Should your business card stand out from the crowd?

by Andy Lopata on October 15, 2013 · 3 comments

Business CardOver the last fourteen years I have been given business cards of all sizes, colours, material and theme. There have been some wonderfully creative approaches to make business cards memorable, from incorporating digital brochures onto CD-Rom and USB cards to cards made of solid metal.

My colleague and President of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA) Geoff Ramm is a big fan of businesses being different when designing their cards and often shares some of his favourite cards he collects from his travels around the world. Here are the two latest cards to catch his eye:

Meanwhile, President elect of the PSA, Eilidh Milnes, has an ‘augmented reality’ card. Eilidh’s card looks like an ordinary business card but comes to life when you scan it with an app in your phone.

I must admit that I’m not a fan of novelty business cards. I understand Geoff’s point about the cards helping you to be memorable and stand out from the crowd, but then Geoff is a marketing expert. That’s his viewpoint. If you see your business card purely as a marketing tool, then go for it. Geoff will have some fantastic ideas for you.

However, I don’t look at business cards from a purely marketing perspective. Yes, they need to represent you and your brand effectively. Yes, you do have to think ‘what does this card say about me and my business?’ and ensure that they are consistent with the message you are trying to send.

But I look more to business cards from a networking perspective and ask how practical they are. Far more important than being memorable to me are the following questions:

- Does my card carry the essential information my new contact will need? Will it remind them who I am, what I do, how to find out more about me and how to get in touch at a simple glance? This is where I think the CD-Rom and USB business cards fell down as most people weren’t interested in reviewing the information stored within.

- If the person I’m giving my card to scans new cards into their contact database, is my card going to be useful to them? Is it the right size and is all of the key information they need available on one side of the card?

- Where people store my card for future reference, what type of storage will they use? Will my card fit into a standard card index? If it doesn’t it might be thrown away.

- Can people write on it? The more creative people get in designing their card, the less space they allow for people to write notes based on a conversation at a networking event. I see a lot of cards using deep colours and blacks. Sure they stand out but if someone has promised you something at an event and want to write it on your card to remind them, they may not be able to.

Eilidh’s augmented reality card works on both levels. It is certainly memorable when you experience the augmented reality of Eilidh speaking to you from her card, and it helps you to remember Eilidh from meeting her. But it looks like an ordinary card; it’s the right size to scan and has space to write on.

The even more creative examples in Geoff’s video, however, are certainly memorable but fall down as networking tools for me.

What’s more important for you?


Don’t forget, you can join today’s Global Networking Show live at 7.30pm BST, 11.30am PDT, 9.30pm in Romania and 10.30pm in Dubai by tuning in at and you can ask questions by tweeting using #GNetShow

Andy Lopata
Labelled ‘Mr Network’ by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called ‘one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy‘s third book, ‘Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals’ was published by Financial Times Prentice Hall in July 2011.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Damian Weinberg October 29, 2013 at 21:51

Hi Andy,

Many thanks for sharing your expertise. Your distinction between Marketing vs Networking, concerning business cards, is very interesting. Let me tell you what is important for me.

I personally think that Geoff’s business cards, the bottle opener and the condom, are a good compromise between the two approaches. And, not just because they are memorable (marketing), but also because they satisfy somehow your own criteria for a good business card (the networking approach).

First, a word about the meaning of being “memorable”. Memorable is usually defined as “worth remembering or easily remembered, especially because of being special or unusual”. So, these two business cards are memorable; no doubt about it. However, what’s more important is that these business cards will not be thrown away. If you think that 90% of the business cards given end in the trash bin the same day, the fact that these business cards will be kept is already a great thing! So, they are not just memorable, they will be kept by the receiver.

Now, let see if Geoff’s business cards satisfy your criteria:

1. Contain all the essential information? Answer: Yes. Why not?
2. Will the business card fit into a standard card index? Answer: Maybe. For example, I think the bottle opener could fit into most traditional business card files.
3. Can people write on it? Answer: it depends. If you have an indelible pen, yes; you can write on it.

All in all Andy, I think Geoff’s business cards are good marketing tools as well as networking tools.

Thanks for reading, cheers,



Andy Lopata October 31, 2013 at 16:51

Many thanks for your reply Damian.

I understand where you’re coming from but I still think that the two cards featured in Geoff’s video are better marketing giveaways than they are networking tools. I agree that the bottle opener may stick around for longer than your average business card, although I’m not so sure about the condom!

Such promotional tools have been used by businesses for years, but I’m not convinced that they help you network more effectively. I have been resting my drinks on a promotional coaster that’s been on my desk since 2005 (it has the date on it!) but, prompted by writing this response, I’ve only just looked to see whose services it’s advertising.

In terms of writing on the cards, I’m not sure how many people turn up to networking events with indelible pens! The onus is on the card giver, not receiver, to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

I’m not detracting from the cards as promotional gifts but that’s not the same as a tool to make networking easier. Ultimately, however, the business card is far less important than the impression you leave as a person and the relationship you build after the event.

And I don’t believe any marketing gimmicks can trump that!


Damian Weinberg November 8, 2013 at 15:59

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your reply.

I think at the end we agree on the most important point:

“the business card is far less important than the impression you leave as a person and the relationship you build after the event”

You and your business card have to work together in order to create a positive and permanent impression on your prospects.

Thanks again Andy, take care,



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