On Business Cards

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How to wield your business card (and more importantly someone else’s) like a pro.

Is the business card an irrelevant, outdated waste of precious paper?

I’ve seen some say it is. An archaic communication tool that is surplus to requirements. Because the internet.

For some professions and for employees of large companies that may be true. There is probably an unused stack of cards with your name on, gathering dust on your desk.

But for business owners and self-employed people, if done right, they are an indispensable tool.

Proudly clutching my dented metal card holder in one hand I argue that business cards are very much alive and well.


A double-edged sword

I see the business card as having two main purposes. The obvious one; A contact card and the secondary benefit; print marketing. In fact, I probably use them more for the latter.

LinkedIn does make it easier to contact people after all and even after I’ve given people my card, I often find they ask for my contact details later anyway. So, the card clearly wasn’t that useful to them!

As a way of showing off your brand however business cards are indispensable.

How often do you get the chance to shove a piece of marketing material into someone’s hand and they be totally unperturbed by it? Not only will they take it off your hands they will most likely look at it.

If it’s a good card, they will really look at it. Sure, most people aren’t going to stare in wonder at it for hours, but it may well stick in their memory and if it’s coherent with the rest of your brand, that’s only going to help people to identify you in the future.

The Goodfellow Content business cards.

The Goodfellow Content business cards.


New card. Whaddya think?

Without sounding too much like Christian Bale’s suited serial killer in American Psycho, I’m actually pretty chuffed with my cards and quite enjoy handing them out. I find that people notice my bright, bold design, and occasionally compliment them.

When it came to designing my cards it seemed a no-brainer to make sure they stood out.

You can make your card stand out in a number of ways. Having a good design is important but if you’re willing to spend a bit more on them, you can use different materials, shapes or textures to make them more unique.

There are pleeeenty of resources out there on how to make your business card stand out, so I won’t waffle on about that. Google ‘How to make your business card stand out’ and you should get what you’re looking for. No need to thank me for the recommendation.

I do have a few opinions on this below however, so read that first for consideration.

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Your card, Sir?

Sure, there’s no guarantee that the person you’ve given your card to will give it a second look. But that doesn’t matter.

Possibly the best reason for having a business card is because it gives you an opportunity to ask for theirs.

And that’s where the real value lies for massaging leads and making sales. By exchanging cards, you now have a direct route to that person’s inbox and even their phone if you’re feeling particularly ballsy. Often these details aren’t as prevalent online so this is a way of contacting them directly.

The follow up is where you can work your magic, expand on the short 5 minute or 5 second chat you’ve already had and give them some real info about what value you can offer them. Don’t wait for them to contact you. Make the first move.

Digitise that.

Of course, now you have a big stack of cards with other people’s names on, gathering dust on your desk. Fear not, there is a way of making this pile go away whilst still maintaining those contact details.

I use an app called Adobe Scan which is free to use and is a great way of uploading all that information. You can scan any documents with the app and it’s pretty responsive at locating the card and creating a pdf of it.

It then gives you the option of creating a contact from the information on the pdf. This has a range of results which usually depends on the readability of the card but can be a good way of saving contacts in your phone.

Then you can recycle all the physical cards!

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Now I said I was going to offer some opinions on a few things that work or don’t work…

Hey! Hey! Scan me!

Putting QR codes on business cards doesn’t really do it for me. Especially if that’s all you’ve got on there.

They take up a lot of space and although they theoretically are a way of drawing people into your funnel, I’m just not convinced they’re going to be that effective. You’re banking on someone having enough curiosity to pull out their phone, open a QR code reader app (if they have one) and scan the card to find well… I don’t know. Have you explained what it is they will find?

If you’re going to have one there needs to at least be a reason to scan, like a competition or free resource. Otherwise don’t bother.


And what’s on this si… Oh.

One sided cards are pretty underwhelming. Turning over a card to find a blank side is not only disappointing as it’s a missed opportunity to add more info, but it also screams laziness. It may even put people off working with you.

For not much more money you can add another side which immediately raises the profile of the card. Even if it’s just a logo, that still adds way more value to the card.

And that’s pretty much it! Do you give this much thought to your business card and do you utilise every opportunity given to you by someone else’s card?