Are potential customers poking fun at your cheap, flimsy business cards?

Today we were at Starbucks and overheard a conversation of some businessmen, well we’ll assume they were businessmen because who else hangs out at Starbucks in suits? But anyway, they were poking fun at how horrible the logo was, how flimsy the paper stock was, and the fact that it was one-sided and only in a single color, black.

And I thought to myself, business cards are one of the single most important marketing pieces that get handed out more than anything. Why wouldn’t someone put effort into their business cards? Do they not understand that it’s often the single first-hand impression that gets passed along to potential customers?

As a longtime designer I’ve designed for some pretty big branded companies. And because I started my agency in Las Vegas, I was mentored by a lot of old school graphic designers who preached and taught me about the big fat purple cow we often write about in our monthly column — the significance of being different and unique, and how being different from others will pay off in the long run.

Before the housing crisis in 2007-2008 it seemed that businesses couldn’t get enough of being different and unique, but then people lost jobs, stopped buying, and businesses started to close left and right. So they became cheap — really cheap. No longer did they want quality, they just wanted cheap, and at the time I couldn’t blame them.

And that’s when the Internet-based printing companies started to be competitive and offer better pricing than the local printing companies. Fast forward nine years to now, businesses are, you guessed it, still cheap. And it appears they sometimes don’t care anymore about the lost art of a unique business card.

So the question remains, do people really care about your business card? Does being different and unique help your company stand out? I say emphatically, yes!

Last month we went to ISC West; we didn’t exhibit this year, but we certainly walked the floor to say hello to some of our manufacturing clients, to mingle and of course get them free beers. And as we networked with current and potential customers we handed them our business card, which is posted at so you can take a gander at them. With God as my witness there wasn’t a single person who took our card and just put it in their pocket. Every person we handed it to said things like, “Interesting,” “These are cool,” or “It’s going to poke me.” But you know what that little unique card did? It broke the ice and was a conversation piece, but more importantly it was a reflection of our creativity and the unique service offering that separates us from others.

Don’t underestimate the importance of a business card, young grasshopper. And before you laugh at this article and set down this SDM Magazine, consider this:

  • Typically the business card is the first impression a potential customer sees; make it count.

  • If it’s unique, it will often help to break the ice as a conversation piece.

  • A unique business card, especially ones made of metal would typically be shared with friends, colleagues or employees.Which means more brand recognition and potential for business.

  • A unique business card has a better chance of standing out and being saved by that potential customer who has collected a ton of them.

  • Some business cards use paper that is eco friendly and embedded with wild flower seeds. So if the potential customer doesn’t want to do business, at least they’ll think of you every time they walk past those flowers.

  • The business card is still the leading, personable piece of marketing material that gets business after an in-person meeting and a sturdy handshake.

  • And much more, but more importantly it will allow you to boast about how crummy your competitors’ cards are compared with your sturdy, classy, unique business card.

How do you know if you have a crummy business card? Go collect five competitors’ cards and compare. You’ll know the truth. Whether you admit it is another question. Until next month, adios muchachos.