5 Reasons to Avoid Cheap Business Cards

5 Reasons to Avoid Cheap Business Cards

So, you think you should save a few bucks on your next business card order. Any of these sound familiar?

  • “I’ll just go GarbageBusinessCards.net and get some of those free cards.”
  • “Hey, can you grab me some of those perforated sheets down at Office Shack?”
  • “Doesn’t the copy shop on the corner have clip art you can choose from?

We’ll level with you: Sure, we’d love if you printed your next business card order with Jakprints. But, this article isn’t a sales pitch. This is a motivational speech for investing in you and your business. You don’t have to buy an expensive business card to look good, you only need to avoid a card that looks cheap.

First Impressions

Everybody has learned by now how important first impressions are, you don’t need another guy on the internet telling you that. Often we’re downright obsessive about our actions during a first meeting (firm handshake, eye contact, pleasant musk) while paying little mind to all the ancillary details. A nice business card, just like a solid website and a good follow-up phone call, is what separates the men from the boys (and the women from the girls!).

A Nice Business Card

You don’t need to have a “fancy” business card if it’s not your style (or brand). What you’re aiming for is an effective business card, in the purely analytical sense. If a fancy card that wins design awards is your goal, awesome. Add it to the list! But, design awards aren’t the goal for most businesses.

Your business card is NOT an advertisement for your products, it’s an advertisement for the quality of the business relationship you’re offering. You want to be a luxury brand of business relationships, regardless of what you’re selling. And, visually, a layout free from distraction implies luxury. Busy, crowded layouts imply cheap. Think about circular ads and their dense, crazy layouts. Or, think of how the dollar store is laid out. Give your information some room to breathe. Yes, busy, crowded stores and ads may be good for revenue. But, that’s not your goal here.

It’s easy to get excited about social chiclets and pretty fonts and a big photo and your mission statement and and and and and… Don’t distract from your main message: The establishment of a great relationship.

Branding & Design

Whether they know it or not, every person and company has a brand. Even plumbers and landscapers need to demonstrate a high level of trustworthiness and quality. Hell, the garbage man has a nice brand now — aren’t you doing more important work than actual garbage?

The dude from Ancient Aliens (while absolutely insane) makes a great point: Your card is a physical representation of your business. Is your business cheap, flimsy and hastily put together? Well… Maybe it is. But, no one needs to know that; least of all the new person you’re trying to build a relationship with.

Many times, a first meeting — where business cards are exchanged — is someone’s first in-depth exposure to your brand. To keep the design clutter-free, find creative ways to reinforce your brand by showing instead of telling:

  • Is the environment an important part of your brand? Print on a 100% recycled stock.
  • Is your portfolio an important part of a sale? Use one side of your card to show off a photo or illustration.
  • Does your brand thrive in a traditional, conservative industry? Keep the extras to a minimum and stick with a classic, type-heavy design.
  • Is your brand trendy? Look for on-trend options, like ultra-thick papers, painted edges or a die cut shape.

No Pre-Designed Templates

There is no way to use a pre-designed template without compromising your brand, period. Full stop.

To a template designer, successful templates are measured by the number of downloads. They are, by definition, designed to be as generic and broadly appealing as possible; or, the brand equivalent of vanilla ice cream.

You may be thinking, “eh, I’m not a designer and the template is the best I can do”. That’s no way to run a business, is it? Settling for “good enough” or “it’s pretty”. Even a non-designer can craft a successful card that represents your business. If you’re at a loss on where to start, start with a template. But, you’re starting with a template, not ending with it. Take that vanilla design, crush up some branding Oreos on top, drizzle on a little personality hot fudge,  and…This is getting weird, you get the point.

High-Quality Printing

Your poured a lot of TLC into your business card design, don’t skimp out now! Again, your goal here isn’t necessarily “expensive”. The goal is “not cheap”. Just like you would be wary of  the cheapest contractor or supplier, you don’t want to glom onto the cheapest printer. Afterall, they are the cheapest for a reason. Where does a cheap business card printer cut costs?



Oh, man. You can save so much money on paper if you don’t mind ordering from a asian sweatshop paper mill. They grab any cheap, clear-cut rainforest tree they can get their hands on. Cheap paper goes out the front door and awful chemical slurries get pumped out the back. Any respectable printer, orders all of papers from American and European paper mills, whose trees are chain-of-custody certified to have come from responsible, well-managed forests. The Earth is more important than saving a few bucks.

Customer Service

We won’t name names — we don’t like to gossip — but certain printers are proud of how robotic their print shops are: Digital orders come in, computers prep the files, digital printers spit them out and a robot boxes them for shipping. It’s literally a really fancy office printer that ships to you instead of sitting in the closet next to the break room. You’re paying for experts to be printing your order! Experts who make sure your colors match from front-to-back. Experts who notice that your text is too close to the edge and might get cut off. Experts who notice that you accidentally linked to a lo-res file before printing. Experts you can call on the phone and talk to.

Quick Not Quality

Cheap Business Cards

Cheap printers find ways to cut corners on your files, too. We won’t bore you with the technical details of line screen or rasterization or rich blacks. What it means is that they’ve optimized their print process to what’s quick and efficient for them not what looks best for you. Improper rasterization leads to fuzzy type that’s hard to read at small sizes. The crappy line screen means that you see the ink dots on your prints instead of smooth colors. Rich blacks makes fine details look blobby. You’re better than blobby business cards.



A Thrilling Conclusion

When you introduce your brand, artwork, band, passion or small business to a new customer or fan you want to instill confidence, quality and longevity. Sure, your business card is a small detail; but, it’s part of your first impression. How do you want to be remembered?

Leave a Reply