And the 8 things you should know about your business card design…

But first – Efficiency.

Not every aspect of business is glamourous. There are countless tasks that must be done in order to grow your business.

But, when things get busy, we tend to leave some tasks on the “I’ll get to it” list.

It’s okay, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over those tasks, rather, see them and tackle them.

Or… find someone to tackle them…

That’s me, Yo-Of-All-Trades!

So, when Pam Slim showed me her stack of neglected business cards with one of those looks… the one that says, “I know this doesn’t look fun, you might not want to deal with it, but will you???”, I waved off all doubt. I mean, how could I resist? Glamour isn’t my thing.

My jam is all about honoring all the bits of a business.

Sometimes that means stacks of business cards (yes there were several stacks) and sometimes that means mopping the floor (yes, I did that for years at my own business).

I dug into the stacks of business cards starting with the big sort.

Efficiency step one was sorting to determine how we wanted to deal with all the cards. My initial sorting pass was to simply create a local and non-local separation. Sorting gave us time to think about what we wanted to do once all the cards were entered.

The next step was beginning the process of entering the cards. There’s no one perfect way to tackle a task like this but I wanted to make the task efficient. Entering each card by hand meant I could look at each and determine what that card needed. That process led to understanding that we needed to sort for a few more things.

With help from Chris Lee of Purple CRM, a tag was created for all the cards that would start an automatic action once the card was entered. For some of the cards, we needed a new tag, and for other cards, we needed a different set of actions.

In order to get them entered quickly, I created a simple entry form that had only the critical bits of info I needed to add, this shaved off quite a bit of time from using the standard entry form.

Efficiency step two was doing the task, figuring out what steps to remove from the process, and creating my own entry form to speed up the task.

After the first 170 cards, I calculated how much time I would need to get them all entered. Yes, Infusionsoft has an app for entering business cards via photo, but I didn’t feel it would be any less time consuming, and not using the app let me deal with problems as they came up.

Efficiency step three was all about focus. I got the screen and keyboard positioned for maximum comfort and speed. I put the earbuds on and started some music. I figured out where to place the ‘to enter’ stack of cards and the ‘entered’ stack, again, to create an efficient and quick process.

Then, I dug in.

BUT… THAT’s not the end of the story…

As I cranked through each entry, I started to make a mental list of all the things I was seeing.

I discovered that business card design and layout is important.

And also… lots of business cards are kind of… well… suck-a-licious. (Was that kind enough?)

PEOPLE, people, people… Your business cards matter!

Everyone is different, and I don’t necessarily believe that design is a priority factor but for some people design matters. Pam is one of those people, she really does take the time to notice design while I notice information.

That means that there’s a subjective nature to how others see our business cards. BUT even given the subjective part, there are a few things we agreed make for a great business card. And, after looking at 800 of them, I can tell you exactly what those things are.

8 Reasons to Review Your Business Card… and Fix It!

After looking through all those business cards and compiling my list, I decided to see what Pam thought about some of the items in my list. Here’s what I ended up with, so strap in people, here we go!

1 – Magnifying Glass:

Okay so I’m no spring chick (I don’t even know what a spring chick is) but I’m also not Methuselah. So, if I need to whip out a magnifying glass to read the information on your business card… you’ve got a problem. Mostly because I don’t carry a magnifying glass, and if your card is too hard to read… I won’t.

Of course, for this particular project… I had no choice.

I took my glasses off, put them on, shifted for more light, squinted… you get the idea – and even then there were cards with text I couldn’t read.

Text must be readable, not just in terms of size, but also font style. Choose a font that’s easy to read. And, yes, size really does matter when it comes to business cards. Don’t use a super small font unless your goal is to get me to find that particular information useless… and if that IS your goal… don’t include the info on your card in the first place! (I’m not yelling…)

2 – Where are you?

Location, location, location.

Now, having your business location address on your card is something I asked Pam about and, it turns out, we had different ideas about it.

My feeling is that you should include a city and state but that a physical address isn’t necessary.

Pam, on the other hand, felt that having an address was important, especially when we want to have the information to send something by mail. And, in Pam’s case, there were  people who wanted books sent to them but their card had no address to send the book to… oppsie. Yeah.

The question becomes… how much time will we spend trying to find a viable physical address to mail the book?

We came to the conclusion that number 8 on the list will help you decide whether or not you should include it. (Yes, I’m making you wait.)

For our purposes, I at least wanted to know if the business was local or not local and a telephone number area code isn’t always a reflection of location. With Pam offering free local events, I wanted to make sure that local peeps would get notification, if they wanted it, of when events might be happening.

Whether you do the whole address or just the city/state, use something. It matters.

If I learn from collected business cards at a conference that you live in my city, I’m more likely to reach out and suggest coffee.

If you have a bricks-n-mortar location, then you absolutely need to include your address! You might be thinking “duh” right about now, but, yes, I looked at cards for physical places that had no address. Not lying.

Location matters, get it on your business card!

3 – How can I call you?

Once upon a time, business cards were all about the phone number. I mean why else have a business card if not to tell someone how to call with you?

But, I sorted countless cards with no phone number. I realize that digital communication has taken over, but a phone number is still something I believe is critical.

Even if you don’t answer the phone, I can at least leave a voicemail.

If you are under the impression that if you include a phone number,  you’ll be fielding call after call, well, the truth is most people don’t call. And if they do, be grateful you just might have a new client.

If you feel the need to continue to be protective or private, consider Google voice. You can easily create a new phone number that forwards to your phone and allows you to screen calls.

Finally, a card without a phone number raises questions of credibility. I wondered, over and over, why I would trust someone I couldn’t call…

Get your phone number on your card.

4 – Ummm Yeah, you need an email address…

I was surprised by cards without a phone number, and even though we weren’t entering phone numbers at this stage, I found it odd.

But I was floored when I came across cards without an email address.

Now, these business cards were not those of say Costco or Discount Tire… these were business cards of small business owners and solopreneurs.

If you’re a big retail company, I can understand not including an email, but even cards from people working in those large companies included an email address.

It should go without saying that you need an email address on your business card… but apparently not… so here goes: “You Need An Email Address On Your Business Card.”

There, I’ve said it!

I’ve read that your email address should include your website domain name like mine instead of I don’t agree. I don’t think that credibility is lost if you choose to use an email service for your email.

I will say that when I saw several email addresses ending in I had a ‘raised eyebrow’ moment but ultimately this is about connecting. So if you have an email address, as long as it’s not too long or confusing, then use it.

If you have a small bricks-n-mortar business, you are not excused from including an email address. Prospective clients may want to reach out via email. Vendors may want to reach out as well and if you’ve no email address they will call instead.

Email address… it simply makes sense, so include one.

5 – Sure, social media is important, but what I really want to know is….

Okay, sooooooo, social media addresses. Wow. Really.

Pam and I were a bit at odds about including them on a card. I felt like it wasn’t necessary and Pam felt it was.

Now, I personally don’t connect via social media immediately but there are some folks who want to. So I’m going to defer to number 8 on our list. (You’ll get there in a minute or two).

Meanwhile, when it comes to social media, include those addresses that make sense. Give consideration to the amount of space you’ve got on your card to include all information.

Social media addresses are not a replacement for email or a phone number, they should be secondary to the more primary contact information on your business card.

Social media is a means of following someone or learning about them via various platforms or even generic connecting. But a business card isn’t about superficial connecting, it’s about business connecting. And, when it comes to business communication, email and phone are still the primary methods for connection.

6 – Enough to be interesting… too much makes my head hurt.

There are two sides to every business card… so use them!

The more information you include, the more crowded that information can become.

Using a smaller font is one method of making more space on your card. I saw several cards that used this method so they could include lots more information. The problem is… I literally needed a magnifying glass. (See 1 above).

Here’s the thing… too much information really does make my head hurt. Sometimes just trying to find an email address on a card took several flips of a card.

Whether it was too small a font, too fancy a font, white text on an image, dark text over an image, or just too much information, I found myself spending extra time on more than a few cards trying to find primary contact information.

(I may now have the start of cataracts…)

Design matters! Make sure the text is clear and readable. Think about information layout for ease of reading.

Most business owners aren’t looking to get into graphic design. So have someone review your mock-up before sending your design in for printing.

Images are great but text over images isn’t so great. It’s simply hard to read. So use one side for your image or design and then keep things clean and clear on the other side.

Sure there are Photoshop techniques you can use to make text more readable over an image but this isn’t a Photoshop class… it’s a blog post…

7 – Your picture on the front… and the back too?

Ummmmmm, yes, it happened.

I saw more than one card where the card owner included a full side image of themselves and then on the opposite side, another image of themselves with contact information.

Perhaps those card owners thought that in the time it took me to flip front to back I might actually forget what they looked like. Yeah, that must be it…

And, well, let me just say this, if you are thinking about using an image of yourself on both sides of the card… don’t.

We can remember from front flip to back. Really. I promise.

There really isn’t more for me to say on this one…

8 – Your audience… the dictator.

Ultimately, Pam and I agreed on one critical piece of business card strategy… let your audience help you.

I’ve referred to this – the number 8 item – in a couple of the tips above because when we break it all down, your audience matters. (And also I was hoping you’d keep reading…)

The information you include and how you include it will depend on what your prospective clients expect to see. If you are a social media expert, then I would expect to see your various social media addresses. If you are an organic farmer who heads out to local farmer’s markets, then I don’t expect to see 4 different social media addresses.

The same applies for location. If you have a bricks-n-mortar business, then you should include a complete physical address. If you are a consultant who travels all over, it may only be necessary to include your city and state or nothing at all.

Design is another area where your audience affects your choices. I would expect an artist to include an image of some work, but an engineering consultant may need only a minimalistic looking card with just a logo and contact information.

For clues about what works and what doesn’t, check out the business cards of others in your industry.

Sometimes it makes sense to “Wow” someone with your card, other times it does not.

We aren’t business card experts; we just play them on TV…

The truth is neither Pam or I are business card design experts, if there is such a thing. But we are business owners who handle business cards from others regularly.

And, while we each have our own ideas of what works and what doesn’t, we definitely agree that who you design your card for matters, along with the purpose of your business card.

The primary purpose of any business card is that of communicating methods of connecting.

Beyond that, the rest becomes subjective based upon audience.

Keep in mind that some best practices fall into the very necessary, like font size, readability, layout, and ways to connect.

I actually saw a business card from a social media expert with one full side of social media icons. Just the pictures. No social media addresses. Just the icons, different sizes, some blurry. The other side had a picture of the person with an email address, no phone number.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say… thumbs down on that card design.

(No images of actual business cards were used… to protect the innocent.)

Long-time business owner and entrepreneur, Yolanda brings a unique perspective to building and growing small businesses. Talk with me for 30-minutes, Free, no strings attached! Click here!
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Showing 3 comments
  • Jennifer Lyle

    What a treasure trove of marketing, admin and business management information in this article!! And it’s fun to read, too! Thanks Yolanda. I’d love to see a part two that dives into complete step by step detail of your card-entering process in the same way that you parse through your 8 steps of business card analysis.

    Both topics – processing business cards and other admin tasks and the creation of those business cards – are examples of necessary business topics that are ignored and/or glossed over. And yet, as you wrote so eloquently “honoring all the bits of a business”


  • Riley

    Very interesting article!

    I’ve recently stopped using business cards altogether. It started off as a temporary cost-cutting exercise and then evolved into a project to go 100% paperless.

    I’m in the middle of writing an article that explains all of my reasons for dropping business cards and addresses whether or not they’re still relevant in a digital age.

    What do you think? Do we still need business cards?

    • yolanda

      Hi Riley! Thanks for stopping by.

      Actually, I think it totally depends on the type of business. Given the number of business cards I actually hand out… I could certainly do without them! Younger people simply share info digitally and there are lots of apps out there to do that. Still, it’s nice to have one when asked. I look forward to your article!

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