Do you remember the classic scene from American Psycho for business cards? In it, Patrick Bateman has a business card show down with his coworkers, and realizes that a friend’s card is better than his because of its stylish superiority.
There’s a grain of truth in that scene. The truth is that business cards are the last stand between a relationship and obscurity.
In some cases, the business card is the only piece of information someone has from you. It’s the last memory of your encounter. If you have a strong beginning, make sure you have a strong finish with a card that avoids these five common mistakes.
The Top Five Business Card Mistakes
Here are some of the top mistakes that I see in business cards that get passed around.
Mistake #1. Your Card Is The Wrong Size
If you’re out meeting people at events, you’re probably like me and have a massive pile of business cards lying around. While it may seem unique to sport uniquely tiny, oversized, or odd-shaped business cards, they are a big annoyance.
The reason is that they don’t store well and are hard to organize. Imagine trying to organize hundreds of business cards and having a few that just don’t fit. They keep your card boxes from closing, the small slip out stacks, and they can be hard to wrap a rubber band around without creating an odd-sized mess.
Don’t hand out abnormally sized cards unless you want to increase the chances they’ll end up in the trash can.
The exception for this is if you’re in a design or creative industry, where very unusual cards are a real reflection of your brand. If you want to distinguish yourself, try a visually distinctive design, an unusual paper, or even different types of printing like letterpress or engraving.
Mistake #2. Remind Me Who You Are Again?
Often during a meeting, business cards are exchanged. I hand you a card, and you hand me a card. After that unless we have a specific follow up exchange, this may be the last time that we have an interaction.
The question is- when will I look at that card again? And what will I do with the card? Think of your business card as an advertisement that reminds the person of who you are and what your business offers. Make sure your card is more than a pretty design and a name.
Effective business cards should convey what your business does AND your unique differentiator on the card.
Mistake #3. Give Me The Details To Learn More
A common mistake is to forget to give people the details about who you are on your business card.
You might have a preference on whether you’d like to communicate by phone or email. Make it easy for people to communicate with you by emphasizing your preferred communication type on your card.
The business card of today can contain more than your phone and email, but also pointers on how they can find out more about you.
Have you included your website URL if they want to get in touch? If you’re interested in networking, have you included your LinkedIn or your Twitter alias?
Mistake #4. Poor Quality Cards
Getting your card printed is inexpensive, especially if you order them through the many online printing businesses. When you get your cards made, make sure that they are a high quality print that shows that you and your business are professional.
Don’t use one of those kits to print your cards at home. Why not? The ink on your printer can make the letters bleed, the paper tends to be low-quality, and tearing the cards apart often leaves a telltale fuzz along the card edges instead of a clean cut. In addition to this, make sure you choose a good online printer that prints cards up to standard.
Project professionalism. Make sure you have high-quality cards with crisp printing, clean cut, and high-quality paper.
Mistake #5. Projecting The Wrong Image
If you were trying to hire a circus clown for a kid’s birthday party, and he handed you a very formal and serious looking business card, would you find it strange?
Your business card design should match the brand that you’re trying to create with your business. Think about it in the context of who your customers are and what type of image you’re trying to project. Are you trying to inspire trust? Do you want them to think you’re creative? Design can be a powerful tool for expressing that and reinforcing the message you’re trying to get across.
Your business card design should reflect and enhance the image you’re trying to project for your business.
By guest contributor, Ada Chen Rekhi.
Ada Chen Rekhi is head of user growth for Connected, a company which provides contact management without the work for busy professionals. She can be found on Twitter at @adachen.