Double duty business cards

BY CHUCK GREEN “Formula” thinking defines a business card as your name, company, address, and phone number printed on a 2 by 3 1/2 inch white card. Formula thinking does what everyone else is doing. Effective marketing is all about presenting your unique advantage—it is anti-formula. A marketing-smart business card (figure 1) doubles as a brochure that presents your unique selling advantage and moves people to action.

First, let's look at why you hand out cards to begin with. Your hope is that your prospect will keep it and refer to it when they’re ready to take advantage of your product or service. It establishes an image of your organization, offers several ways for them to contact you, and presents it in a familiar form that is easy to store and retrieve.

A brochure provides all of the same information plus details about your company and a call to action. An anti-formula design combines the best of both to create a more effective tool—I call it a business card brochure. Here's how to create yours:

Compose a compelling message

To write the message, compartmentalize your thinking. The illustration (figure 2) shows the pieces: a cover, two panels that form the front and back of a conventional-looking business card, two panels inside for your text and the back panel, used in this case, to jot down a message.

The purpose of your cover headline is to state your unique marketing advantage and to lead the reader inside. For this example, I created a fictitious marketing research firm that uses the headline Who can tell you what consumers are buying and why they're buying it?

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The reader answers the question by opening the cover to reveal your name and business card. Your card is the conventional size and shape and can be left as part of the brochure or detached.

Next, you use the space inside (figure 3) to tell and illustrate your story. Don't waste time trying to convince your prospect how great your organization is or how many products you have—focus instead on the advantage your products or services provide to the customer—turn details into benefits. Same thing with the subhead—turn something about you into something about them.


Follow the body of your text with a call to action—the specific action you want the reader to take. Such as “Want to learn more about trends in your own backyard? Call me for a free survey design planning kit.”

The bottom, inside panel is actually the back of the business card. Because we assume the reader will detach the card from the brochure, you should treat it as an independent element. It's a good place for a mission statement or a theme line.

On the business card, be certain to include all of the details that apply: your name, title, company name and street and e-mail addresses. Do you have a Web site? be sure to include it. List phone numbers for voice, fax, and voice mail lines and be sure to include area codes, no matter how little out-of-town business you do. Finally, tell the reader what you do via a short, customer-oriented theme line, in this case, Learn more about your market than you ever dreamed possible!"

Create a friendly, frugal design

The design is friendly because it can go anywhere a standard business card does—in a shirt pocket, wallet, or card organizer. It's frugal because it uses just two colors: black and pale green—a combination that is more far interesting than black and white and far less costly than full color. I used various tints of green to give it a multicolored look.

Your printed, folded card should be that same size as a conventional business card 2 by 3 1/2 inches. The cover panel is slightly deeper than the rest—2 1/16 instead of 2 inches to compensate for the fold.

The illustrations are electronic clip art—the figures pushing the world are from a picture font called Primitives, a Fontek DesignFont published by Letraset (800-343-8973,, the spiral shapes are from a collection of logo-like symbols titled Design Elements published by Ultimate Symbol (800-611-4761, I added a generic “in-motion” photograph for visual interest from the Corporate Motion CD published by Rubberball (888-224-DISC, The fonts are from the Frutiger family by Linotype-Hell (800-799-4922,

Take your artwork to a commercial printer

Save a file of the final artwork and take it to a commercial printer to have it reproduced. The printer or a service bureau should print the artwork in high resolution, at least 1000 dots per inch (dpi). Print the card on a slightly thinner stock (paper) than a typical business card—I recommend 70 lb uncoated cover stock.

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Ask the printer to score and fold the card as shown and to perforate the business card panel so it will be easy to remove. As always, double-check your measurements and positioning by reviewing a draft of your project with the printer. They will be able to tell you if it will print and fold correctly.

The headline panel is printed on the back of the top panel of the inside as shown [4].