Vikram Rajan
Vikram Rajan

Is Your Business Card Hurting Your Business?

Use these strategies to avoid damaging firm growth.

July 19, 2010
by Vikram Rajan

Even more than your website, your business card is the single most important marketing material you have. It’s low cost, most kept and most handed out to potential clients (by you and referral sources). Ironically, a CPA’s business card is often the most uninteresting and uninformative part of marketing the practice.

While thousands of hours and dollars are used to glamorize websites (and for good reason), a fraction is often paid to designing the form and function of business cards. People take an inordinate amount of time staring (hopefully reading) clever business cards. Moreover, a simple “call to action” on a business card can quickly turn a new acquaintance into your next big client.

Distinguish Your Business Card

To these points, it’s extremely easy to distinguish your business card from other CPAs. Think of your business card as a little website, maybe an extension of it and thus having the same look and feel. Want to redesign your website? Start with your business card first; you’ll get a bigger bang for the buck. In fact, the easiest way to drive traffic to your website is through a business card.

Beyond the letters after your name, does your business card describe your practice? It should. Do you have any specialized certifications (e.g., ABV, CFF, PFS, CVA, etc.) after your name? Explain the acronyms. While of course, less is more, it goes a long way to note that you are part of a distinguished organization, such as the AICPA or your state society.

Flipside of Your Card

With or without advanced certifications, your business card should explain your accounting focus or the services entailed by your general/full practice. Does your card name any niche markets, industries or demographics you address? People always like to see their name in print; second best is their profession, industry or special interest. For example, use the back of your card for such information.

The back of the business card maximizes your business card’s real estate; branding you as your card is face down. Keep enough blank “white space” that both calms the eye and leaves room for you to write something if needed. Of course, your business card need not be white (or cream, tan, beige or some other boring color). Try using two colors or shades to break up the monotony.

What Are Your Clients Looking For?

Nowadays, your clients want you to be fresh and forward thinking. Like updating your website (and wardrobe), your business card should be refreshing. The look and feel of your business card is as important (if not more important) than its words. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Treat your business card as art, not science. Use icons, geometric shapes and symbols to quickly convey information. As you repeat imagery, it will become your brand (with or without a logo) naturally.

Remember: Branding = Repetition.

Designing Your Business Card

Write the name of your practice (or your name) with a specific typeface. Ensure the same typeface matches your website, brochures, letterhead and other marketing materials. Don’t use more than three different fonts on any marketing material; san serif fonts (like Arial) are more modern. Serif fonts (like Times New Roman) are more conservative. Reflect your practice, philosophy and personality accordingly … keep it consistent everywhere.

Some bold may play with the overall shape of the business card — folding it, squaring it, cutting an edge, enlarging it, and more. This will differentiate your card and help your clients better remember you.

On the flip side, you may feel this is too odd. However, if you’re a CPA whose clients include wine retailers, auto dealers, then you can use this type of branding keeping it as relevant to your target market (shape of a boat, wine bottle, hard hat, etc.).

Else go with the standard, two-sided, colorful, iconic card. Of course, you can go vertical if you like it shaken, not stirred.

I’ve rounded the corners on our business cards. I quip any wry commentary, “I don’t want any sharp edges; marketing shouldn’t hurt.” It also matches our logo. If you’d like to see any of these business card marketing ideas put to practice, look at our business cards: www.PracticeMarketingAdvisors.com/cards.

Use a Catchy Phrase

The more you buck the boring standard, the more comments you will get. Predict them; embrace them: They’re taking notice of you and will remember you. Ultimately, if your business card isn’t standing out, your referral sources will forget they have it, where they kept it or how to recommend you.

To that end, have a simple one-line phrase on your business card. It’s not supposed to be a poetic tagline. Rather, a one-liner is the way someone should introduce you. Your one-liner should reflect your expertise and niche.

Give referral sources the words (your one-liner, website address and contact info), so that they don’t have to think of them. That’s what your business card should do, in less than five seconds. E-mail me images of your business card and I will give you more specific improvements.


Remember to always carry business cards with you (not a ratty one in your wallet). Hand them out with intention and value. Handing out business cards without meaningful conversation is like leaving postcards on windshields. You, your practice and your business card, are way too classy for that.

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Vikram Rajan is the founding partner of Practice Marketing Advisors™ with CoGrow. He helps CPAs develop and implement Marketing Action Plans within the relevant codes of ethics and compliance obligations. He has taught seminars for the AICPA and other accounting societies. You can watch marketing videos and read more ideas at PracticeMarketingBLOG.com.

© 2010