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15 Business Card Sins Lawyers Commit

by Trey Ryder

Sin #1: Your type is too small. Few things provoke as many negative comments as type thatís too small to read. In an effort to achieve a corporate or high-end look, artists often choose fonts that are painfully small. Donít. Make sure your prospects can easily read the words on your card.

Sin #2: Your fonts are hard to read. To achieve a high-end look, many lawyers turn to scripts and even Old English typefaces. Unfortunately, theyíre nearly impossible to decode. How often have you looked at a business card and then rolled your eyes because you didnít have a clue what it said? A business card that people canít read is worthless.

Sin #3: You print on top of a photograph or illustration. Some lawyers put an image or photo on their card and then print words across it, called overprinting. Donít do it. Overprinting makes the illustration hard to see and the words hard to read.

Sin #4: Your letters are spaced too far apart. Several years ago, artists started putting a lot of space between letters within the same word to gain a sophisticated look. They could take a five-letter word and make it as wide as a ten- or twenty-letter word. Few things look as artificial or amateurish as letters that are pulled apart in an effort to create a highbrow effect. If youíre sophisticated, people know it. If not, they know that, too.

Sin #5: Your fonts create the wrong image. Fonts are not just a matter of personal preference. Their lines, curves and serifs create a certain look. Formal or casual. Contemporary or traditional. Elegant or comic. Lawyers often choose a font they like without realizing that the font doesnít convey the image they want to communicate.

Sin #6: You use too much foil. Foil stamping can look professional when used with discretion. But commercial printers get excited when they buy a new foil stamping machine. For the next few months, everybody who walks out of their shop has foil-covered business cards that look like an explosion in a paint factory.

Sin #7: Your information is hard to find. When someone looks at your card, they want some piece of information. Often, itís your phone number or e-mail address because they want to contact you. Make sure you put information where prospects can find it quickly and easily. Otherwise, youíll end up frustrating the same people you want to attract.

Sin #8: Your card stock is flimsy. People see your cardís colors and fonts immediately. But many lawyers donít realize that people also draw conclusions based on how your card feels. Rough or smooth. Heavy or light. Firm or limp. Make sure your cardís feel is consistent with the image you want to project.

Sin #9: You use cheap, raised, plastic lettering. Itís called thermography and people like it because they can feel the letters as they rise off the card. The fact that lettering stands up to coffee stains is hardly a reason to buy it. Itís fine for a plumber or car mechanic, but thermography falls short if youíre looking to convey an upscale image.

Sin #10: Your information is out of date. Some people think they canít order new cards until they use up all their old cards. They may even cross out the old phone number and write the new number above it. Spend the money. Order new cards.

Sin #11: Your card is more like an ad. Lawyers sometimes design their business cards so they look like small display ads. More often than not, this is a mistake. Prospects do need a fair amount of information before they decide to hire you, but on your business card is not the place to put it.

Sin #12: Your odd-size card doesnít fit into business card holders. In an effort to stand out from the crowd, some lawyers use cards of unusual sizes. True, this makes you different, but not always in a positive way.

Sin #13: You give your toll-free number to everyone. When you print your toll free number on your card, youíre inviting the world to use it. Consider printing only your local phone numbers on your business card. Then, when you want someone to have your toll-free number, write it on the back. The person receiving it will think heís special -- and you have much tighter control over who uses your toll-free line.

Sin #14: You put too little information on your business card. Prospects and clients may prefer to reach you in different ways. One may like e-mail; another may want to send a fax. When you give prospects and clients different ways of contacting you, youíre more likely to offer a method thatís within your prospectís comfort zone.

Sin #15: Overall, your card is too much. For a dignified, professional image, aim for a card that is quiet and understated. When a client hands your card to a prospect, in one second your prospect draws conclusions based on what he sees. That small piece of card stock projects the image, substance and depth of your entire firm. Donít underestimate the importance of a good business card. When you want a new image for your law firm, make sure you hire a competent commercial artist or designer. What your card says -- and how your card looks and feels -- are too important for a do-it-yourself job.

About The Author

Trey Ryder is a law firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing for attorneys. Trey Ryder offers lawyers three free articles by e-mail: 9 Smart Ways to Cut Marketing Costs and Improve Results, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss. Send your name and e-mail address to and ask for his free e-mail packet of articles.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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