Your first business card is a big deal. That 3.5 X 2 inch piece of card stock signified that you were somebody in business-that you had arrived. And when you got your first cards for a business you built? Even better. I wonder, though, how many boxes of unused business cards get tossed into landfills (or, at best, recycle bins) each year. Are they relevant and, if you consider them a “must” still for business, how can you make yours a marketing and communication tool versus something that gets buried at the bottom of someone’s junk drawer.

CBS Sunday Morning recently reran a segment on business cards that is worth the 5 minutes it will take you to watch it. Different cultures view the business card differently so if you are doing business in Asia, you probably should have, and respect, the business card. If you are strictly an online business, your website IS your business card. If you are a service provider who shows up in people’s homes (plumbers, cleaners, exterminators), magnetic business cards can be a good investment to keep your business up front and center on the fridge if someone needs you. Of course, most refrigerators are ridiculously cluttered so make it stand out.

Here’s a rule of thumb. Get business cards if your customers are local. Not everyone agrees business cards are still relevant. But I think they are in this instance. Again, if you are primarily online or a virtual freelancer, they are rarely necessary. But for businesses like mine that have both a bricks and mortar AND a virtual presence, I have business cards for my face-to-face contacts. Don’t buy 1000! You will never use them or your information will change before they are gone. It isn’t a bargain if they go in the trash.

I like business cards that serve two purposes: your contact information on the front and some tips or additional useful information on the back. If you are going to get business cards, get the best quality you can afford and try to make them unique if you are competing for business. Yes, you can buy thousands of business cards for $20 and design them yourself these days, BUT you can tell and they doesn’t scream “quality” at potential customers/clients.

If you opt to not spend the money, make sure your online presence is well-developed. A simple Google search should turn up a business person and their associated website or LinkedIn/Facebook profile. You can build a Google profile as well. Often finding you isn’t the issue. Remembering you is. A business card can help a little but your value has to come from your business.


by Steven Schlagel