I came across this article the other day, on a well-known site that corresponds with an equally renowned print magazine. The author, who will remain nameless with the source, was creating a negative argument against the need for business cards in today’s modern digital society. Humorously enough the piece also featured links to other articles professing the dire necessity for such a print marketing tool. What bothered me most about this author’s article, besides a lack of commitment to the stance, was the inclusion of terms like “useless” without any thoughtful consideration of the basis and purpose of such a business formality.
As traditional as a suit and tie are at an important interview and a handshake at the close of a deal, the exchange of business cards during meetings has been used, in one form or another, for centuries.
Is simply producing a business card for the sake of tradition reason enough to have them as part of your print marketing portfolio? No…but it’s the start of a substantial list of reasons why they are still necessary. When phones became a universal tool for saying hello did people stop sending mail? Certain situations still warrant direct mail correspondences even with other more commonplace forms of communication like email and texting. While many business practices may have changed over the years, some traditions are here to stay and are still considered signs of true professionalism and decorum.
Business cards are still a highly effective form of marketing
The fact is, the use of a well-designed business card does not only illustrate your respect and credibility as a company it also acts as a highly efficient form of marketing to clients and prospects. A card that represents your business personality, and stands out as a fresh and fashionable form of contact, will be likely to remain in the wallets, on the counters or desks, or in the monogrammed cases of potential clients, long past those forgotten emails. Even new digital apps, like the popular organizational software Evernote, have a section dedicated to the storage of business cards. Evernote uses an integrated photo tool to snap a shot of the tangible info on business cards and then digitizes it for later use.
Another situation that always (no exceptions) requires a business card is a networking event. Can you exchange contact information by speaking the numbers and letters of your landline and email to a professional typing it into their cellphone? Of course. Is it efficient? Absolutely not. Does it perpetuate an awkward amount of time that could be spent discussing something more important? You bet. Simply hand the card over and move onto more significant matters. You will be able to meet additional people and establish more meaningful connections.
The must-haves of any business card
But don’t just create any old business card. Design a business card that is equal parts classy and original, one that highlights your distinct business personality without being overbearing. When designing a business card, it is important to carefully consider color, contrast, and a visible and stylish font, as well as a brief and well-executed run-down of your most essential company information. Include your unique business logo and feature a cohesive aesthetic that will be sure to turn heads. It’s important to note that while you do want your logo to stand out, sometimes a more understated design will make the best impression.
Designing your business card
Business card sizes
The American standard business card size is 3.5” x 2”, but this doesn’t mean you can’t deviate. If you are a traditional company, looking to hold onto certain professional trademarks then, by all means, choose something that will showcase the valuable brand you have created. For those looking to shake things up, there are many things you can do to make your business cards more distinctive. Try flipping your business card dimensions, making the height of your business card 3.5 inches and the width 2 inches, for a vertical orientation. If you’re tired of the rectangle, go with a square business card, making both the height and width the same, and watch how this subtle change stands out. For a small business card size that makes a big impact try these business card dimensions: 2.75” x 1.125”. These small cards are perfect to use at networking events and can also work as promotional coupons inside packages sent out to customers.
Business card graphics
When designing your business card, it’s important to feature imagery specific to your industry. You can choose applicable backgrounds, add graphics, your logo, even your photograph, but you must pay attention to the pixel count on all images. The measurement of a pixel (pixels per inch) depends on the resolution of your digital file, and quality printing typically requires 300 ppi. At this resolution, your file should measure 1125 pixels wide x 675 pixels tall, which includes a 38 pixel bleed area on each side (1/8”). A bleed area is an excess portion of ink that is trimmed off during printing before your business card is complete. Due to trimming, it is best to avoid printing text next to the edge of your business card. Leave at least a 1/16” safe space margin to allow for slight variances in cutting.
Business card fonts
When choosing a typeface for your business card, go with Serif or Sans Serif fonts. Scripts or decorative fonts can be difficult to read in smaller sizes. While some fonts can be legible at relatively low sizes, as a general rule, it is best not to set your text to a point size less than 6. If your design features white text on a dark background, you should probably lean toward a larger point size – typically no less than 8pt.
A good sturdy paper stock is another essential component to creating a quality business card. You can choose a thick matte stock or something with a high gloss finish to make your info really shine.
Business card templates
Business cards can be designed in Microsoft Word, though it is not recommended. While Microsoft Word is great for creating text-heavy files, the tools for this type of project can be rudimentary. Adobe Photoshop is a more advanced designing alternative, but can oftentimes be quite complicated for untrained users. Some printing companies will offer design tools on their website. 123Print offers a highly versatile, yet easy-to-use system, called visual canvas. Here, customers can customize the perfect promotional tool for their business, using tailored recommendations that guarantee a superior business card.
A universal tool
While business card preferences may vary, the usefulness of this print marketing medium is universal. There is nothing dated about a professional exchange of information and the relationships that a business card helps build.