Picture this scenario: You’re at the grocery store, and you run into a potential client for your freelance or virtual assistant business. He expresses interest in contacting you about your services, so you… ask him to pass you his cellphone so you can type your details into his contacts.
Ummm… no, let’s try that again.
You reach into your purse or wallet and hand him a stunning business card. Your potential client reads it, smiles, and says he’ll be in touch shortly.
You’ve just made a lasting, tangible impact. As our world becomes increasingly digital, we still gravitate towards “real things.” David Sax discusses this trend in his book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter.
And how do you ensure that you’re impressing potential clients? Here are three keys that make up a winning business card:
In a small space like a business card, you need to strike a balance between including enough content, but not too much. I’m sure many of us have seen business cards where we almost needed a magnifying glass to read the text. In his article “11 Tips and Tricks for Creating Stunning Business Cards” Igor Ovsyannykov says, “Think carefully about which contact details to include – you need to strike a balance between providing enough points of contact, without making your card look cluttered.”
So, before you create your business card, ask yourself the following questions:
• How do I show who I am?
• How do I communicate my business’s BIG WHY?
• How do I illustrate my services?
• How can my potential client contact me?
• How much of this information needs to be text, and how much can be communicated through images?
Below is an example of a business card created by instructor Lindsay Marsh in our Graphic Design Foundations program.
Some of the elements included are
• Name of business owner
• Business Title
• Phone number
• Email address
• Social Media icons
• Website address
Other elements you may choose to include are
• Your business logo
• Your tagline
• Your service offerings (in words, images, or icons)
This business card from The Stock and Sauce Co. has a cool way of using the back of the card to illustrate its product and highlight the tagline.
Since this company has a physical presence at the Calgary Farmer’s Market, it also includes the physical address on the front of the card. For online business owners, a physical address is usually unnecessary. You may, however, wish to include a P.O. Box address if you anticipate receiving mail from your clients.
The word “comfort” can mean many things. In this case I’m referring to whether a business card fits comfortably into your client’s hand and whether it fits the style of your business.
Here are some ways to make your business card “comfortable”:
Select the right size and shape. In his article “How to design a business card: the ultimate guide,” Matt Ellis shares the following size recommendations for business cards in different parts of the world:
◦ North American Standard: 3.5 × 2 in. (88.9 × 50.8 mm)
◦ European Standard: 3.346 × 2.165 in. (85 × 55 mm)
◦ Oceania Standard: 3.54 × 2.165 in. (90 × 55 mm)
Although you don’t have to limit yourself to these sizes, it’s good to know what the standards are. In any case, knowing your audience is the key. You’ll want to tailor the size and shape to the clients you’d like to attract. For example, do you see them putting business cards in their wallet, their purse, a special holding case, or simply their pocket?
Use your business’s style and branding colors. As with your website, social media, and other channels, your business card should be an authentic representation of your brand.
This business card for Gramma Dee’s Gourmet Snacks echoes the packaging on its gluten-free food products.
Screenshot via https://www.grammadees.com/products
So, as you’re planning your own business card, think about how you can incorporate your individual branding colors, logo, and style. When clients visit your website or social media accounts, they should see a continuity between these channels and your card.
And when your business card fits your brand, it’ll create a sense of familiarity, comfort, and confidence in your services.
So far, we’ve talked about a lot of “shoulds” when designing business cards. Now let’s talk about some “coulds.” As you’re thinking about your virtual business, visualize how you’d define your brand using paper and ink. In addition to different paper stocks, you can get creative with shapes, finishes, and specialty styles.
Here are some options offered by Vistaprint (screenshots via https://www.vistaprint.ca):
MOO offers this MiniCards option.
Screenshot via https://www.moo.com/ca/products/minicards.html
And Jukebox offers this embossed design.
Screenshot via https://www.jukeboxprint.com/embossed-business-cards
But these examples just scratch the surface. Online printing sites offer many more options to choose from.
And you may find inspiration in this recent article by Ryan McCready. It contains an infographic with “The 8 Biggest Graphic Design Trends That Will Dominate 2019.” Some trends that could be applied to business cards are
• “Pops of vivid color”
• “Light & dark color schemes”
• “New colorful minimalism”
• “Dynamic & detailed hand-drawn illustrations”
Depending on your target audience, try something new and creative or stick to simpler, more traditional designs. The choice is up to you. Just make sure that the design accurately reflects your personal and business brand. In an article titled “How to use design to build your personal brand,” the Canva website shares this advice:
“Design is important when building a personal brand because above all the minutiae of imagery, color, type, and layout, ‘designing’ yourself demonstrates that you have considered how to communicate who you are and what you stand for,” says [Marc] Anderson, designer and founder of Rainfall, a design and branding studio that’s produced work for major brands like Chase and Spotify…. “Design simply means that you are conscious of what you are doing or saying, and how that is perceived.”
The Best Places to Get Business Cards Printed Online
We mentioned a few online printing services in the examples above. Below are some more details to help you choose which one works best for you.
Vistaprint – https://www.vistaprint.com
Screenshot via https://www.vistaprint.ca
Vistaprint is available internationally and offers a wide selection of shapes, paper stocks, finishes, and specialty designs. They’ll send you a free business card sample kit that allows you to feel the different types of paper before making a decision. Vistaprint’s prices are reasonable, with frequent discounts.
MOO – https://www.moo.com
Screenshot via https://www.moo.com/ca/products/business-cards.html
MOO’s prices are more expensive, but they have a fantastic selection of premium and luxury papers, as well as cotton business cards made from recycled t-shirt fabric. You can choose foil, matte or gloss finishes, among many other options. MOO offers a free Sample Pack too.
Jukebox – https://www.jukeboxprint.com
Screenshot via https://www.jukeboxprint.com/
Jukebox offers standard, specialty, and recycled options with prices more comparable to Vistaprint. You can check pricing using “basic mode” or “advanced mode” for more specific instructions. The selection of styles, finishes, and stocks is impressive. You can even choose to print cork business cards.
It’s amazing how such a small piece of paper can make a big impact. Even though we work in a virtual world, we can share tangible reminders of the quality of our freelance or virtual assistant business.
So, before you run into your next potential client, consider these keys to a winning business card. You never know when you might have an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
What elements do you consider important in a business card? Do you have any other online printing services you’d recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!