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Avoid the Nine Most Common Business Card Mistakes

Your business card is one of your most important marketing tools and for some people the only piece of marketing they use to promote their business. One of the first things you do when you meet a new person you are doing business with (or want to do business with) is exchange business cards.

So, your business cards forms part of your first impression and it’s important to get it right.

Have you ever gotten a compliment on your business card? Is it something that you’re proud of? Does it simply and clearly identify just what your business does, and why people should do business with you? Is it visually appealing?


If you answered no to one or more of these questions, it just may be time for you to update your business card.


Because a business card is one of the most important and cost-effective marketing tools a business can have, especially for businesses just starting out. And yet, too often it’s a missed opportunity to make a great impression. A powerful and well-designed business card can effectively promote your business. There’s a good chance that if the look and quality of your card is shoddy or unprofessional, it may be thrown away.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to come up with a good business card. The truth is — with a little planning and thoughtful consideration — you too can have a business card that will draw rave reviews and future clients.

There are a number of common mistakes businesspeople make when it comes to their own business cards. Avoid these and you will be well on your way to having a card that is noticeably appealing and an effective marketing tool.

Mistake #1: Having a Card that Blends in with All the Rest

The great majority of business cards out there leave no real impression and soon become a faint memory. Leave someone with a card that looks great, feels great and clearly defines what your business does — and you and your card won’t soon be forgotten.

There is absolutely no excuse today for an unattractive or unprofessional-looking business card with the printing technologies that are available. These technologies make it easier and more affordable than ever to design a card that will get someone’s attention and at the same time look businesslike and appealing.

Mistake #2: Presentation of a Poor-Quality Card

We’ve all seen “home-made” business cards. Where someone has gone in to the local office supplier purchased the perforated business card sheets and printed them on their home inkjet printer. If you’re a creative person and have the right graphics software at home you may be able to come up with a well designed and good looking card. The problem is when you give this type of card to someone else and they hold the card in their hand: it’s feather-light and you can feel the perforations around the sides which will quickly peel and look dog eared. Inkjet printers are also notoriously inconsistent with quality and the ink tends to smudge, not to mention it’s nearly impossible to get the colours right.

Lesson: Don’t skimp on money when it comes to your business card. You want to have good stock card, print that doesn’t bleed from a drop of water, an embossed logo, and the card should feel substantial and pleasing to the touch.

A poor quality card implies a business that will have poor quality products and services. Rather than attracting business, this type of card would most likely repel prospective customers.

Mistake #3: Having a “Mystery” Business Card

When someone looks at your business card, can they tell immediately what your business does? If not, you’re not likely to get as many calls or referrals.

A business card shouldn’t be a cryptic message that require deciphering and if your business name doesn’t state exactly what you do (eg: Joe’s Mechanical & Automotive Repairs) then you need to make sure the design and information on the card clearly defines the product or service that your business provides. Your card is not just a list of contact details it’s a piece of marketing that should clearly explain what your business does.

Mistake #4: Not Providing a Unique Selling Proposition

Many businesses miss the golden opportunity of utilising their business card to its full marketing potential. Your card should state at least one very powerful reason a customer should do business with you; i.e., An auto service center’s business card may have, “complete automotive repairs” and “all work fully guaranteed.”

Mistake #5: Having the wrong size Card

Common sense dictates the use of the traditional and standard 90x55mm business card for most people. Anything bigger will not fit in wallets or most business card holders. Chances are it will end up being filed in the circular file known as the rubbish bin.

There is a trend towards slimline cards in some industries and these can look good and quite stylish but keep in mind they do not fit well into rolodexes or standard business card holders.

Mistake #6: Print that is too Small

Does your business card have a font size so small that you need to hand out a magnifying glass in order for it to be read? Beware of this practice. You may be able to cram more information onto the card with a small font, but what good is it if people can’t read it? Since 95 percent of the population aged 35 or older need reading glasses, a good guideline is to use a type size no smaller than 7-8 point. Your name point can be a little larger; i.e., 9 point, and the company name usually looks good at about 12-15 point. These guidelines for font size will also depend on the type of font. You should avoid using overly elaborate and curly specialty fonts for contact details as they can be difficult to read.

Mistake #7: A Cluttered Card

An appealing business card does not contain the print content of a small novel. Too much print looks busy and terribly unprofessional: Simple is best. Sort out the information and keep only what’s totally necessary for someone to know your name, your company, what you do, and why they should use you — but don’t skimp on your contact information; you want to be easy to reach.

#8: Inadequate or Poor Use of Color

Spice up your business cards with a little splash of color; you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. Avoid the common mistake of colours that can be hard to read like grey print on a white background; it lacks contrast and the print is difficult to read.

On the flip side, don’t make the mistake of color-overload. Too many colors that don’t complement one another will make the card look busy and will detract from the content of your card.

You also want to make sure the colours on your business card match the rest of your marketing and that you are sending a consistent brand message.

One thing you can do to make your card look a little bit special is the use of metallic ink. A gold, silver or bronze shiny metallic ink is very eye-catching.

Mistake #9: Cards that don’t get Distributed

What good is having a box full of business cards if they’re just sitting there collecting dust? It would serve you and your business better to apply the old axiom, “Use it or lose it.” What can you lose? Business.

Always have a supply of your cards wherever you go. Give them out when appropriate, and while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to give out more than one. Invite people to pass the extras along to others who might need your service. You might be surprised at how often this can result in a referral.

If you’d like to receive a free business card review from one of the talented designers at Burleigh Print, simply email us a copy of your card to artwork@burleighprint.com.au or drop in and see us, we’d be only too happy to provide some free advice on how you can improve your business card. We’ve designed and printed thousands of business cards and we have the creative experience to make your business card really stand out from the crowd.

Content in this article was greatly assisted by Patricia Schaefer from Business Know How.


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