How to Screw Up a Business Card
Is there anything worse than a bad business card? Business cards can be “bad” for lots of different reasons, but does the particular reason for a business card’s awfulness really matter?
A bad business card means less interest in you and your business and makes you and your interests look sloppy and disinterested. Since a business card is a relatively easy thing to put together, making a mistake or putting out a terrible, unattractive, or misprinted business card says a lot about your skills.
Here are some of the most common ways that people screw up their business cards.
Leave Important Information Off
How many times have you been handed a business card that didn’t give sufficient information? Business cards that lack critical information are worthless, wastes of money and time, and the most likely cards to be ignored or thrown away.
Your business card should have your name, the name of your business, your contact information (including physical and web address), and maybe a business logo if you have an attractive one to add.
Make sure your business card contains a phone number where you or someone at your place of business can be reached during normal business hours. It should also have a valid email address, if you want to be contacted by potential customers via email.
Add Too Much Information
Even worse than a business card without vital pieces of contact info are those overly busy, tacky looking business cards so stuffed with information and details that you can’t make heads or tails of the card itself.
There’s no real need to put a “mission statement” or multiple phone numbers and email addresses on your business card. A recent trend in business cards has been to put not just one person’s name, but the names of the entire executive staff. Who cares what your bosses name and his bosses name are . . . this is your business card. A good website URL can clear up any questions your customers may have about the names and roles of the businessmen above you in the pecking order.
Too much information makes it look like you and your business are unorganized or heavy-handed, and cards that are stuffed with too many details are just as likely to be tossed out with yesterday’s garbage as cards that have too little information and too few details.
Print Incorrect Details
Putting incorrect information on your business card isn’t as big of a problem as handing out a business card with a bad design—if you catch the error and reprint the cards before handing them out. Sure, it adds cost and is wasteful to have to reprint business cards, but if you catch the mistakes in time, you can avoid embarrassing yourself and your business.
Now that everyone has an email address and website URL on their business card, it is easier than ever to put bad information on business cards. It can be hard to “spell check” a URL or email address, and a single incorrect symbol, number, or letter in an email address or URL can frustrate your potential customers and have them wondering about the legitimacy of your business.
That’s why your business card should be checked top to bottom, gone over with a fine tooth comb by more than one person to check for mistakes. Type in the URL of your website symbol by symbol directly from your business card the same way your customers will. Otherwise you run the risk of handing out bad info.
Get Too Gimmicky
There are sometimes good reasons for business card gimmicks, but most of the time a straightforward business card is best. Gimmicky business cards work best in small runs—print ten or twenty unusual cards to keep around the office for special clients or customers you think would get a kick out of these goofy cards. You should always have a more traditional business card to back up a business card built around a gimmick.
A business card gimmick can help certain people remember you or your business, but they often make it more difficult for a customer to keep track of your card. I knew a guy who had a business card designed that contained tiny seeds that (if watered) grew little watercress seedlings out of the top of the card. A nice gimmick, but pretty difficult to keep in a business card organizer wouldn’t you say?
Print Too Few Cards
One of the classic business card mistakes is simply not printing enough business cards. If you’ve spent lots of time and effort putting together your business card, running out during a meeting or on a lengthy business trip is a real amateur mistake, and is basically an invitation to your competition to step in and hand out their own cards in your place.
If you find that you usually print too few business cards, there’s a simple way to avoid this mistake in the future. Find a business card printer that charges less per card. Simplify your design to reduce costs and print three times as many cards as you think you’ll need. There’s just no reason to not have a business card every time you need one.
If you want your customers to question the ability of you or your business to get the job done, go ahead and make any of the above mistakes. Business cards can be designed and printed from pretty much any computer these days, and any idiot can use a business card template or printing service to put together a solid business card.
Avoid the above mistakes to avoid losing business and looking like a fool. Printing good business cards is easy enough if you approach the task with a little care.
A good way to make sure you have a GOOD business card is to have criteria or standards for your company. Look at this page for an example of guidelines for business cards.