Everyone knows at least one person who hands out business cards like snowflakes. At work, home, church, company picnics, family reunions, and even movie theaters, these are the people who “work a crowd” and try to drum up business in places most people wouldn’t think of. Their entrepreneurial spirit is obviously alive and well, but does this actually work? The honest answer is both yes and no. A well-designed, clearly printed business card can be a great way to advertise a business or a complete flop when it comes to attracting clientele. Here are seven common misconceptions about business cards that can help you make wise decisions when you get your next batch!
1) Less is more.
A business card serves only one intended function: To provide your customers and clients with contact and company information. This doesn’t mean your company motto should take up fifteen lines of eight-point print. This font is too small to be read properly and can result in misdials, incorrectly input Web addresses, and frustration for your clientele. A good business card design gives the basic information and a line or two of text, or “blurb,” about your business. “Serving Northern California Since 1997″ is a good, if plain, blurb. “Northern California’s Source For RV Rentals, Jet Skis, and Luxury Sport Craft” is not because it’s wordy and tries to convey too much. You need to be able to pack a lot of information onto your card, so how you arrange the information makes a big difference. If you’re in doubt, remember Oscar Wilde’s maxim that “Brevity is the soul of wit!”
2) Pick a font that stands out!
While this is true to some degree, if you choose a font like German Gothic Script, your cards may come out appearing muddled and hard to read. Most printers and copy shops offer these fonts as monograms, such as the letter “J.” Monogramming is an excellent visual shorthand, but for the primary and all-important contact information, you should stick with fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, or Book Antiqua. All of these fonts are relatively easy to read, minimizing confusion and allowing your customers to reach you more quickly.
3) Go Big Or Go Home!
There are certain practical aspects to this, but size really does matter. Too little and too big are just as bad. Sure, your number is easy to read if you put it in 20pt type, but this usually won’t leave much, if any, room for the other crucial information your business card is going to need to distinguish it from the other four hundred fifty seven in your customer’s Rolodex. Of course, if you’re trying to fit the entire collected works of Charles Dickens onto one side of one business card, the print is going to be much too small to be practical either. A good balance is 10pt to 14pt, depending on whether you have a logo or other information on your card.
4) A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words
This is another one of those myths with a certain basis in fact. A visually attractive business card can stand out from your competition and draw your customer’s interest and attention. The tradeoff with incorporating an image onto a business card is that you really don’t want to add text over the top of the image. This can make your contact information difficult to read. Many print shops also charge extra to include pictures on your run of cards, an important consideration when you’re paying out of pocket for your cards.
5) Heavy Hitters Use Heavy Stock!
We all know the kind of showoff who shows up at the convention, trade show, or exposition with laminated business cards printed on imported Egyptian papyrus or Lebanese parchment. While heavier card stock is generally more durable, the heavier you go, the more expensive your order is going to be. Besides, this is the kind of conspicuous display that causes gossip about leased luxury vehicles and people who work at the country club to help offset their membership dues. Basic card stock is perfectly serviceable, retains ink and color well, and doesn’t subconsciously insult your target audience.
6) Opposing colors give better contrast.
This is a flat-out myth. Colors that oppose each other on the color wheel, such as red and blue or purple and yellow, certainly do contrast, but they’re not visually appealing. If the base color of your card is dark, a light color that complements it looks better and is more aesthetically pleasing to the normal human eye. Black coordinates with just about everything, as does white, but the best way to be sure you’ve got a good design is to ask five people what they think. If one of them likes it and the other four either look unsure or voice a negative, you’ll want to make adjustments.
7) There’s no bad place to give out business cards.
While this is technically true, you may leave yourself open to jokes or ridicule. If you’ve ever walked into a restroom, seen a bunch of business cards stuck into the mirror, and thought “Really?!” then you already know one place that isn’t appropriate. Too many people these days try to work and boost business every waking hour of their day, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The thing to remember is that there’s also a time to turn it off for the day.
When choosing the right business card design, simple is almost always better. Remember, the more optical clutter you give prospective customers to wade through, the more likely it is that they’ll just call “Bob Smith,” whose cards aren’t flashy, but certainly readable! If you’re not sure what a good design for your business is, your local copy shop or printer can give you some excellent suggestions. Many even have a graphic designer on staff to help you create a logo or graphic that will resonate with your clients. Having a great business card means a great public face!