Why I Tossed Your Business Card

May 7, 2012

You’re at an event or having a client first meeting and like a gunslinger you quickly reach into your pocket and BAM—you whip out your business card.

No matter if it was asked for or you offered, most people take the card and smile while putting in their pocket after pretending to actually look at it. Once back at the office, they might enter your information into their contact database or even follow up with a phone call. Then again, the round file might be the first stop for your card.

I receive a lot of business cards at networking events and at events when I speak. More cards along the way at other off chance or smaller group meetings. Cards—lots and lots of business cards flow through my hands.

We also design business cards for our clients, so I think about these things from a design and branding perspective as well. And while I will be the first to espouse staying true to your brand colors and logo while creating an attractive and professional card, there might be times where some adjustments are called for.

With all of that on the table, allow me the opportunity to rant about things that go wrong with business cards and discover why your card might get tossed before the data is captured, taking a lead opportunity in the trash along with it.

1. The dark background and small print make it almost impossible for my scanner and totally impossible for me to read, especially phone numbers.
2. Your shading of colors and fonts don’t leave much contrast for the information to pop for a scanner to read, let alone for my eyes.
3. You cleverly hid your email address someplace where I wouldn’t expect to find it.
4. Some of the information is a secret, hidden on the back side of the card where no one thought to look.
5. The logo where you got the cards for free is showing and so I can only assume that you probably won’t be in business next year. Why should I make the effort to follow up or enter your data?
6. Your fonts are so scrunched together and so tiny I can’t read anything. (Hint: give your card to someone 40 or older for a quick readability test.)
7. You have your name, maybe even a company name, but since you aren’t IBM I don’t know what you do and my memory will never serve me if you told me. (Hint: give a bit of information to state what you do or what you offer.)
8. You’re using that fancy glossy stock paper or paid extra for a coating, which admittedly looks great but I can’t write a note on it.
9. Your dark background and busy design also don’t leave any room for me to write a note on it. (Notes are good especially if I want or need to follow up.)
Newsflash: when you hand out a business card, recipients aren’t going to frame them for wall art. There should be a utilitarian consideration as well as a great design. Don’t let your design get in the way of having a business card that can work for you.

Please take a look at your card and see if it is helpful or frustrating. You are invited to add to this list of things that cause you frustration from the business cards that you receive.

Mardy Sitzer is a Certified Inbound Marketing Professional, and President of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. Follow her on Twitter (twitter.com/MardySitzer) or email her at mardy@bumblebeellc.com.

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