Companies that use business cards report that sales increase of 2.5 percent for every 2,000 business cards they hand out. Networking is indeed one of the most important attributes of successful businesses and few tools are effective in networking as the simple and affordable as the unassuming business card. The business card as we know it first made its presence way back as a “trade card” back in 17th century England. Business cards have grown by leaps and bounds to the card we know now. The internet has opened up the possibility of businesses and individuals designing their business cards with a few clicks of the mouse. You need to adapt to these trends for your cards to stay relevant. In this article, we discuss how the internet has revolutionized card designs and what you need to do stay on trend.

The Business Card: Still Relevant in the Digital Era

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While some are quick to dismiss the brick and mortar business cards as a tool whose days are numbered, statistics indicate otherwise. With 27,397,260 business cards printed in the United States every day (over 10 billion every year), the business card shows no sign of releasing its grip on the marketing and network arena. But business cards are much more than just a marketing and networking tool. Especially in the corporate world, the act of giving out a business card is as much an expression of camaraderie as it is a marketing tool. In a networking gathering of financial services sector players, for example,  it would be considered a breach of etiquette if someone was not to hand out business cards.

How Cost and Convenience Are Driving the Online Business Card Craze

One reason for the online business card craze is the low cost of cards designed online. Graphic designers in the U.S. charge an average of $68.5 per hour and costs for hiring a graphic designer to design unique card from scratch will set you back about $500 according to some estimates. This is a far cry from online cards where most services will spare you the designing cost as long as you commit to printing a certain minimum number of cards with the company. Moreover, you have the privilege of choosing from thousands of possible templates when you design online. These unlimited possibilities enable imaginative people to experiment and come up with products that satisfy their desires. Many people are also attracted by the convenience of placing and receiving the whole order with a few mouse clicks without physically trying to explain their preferences to someone.

Creativity Within Limits

88.8 percent of business cards received will get tossed within the week according to studies. You, therefore, need to give your business card an edge when designing. Don’t fear to innovate but be wary of straying very far from the acceptable standards. While die-cutting techniques can allow printeries to cut out virtually any shape of business card (mascots, pineapple, cookies, apple etc), a traditional rectangular card with rounded edges is usually adequate for most businesses.

Business cards, appropriately described as pocket-sized billboard, have standard sizes. In North America, there are 3.5×2 inches. Most businesses are probably better off sticking to these standards as making cards that are very radically different may evoke negative feedback. However, some businesses have found success by making their cards slightly bigger. Ensure that the cards can actually fit into a wallet if you want to join this revolution.

Simplicity Always Wins the Day

The best business cards are ones which are simple. One way to make a business card unappealing is by cluttering it with too much text or visuals. Cards which are not cluttered have a warm appeal about them. That is why most cards normally have a lot of white spaces. Of course, the spaces on your card don’t have to be white. In fact, a recent study indicated that clients are 10 times as likely to hold onto a colored card compared to a white card. But such cards should still be uncluttered to be effective.

Simplicity does not have to mean regular or boring and cards with creative features will always be more appealing than those without.  

Designing cards with an online service usually gives you access to an overwhelming number of font options. But unless you work in the arts, always resist the urge to use gimmicky fonts. Fonts like Bradley may make interesting pieces for a calligraphy class but they are a big no-no on a business card. Such fonts are usually illegible and may negatively affect your brand’s image. Most professional designers use Serif for the heading and Sans Serif for the body. You can stick to these fonts or use other traditional fonts like Times Roman.

How to Make Your Online Business Cards Unique

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Many online business card design companies are recycling the same templates. If you use such a template for your cards, there is no way your the cards are going to help your business to stand out. This may not be a problem for many small scale businesses but it may become an issue if your brand wants to market itself as a unique venture. In such a case, you are better off seeking out sites with unique online business cards.

The use of a personal photo on business cards can provide a personality boost and warmth to the card. Some businesses have found success including a photo of one aspect of the business on a card. In addition, including a QR code may help you to give your clients access to information that would otherwise not fit on the business card. All the efforts invested in making your business cards special may go to waste if you print on cheap paper, however. People usually assume that you provide cheap services if you use cheap paper. Therefore, while you might not need to print premium cards complete with embossed or gold-plated sides, choose a paper that will not invite ridicule upon your business.

Designing and ordering business cards online is becoming easier and cheaper than ever before. But to get cards that will effectively propel your networking and marketing efforts, you need to get the designing basics right. If you use a relatively uncommon template, keep the cards simple, and you experiment and innovate, your cards will likely fly off the shelves.