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It might be the digital age, but business cards are still a very effective marketing tool, a direct extension of you, your business and what you have to offer. They reflect your personal brand, often the first chance to make an impression on someone and effectively identify who you are.

Invest in a well designed, distinctive business card tailored to your brand to encourage potential clients to want to find out more about you. Here are some tips to help you create effective, professional business cards.

While you can certainly design your own business card, it’s worth investing in a graphic designer to create a design that reflects your personal and professional brand. Choose a layout that is consistent with your website and other printed material.

Research has shown that engaging more than one sense at a time can improve recall of an object, so if you got your card embossed people may be more likely to remember you. Avoid decorative or over styled fonts as they’re often hard to read. Stick to simple, easy to read fonts and ensure the size is legible and not too small that people need to squint to read it.

The most important consideration when designing your business card is your information.

Ensure your name, title and business name/logo are clearly displayed on the front of the card. Carefully consider what contact details to include without making it look cluttered. A lot of businesses no longer include an address on their business cards, but your website, email, phone number and social media handles are essential. Only utilise the space on the back of the card if you want to list your services or company tagline, otherwise leave it blank and uncluttered.

Readability is far more important than creativity. The standard business card size is approx. 90x55mm. Odd shaped business cards might stand out, but they’re often difficult to store.

Ensure your colour palette is consistent with your branding, that you choose complimentary colours so that the card is visually appealing. Often white space looks nice and crisp and clean on a business card, don't feel you need to fill it up. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity!

Prospective clients will judge you on the quality of your business card. Choose a card stock that is thick enough not to be flimsy or get bent, the thicker the card the more expensive and good quality it’ll look and feel. Don't give your clients a reason to think that your services or quality of work is unprofessional. Glossy card stock looks great, but is often difficult to write on if a client wants to make notes on it. Matte or non-shiny paper is often more practical.

One of the worst things to go wrong on your business card is a typo. Make sure you check and double check all the information (including numbers) before sending it off to the printer. A typo on your card will look unprofessional and tardy. Show your design to a friend to get a second set of eyes check over it, as well as check any content that may not read well.

Always ensure you business cards are up to date with all your current information. You’ll look unprofessional  and disorganised if you need to hand write details on an outdated card. Cards should always be clean and presentable, not dirty or dog-eared. Don't hand out old or outdated cards, grab their details and email them your information and contact details after the event.

Never leave home without your business cards. You never know when a random encounter might turn into a potential business opportunity. Keep your cards clean and protected in a professional card holder as well as a stash in your car, wallet, desk, handbag and phone. When attending meetings, always hand over a card (they’ll always remember your name!).

Finally, your business card should be a reflection of yourself and your personal brand. It should be clear, provide concise information and be easy to read. It is a great marketing tool for yourself and your business, so always ensure you have them on hand to give to people you connect with.

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