Are Your Business Cards Killing Your Career?

I wish I could say I’ve seen my last card from Kinko’s, but truth is, I expect people will keep using the quick and cheap method. I know money can be a problem, especially if you’re just starting out in business or going through a rough patch financially. But what most people don’t realize is how much the perception of a business card matters. We might wish we lived in a world where our expertise and enthusiasm were most important, but for whatever it’s worth, people start sizing you up from the minute you hand them a card.

So to help you make a better first impression, here are some tips for a better business card:

1) Don’t be so quick to save money. I wouldn’t let a high school kid design my logo and card layout. Get someone with experience and a sense of professionalism. Find a graphic designer who knows what’s working today, and get their advice.

2) Be appropriate to you business. Your picture on the card might work if you’re selling real estate, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a lawyer. Get a sense of the style of other professionals in your particular business.

3) Be careful with creativity. Your purpose is to convey important information, not use it as a demo reel or portfolio. Don’t distract from the essential purpose.

4) PLEASE make it normal size! I use a business card holder and when I get a square, round, or other abnormal card it doesn’t make a positive impression. If it doesn’t fit my holder, I usually toss it in the trash.

5) Don’t forget the backside. More information, a logo, a compelling visual, a mission statement – use the back of the card and don’t waste the real estate.

6) Stretch a little when it comes to your title or qualifications. Be honest, but don’t be modest. Make sure you have an impressive title, and shoot high. For your particular business, it might also be important to include a graduate degree if you have one.

7) Buy a domain name for you or your company. A Yahoo, Google, or Hotmail email address doesn’t make a strong impression – because every high school kid in America has one of those. A domain name is only about $10-$20 a year from a source like, so purchase you or your company’s name, or at least something that is unique and expresses your brand identity.

8) Don’t use the same card for everything. If you freelance on the side, make a specific card for that business. Use specific information for each role or job you have, and use those cards appropriately.

Any other good suggestions to add?

Photo by Anomaly on Unsplash

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  1. Phil, this is definitely something people don’t spend enough time thinking about. I have a few thoughts of my own from some personal experience and research that I have done.

    1. I would consider letting a High School kid design your card. I understand Phil is saying not to let a copy center do it, and I agree. But you may already know a student with tremendous skill and creativity who already knows a thing or two more about what works than we do (don’t underestimate the next generation.)

    3. Be careful, but… Check this card out – It’s been a year ago that I found that and still haven’t forgotten it.

    4. Normal size doesn’t mean it has to be normal (see above).

    5. Don’t be too quick to use up all the white space. Many people need somewhere to write on a business card. It can also become quickly cluttered and detract from your purpose.

    6. This must be a generational thing, cultural thing, or the type of business you are in (or all of the above). Some people care about letters and degrees. Others don’t. In the ministry in my part of the country, I would look like an elitist if I did that. Know your audience.

    7. If you don’t already have a site, I would recommend Microsoft. They provide small business with a free website, domain name, and e-mail addresses. Mine is . Not for everybody, but chances are that if you don’t have one yet for your business, this is something to consider. You can e-mail me at if you want more info (I’m not interested in spamming for them).

  2. Something I recently encountered comes to mind…

    PLEASE think through to the follow-up step… Have an equally professional response planned when you are actually contacted as a result of your card.

    Therefore, if they call you, don't have an inapproriate message on your voice mail as the next thing they hear from you, otherewise you won't hear from them again. Humor is subjective. What may sound witty to you may come off as utterly asinine to another.   

  3. This is a great post Phil.

    I just had some business cards made up specifically related to my book. People really like them. In the past I made my cards myself to save money. But you can really NOTICE the difference. And some close friends pulled me aside and told me I needed to get new cards. So I finally did.

    I used Vistaprint, but paid for their premium package with a custom design. I will admit – you talked about not wanting to see another Kinkos-made card. I don’t want to see another Vistaprint “free” card. It’s great that you can get the cards for FREE, but so many people have them. You would not believe how many “free” cards I receive from people that I meet! The cards all look the same. This is why I chose to spend the extra money for something that is a little more unique.

    You know what, I just realized that I didn’t give you one when we met at Biola. That was dumb on my part. lol. I’ll make sure to get it to you.

    Now I’m going to get a set of cards made up for my writing and consulting business.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  4. This is a great post.  I am extremely big on maximizing your "touchpoints"– things that represent you, your company, or your church that a potential customer, client, church member or individual that needs Christ may experience for the first time (see, feel, smell, hear).
    Here's the ultimate test. If one were to judge you or your organization on your card, how would it fare?  Let's say it gets placed on a table in a crowded venue. If your card exudes quality, clarity and a sense of higher purpose–wouldn't that someone who is looking for what you provide– think twice about tossing it aside?
    So fine is that thread– so make it a strong one! We try to convince our clients to run away from the cheap, glossy, digital all-color print jobs, and to select paper, weight, texture and color that reflects the personality of their organization.

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