How to make a lasting first impression

Research shows what people like (and loathe) in a business card

New research reveals a first impression is made within 24 seconds of meeting someone in a business setting.

The research, conducted by leading print and digital marketing material provider, Vistaprint, found that 63% of employed Britain’s think a quality business card helps make a good first impression.

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Amongst the 2000 UK employees surveyed, the biggest business card no-no’s consisted of typos (59%), gimmicky fonts (56%) and cheesy straplines (53%).

Other things to avoid are pictures of quirky animals (52%), glittery borders (47%) and clashing colour schemes (40%). And while your card may serve as a reminder of who you are, 4 in 10 respondents did not want to see a picture of the card’s owner – in this case, a picture is not worth a thousand words!

The majority of people favour a clean, classic card which is clutter free, with three quarters (75%) preferring a standard rectangular shape to fit in their wallet, 50% preferring a white background and 54% agreeing black text works best – so it can be read easily.

Based on the survey and industry insight, Vistaprint partnered with business creativity and innovation expert, Derek Cheshire, to create a list of top 10 do’s and don’ts to help small businesses make an impact with their business cards – see lists below.

Derek comments: “I have experienced a number of bizarre business cards – the first was simply someone’s contact details printed on a stretchy rubber band. Novel, but if you need two hands to stretch the rubber to read the details then how do you dial someone’s number? I have seen business details printed on a balloon, which was okay while inflated but not when popped and a cardboard Swiss army knife was notable but entirely useless.”

As many as one in six respondents believe they have lost business because they either didn’t have a card or the one they had wasn’t impressive enough.

Jake Amos, Head of Vistaprint UK, comments: “Even in an increasingly digital world, a quality business card is still vital in making a good first impression – and ultimately winning customers. It’s an important tool in showcasing your brand and aiding you in looking professional.

But this needn’t be overly-complicated – overwhelmingly customers preferred simplicity to gimmicks. Our research showed a successful business card relies on communicating what you do well and making sure you clearly link back to your brand, so potential customers remember you when they need your goods or services.”

For a little inspiration on just how to get it right when it comes to business cards, Vistaprint have also created a series of cards for classic characters.

These include business cards for Count Dracula, Victor Frankenstein, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes and the Tooth Fairy.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR A PERFECT BUSINESS CARD:

  1. Make it memorable AND carry it with you
  2. Opt for a standard size – people don’t know what to do with a large, lumpy or expandable card
  3. Use the best paper / card you can afford but don’t go over the top with embossing and cut outs
  4. Get it designed using the CMYK colour system, as you won’t be disappointed with the finished product
  5. If you are using colours or block images, leave bleed space
  6. Have some white space, possibly on the reverse, to allow people to make notes about you
  7. Put careful thought into the design and layout of the card and ensure your logo is prominent
  8. Make sure all images are at least 300dpi and don’t steal images from websites
  9. Proof read, and proof read again – mistakes are expensive
  10. Make sure the card is congruent with you

TOP 10 BUSINESS CARD NO-NO’S:

  1. Don’t choose a gimmicky font – don’t use text which is too small or colours which are too hard to read
  2. Non-standard size – your card needs to fit easily into a pocket or a business card holder
  3. Missing contact details
  4. Poor quality –  don’t used flimsy card or print them out on an ink-jet printer
  5. Don’t use all the colours available just because they are there
  6. Don’t overcomplicate or clutter the card
  7. Avoid filling the card with useless information – make sure you say what you do
  8. Don’t steal strapline from another company, make yours memorable
  9. Don’t be afraid to use an online template to help you put your business card together – but be careful to use one which aligns with our tips and no-no’s
  10. Don’t use QR codes, they’re a fad and take up too much space on a card which should be about YOU

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