A BUSINESS card makes a statement about who you are and what your business is about. It needs to convey the quality of your business and give an insight into your personality.

I have been handed business cards where the first thought to go through my mind was “cheap and tacky design”. It didn’t help that the card was made of low-quality paper.

How I perceived the card then became my overall impression of the business. Don’t let people think the same thing about you or your business.

Here are some ideas:

Use colour

Use elegant shades instead of the usual black and white cards other people have. But don’t use “day-glo” colours unless you are running a children’s art shop. You want your business to come across as a serious and classy operation.

Show your face

Put your photograph on your card. It will help people remember you. The photo needs to face into the text, not away from it, and it should be of good quality. Do not use a “mug shot” from a DIY photo booth, as the quality is beyond your control.

Use quality paper

My business cards are made from a really durable art card that doesn’t get “dog-eared” easily and is difficult to tear up. Apart from the practical benefits, high-quality paper also looks and feels good.

Include your logo

Make the logo small, because you have a lot more important information to put on your card. You don’t necessarily need a logo but it helps to give you an identity.

Ask a graphic designer to produce one for you or buy the software for a DIY job. If you don’t have a logo, you could utilise a drawing, caricature or a picture that tells people about what you do — but be consistent in your use of images.

Shape savvy

You can opt for a standard shape or you can use a fold-over style that gives more space for text and looks different. I used to have a card that folded into a small tent so that it could stand up.

I have seen it several times on a customer’s desk, and I hope he thought it looked too good to throw away!

Do something different

Give people a card that stops them in their tracks and makes them want to find out more. It may be worth your while to work with a graphic designer on this.

Show and tell

Have benefit statements and/or your USP (Unique Sales Point) displayed prominently on the card. Tell customers what you can do for them and how you can help solve their problems. Your name and your business’ name should be much less prominent.

Use both sides

If you want to have a photo, benefit statements and all your business details on your card, then you’ll need to use both sides. Organise your information carefully. Your business details can go on one side and benefit statements on the other.

Avoid overcrowding

Details are important but don’t squeeze too much in. A messy business card is a turn-off and the recipient may think your business is haphazard and disorganised too.

Contact information

Your business name, address, phone number, e-mail and website addresses are crucial, but you may want to avoid including your mobile phone number.

You can always write it down for “special” customers, letting them know that you only give this number to certain people. This will make them feel good and help you avoid fielding too many calls after business hours.

Get your name right

The name on your card should reflect how you would like to be addressed when a customer calls you. You don’t need all the middle initials.

Don’t list all your qualifications, just the ones that matter in your work. The majority of people aren’t impressed by all the exams you have passed — they only want to know if you can solve their problems.

Easy-to-read text

Use capital letters sparingly and stick to just one or two typefaces. Fancy fonts can look tacky, so be careful.

Update your cards

If your details change, don’t score out the old and write the new information in — order new cards!

Putting little stickers on with your new information is another no-no; it makes you and your business look cheap.

If your business card is looking the worse for wear, replace it with one that tells people you are worth doing business with.