Just like your photograph gives people a first impression of you, so does your business card.
For the vast majority of you out there this post will not be of any use. I’m “hoping” that 99% of the people who read this already realize what a horrible idea print at home business cards are. They scream “unprofessional” at the top of their lungs. I seriously think it’s better to scribble your contact information on a piece of paper (or the back of their own business card) when you are talking to someone than hand them a print at home business card. Saying “sorry, I ran out” is a much less embarrassing choice then hand them something you printed at home – seriously.
I recently went to a networking event. As you would have expected I met a lot of people and exchanged a lot of cards. Unless a card is particularly creative or different, I usually don’t comment on it. I just politely put it in my pocket and continue on with my conversation with the owner of that card.
The next day I was going over the cards I collected and one particular card stood out loud and clear….and not in a good way! It was a home printed card that was cut crooked and had terrible printing. It actually extended past the perforation lines so you could tear away about a centimeter of the card – but that was not by design. It was literally one of the worst business cards I have ever seen in 27 year of business…possibly taking top prize.
Now I know starting a business can be expensive. Everything is costing you money. However there are a few things you should never skimp on.
#1 Your promotional business portraits
#2 Your business cards
The thing is that you can get decent looking business cards done up for you very inexpensively if you don’t mind using a generic template (and some of them can look rather nice – if not creative). Of course it’s always better to have a graphic designer create your cards and letterheads for you for a true professional and consistent look. Failing that, going to any printer will allow them to come up with something for you at a minimal cost. Lower costing still are countless online options that have hundreds of templates for you to choose from and can ship you your new business cards in a few days and you have something that you are not embarrassed to hand out. Or if you are creative and can design a nice card yourself, there are plenty of options (locally as well as internet based) that will take your design, print it on different options of stock and get them to you in time for your next networking event or business meeting. What you should never do however, under any circumstances is use any of the “print at home” options. I design all my own marketing material (other than my logo itself). I just checked online with the printer I use. If you have the ability to design the card yourself in one of their acceptable file formats (you must upload print ready files – they will not do anything to the file other than print) you can get 1000 business card delivered to your door starting for as little as less than CDN$30 (before tax). The print at home business card “package” is probably going to cost you that after you calculate all your wasted ink anyways. Much more when you calculate your time correcting all your mistakes, trying not to cut them too crooked, etc.
Whomever designs your business cards, here’s a few simple things to consider. Some should be obvious, others not so much:
- Clean & simple is much better than cluttered.
- Two sided cards look classier than single sided cards
- Don’t cheap out on the card stock. people react to tactile sensations and an expensive feeling card in the hand makes a better impression.
- Be creative. Check the internet for what I mean. Even something as simple as a folded card stands out more then flat ones.
- Always put your area code with you phone number
- If you have a toll free number of course list it
- Remember to list your website
- Watch your colours – black text on a blue background doesn’t make for easy reading (especially in poor light)
- Pay the extra money to get the edges trimmed smooth if they give you that option
- Watch your colours – again. Not every colour reproduces in CMYK as you see it (particularly blues)
As I said earlier, I’m hoping that 99% of you who read this didn’t get anything out of this post. Well, maybe you got a few tips in the last section, but I’m hoping that the vast majority of you don’t use the do-it-yourself business card kits. If you are one of the 1% don’t worry, there is still hope! As they say the first step is admitting you have a problem. Go grab your entire stack of cards, along with any of the sheets you still have left un-used….and thrown everything in the garbage (recycle bin preferably). Next do a search for graphic designers or look for online printing options if you don’t mind using a design a million other people out there already have. You can contact me and I can design something for you…but please, for your own business sake ask a loved one to smack you if you ever purchase a print at home business card kit from the stationary store every again!