but you can’t give them a first impression.
Assembling the design is more art than science. As long as the information is on there and legible, it’s fair game. Search the web for examples of other business cards that have been done already and see what you like about them. With that information, you’re ready to make your card rock.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may not want to read this. Don’t let the size of the medium fool you. The amount of work to make a really good, unique card is on par with a poster. If you want a really good card, expect to have a designer spend 3+ hours coming up with creative solutions for a first draft. It may seem high on a per-square-inch basis, but the work to develop a hot design is no less because of the size.
The business card is a great medium for making a first impression, serves very well as an inexpensive leave behind and has a very long shelf-life. If you’re planning to be in business for a while, it pays to invest a bit and think more of the amortized cost over the years than the upfront cost.