What’s With The Mini Business Cards?

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I first saw them circulating about a year ago…

Those mini-business cards, about the size of a tear-off on a flyer at the supermarket. Sure, they’re cute. They’re different. But, here’s the problem.

They’re built to lose.

Just like the millions of flyer tear-offs that people take, then promptly lose or throw out, because there’s not logical place to keep them.

So, somebody explain to me, why would you go and take a business card that’s designed to fit into a spot where other business cards are found, where people remember to look for it, and transform it into something that’s virtually guaranteed to be lost, buried at the bottom of a bag or thrown out because there’s no logical place to put it.

It’s important to be different, to show your individuality, but not in a way that makes people have to work harder to stay in touch.

The core purpose of a business card is to help establish your brand, but, more importantly, to provide an easy way to find your contact information. Even if only until it’s entered into something electronic. Mini business cards scream, “I dare you find me two seconds later!”

It’ s kind of like what happened a few years back when the brassy, oversized Sacagawea dollar pieces hit the market in the U.S..  At first, people thought they were cool, then merchants started to revolt, because they had nowhere to put them. Cash registers were set up with standardized slots for bills, coins and credit card receipts. Merchants filled every slot and set up the drawers that way they worked best. Then, along comes the Sacagawea dollar and there’s no easy place to put then, so they end up getting left on the counter, misplaced or mixed into the quarter slot, then often miscounted. Even though it was illegal, some smaller merchants flat out refused to take them.

Don’t turn your business cards in Sacagawea dollars.

Be unique, stand for something, shine.

But remember, a cool design that’s more easily lost and makes people have to work to find you may well be unique…

But not in the way you want to be remembered.

Different is only worth it when it’s better.

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40 responses

40 responses to “What’s With The Mini Business Cards?”

  1. Ana says:

    Do you want a client that can be charged to keep a different sized card? I wouldn’t trust him to be able to get my check in the mail

  2. I’ve been using the mini business cards for over a year, with different photos printed on one side and my info on the other. My experience has been that people WANT my cards, they ask for multiples, and I’ve witnessed them being placed in prominent locations in their cubicles and offices. Granted it may just be so they can see the photos, but they are definitely not shuffling them away!

    And really, does anyone keep the bigger ones anyway? 🙂

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Katrina – Cool, but what you’re not seeing is the lost opportunities from people who’ve taken the cards and had them vanished into lost sock land (FYI – it’s a real place, been there when I was 3!).

      And, as you noted, the reason they may be keeping them around may be more for artwork than for what you want to be known for…that, or they just can’t figure out where to put them.

      Last point, you’re right most people who’d be reading this blog don’t keep biz cards anymore, but the vast majority of the world (no blog readers, can you even imagine?!) do. And, even if you throw them out after you enter them into your beeping thingy, you’ve got to have somewhere to put them until you do.

    • nora says:

      it takes a lot for me to notice any business card because really, who wants extra paper when you don’t need it? if i really need a business’ phone number i’ll store it in my mobile phone, otherwise i’m just going straight for the website or email anyway, and throwing out the card. UNLESS there’s a compelling reason for me to keep it, like special paper or beautiful design or printing or something different.

      i personally really like the mini cards too – or any card that isn’t the typical size and is really well designed. unless they’re too big, i just put them in my wallet with the rest of the cards.

  3. Love the perspective…. Especially the insight that marketing is not just about doing something different to get noticed and win more business. The details need to be considered.

    I have played with difference sizes (smaller and even a little bigger) and now I find that I don’t really need one. 🙂

    Might stay with a conventional size and go with more edgy wording.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I almost never carry biz cards anymore. But, if I do again, I’m inclined to make giant oversized bright red ones that may not fit anywhere…but you can be damn sure they won’t get lost!

  4. I SO totally agree with this. Which is why my business cards are a 3×3 square. Card holders be damned. My card looks great and sticks out wherever you put it. Which was what I was aiming for. And it doubles as a note card on the reverse and most importantly i love handing it out.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I like that.

      • I like that, too. I collect more post cards than business cards, so 3×3 seems like a step in a more user-friendly direction. I’ve hosted a literary radio show for five years, and am getting ready to change the format. It will be syndicated. I’ll have post cards with my show’s info, along with a free download. I’m excited. I think if you can give something along with the card, people are more inclined to keep it.

  5. Agreed! I was tempted to order some of these small business cards when I saw them on Moo.com, but when I actually saw them up close, I thought the odds of me losing a few before handing them out was pretty high … which means there’s no chance that people I’d give them to would be able to hold onto a single one. Cute, sure, but if they don’t stick around long enough for the recipient to actually use your contact information, they’re not memorable in a way that benefits you.

  6. falnfenix says:

    this is one of those “your mileage may vary” posts – a friend of mine, who does photography on the side, has had quite a bit of business thanks to folks circulating her cards.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Interesting, but like Katrina above, what you can see is where it IS working, but what you can’t see is the lost opportunity cost, how many more people have NOT called because the cards were lost? Also, similar to Katrina, if there was a beautiful picture on it, that may be the real reason the cards are being kept around…

      AND, you’ve gotta wonder whether those same people wouldn’t have kept and possibly even displayed MORE prominently a bigger version?

      • I see where you going with this Jonathan, but even if you did have a regular sized business card; how would you determine how many opportunities are lost due to loosing that kind of card?

        Enjoy your blog

  7. “Different is only worth it when it’s better.” That says it all Jonathan and I couldn’t agree more!

  8. Gordie says:

    I’ve never come across these, but they seem pretty illogical like you said. Nothing is designed to hold cards that small.

  9. Amy Carrier says:

    Mini cards are cute and that’s about it. There are other ways to make a standard 3.5 x 2 business card stand out:
    1. Heavy card stock – 120# or more
    2. Plastic
    3. Diecuts – rounded corners or hole punches or laser die cut
    4. Folded
    5. Add color – you can get 4/c digital cards cheap
    6. Be creative – Professional cards can still be fun.

  10. I haven’t seen the mini cards but I can imagine just what you said, losing them almost immediately. I think I will make my new cards the size of a large map so it is hard to lose, it must be rolled up. That may be extreme. Maybe temporary tattoos.

  11. In my experience, they worked quite well when they were new to market: the novelty factor.

    Now, I see them as good backup cards for most of us—the spare, travel version you can have on your keychain—and good for select groups WHEN USED WELL. Most people don’t put a lot of thought into their cards, period, Moo or other, nor even how they hand them out.

    Note to anyone who carries any card: spend your time asking people questions and engaging with them, not trading business cards; you’ll end up with fewer cards and more meaningful relationships.

    And never, ever, EVER proffer a card. Ever. EVER. Wait to be asked. Trust me on this.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      So true, it always comes down to HOW you use any card, even the biggest, best designed ones.

  12. Tammy says:

    This is the first time I have heard about the mini cards. I can see wanting to stand out. I just had some really nice postcards made, that were very inexpensive ($0.04 a card). Lately, I have been handing them out instead of my business card. People seem to enjoy them.

  13. Babs says:

    I’ve had clients who have asked for cards of varying sizes, etc but ultimately, I believe the tried and true approach works best. Like Amy said, there are lots of different ways to make your business cards stand out. Yes, most of those techniques are more expensive than traditional printing, but then, potential clients losing your cards (and thus not being able to get in touch) would be just as expensive as well, wouldn’t it?

  14. Peg says:

    I find them useful as a way to share info on something special NOT as business cards.

    I give them away to invite people to join my business school alumnae discussion group. Or come check out my Facebook site.

    People think they’re very cool. But they are not a replacement for business cards.

  15. Sonia Simone says:

    I’m with Colleen, they were quite good when they were new, because they really were remarkable. And you can easily fit them in your wallet, unlike an oversized card. But because of the coating Moo uses (which is lovely), they’re slippery and, yes, at that size, they’re very easy to lose.

    I now use full-sized Moos with the same lovely coating, and a collection of different images. Still remarkable, not quite as cute, much harder to lose.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I just like the fact that said “full sized Moos” in a comment!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      PS – for anyone with their minds in the gutter (and that would never happen here), that last comment was NOT intended to be sexual in any way, it’s the name of a company, so let’s not even go there!

  16. I’ve just finished a year long experiment in not carrying business cards.

    As a business consultant, I’ve found it does wonders for my perceived credibility – probably through some kind of perceived scarcity (??)

    People ask for a card, or give me theirs, and I politely let them know I don’t carry cards, always accepting theres and following up the meeting with a personal email of thanks with contact details in my signature.

    Don’t know why I decided to try this. The outcome result was more “real world” clients checking out my blog to get a feel for me and my work. This is a good thing.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I pretty much do the same thing. it’s almost like it forces you to give people a reason to remember you, then because you’re the one with the contact info, it’s like you’ve been given permission to follow up

  17. I’d never seen the mini business cards. However, I have recently been thinking about upgrading my cards to larger-than-normal ones.
    My thinking went something along these lines: Bigger would stand out, it would provide room to write a note on the back, it would allow me to showcase an image (important, as an artist), and would stand out for being different.

    While mini-cards would be handy for travel purposes, I don’t see the point. I appreciate the advice given in the above comments on how to hand out cards. Thanks!

  18. Was just having this conversation on Twitter today. It is a lousy idea.

  19. I love the mini Moo cards… great quality, reproduce images beautifully, and very tactile. I always carry a few in my wallet (for our vacation rental home) and folks get a kick out of them. I’ve heard from people that they tack them up on their bulletin board or fridge. I didn’t know they have a larger size… I’ll definitely check those out.

    My “professional” business cards are the traditional type, but I don’t usually carry those with me. As Peter mentioned, I like being the one accepting a card and then initiating a follow up.

  20. Nice interesting post. Working online means you don’t usually have to see business cards so I miss all this thankfully.

  21. Dave says:

    When I was on my trip around the world, I used the mini-sized Moo.com cards because they were smaller/lighter for me to carry in my backpack. Since all my interactions were with other travelers, I thought they were a big improvement over scrawling my e-mail address on scraps of paper or in people’s journals.

    One American couple I met in Indonesia even found my Moo card at the bottom of their backpack a year later during a trip to Peru (and got in touch with me). Perhaps that speaks to your point, but I also think it speaks to mine that any kind of printed card is better than nothing when traveling.

    Once I returned home (20 months later), I used Moo.com to get full-sized business cards for my blog because I was once again using a wallet and networking with people not living out of backpacks far from home.

    By the way, small or big, Moo.com cards *always* get a positive reception. Highly recommended if you want your cards to stand out.

  22. BonzoGal says:

    I still have a Rolodex of business cards right next to my computer. The ones I notice most often are the cards that have an index tab sticking up.

    The people I contact the most, I take the time to enter their info into my PDA and laptop. Others who I may work with once in a blue moon go in my Rolodex. Cards that don’t fit in the Rolodex bug me- I would toss both a too-small card AND a too-large card. So I agree with Amy Carrier- keep the standard size but make it look interesting.

  23. Teresa says:

    I haven’t had the chance to use business cards in my line of work, because I’m mostly on the production side instead of the client communication front. The one time I got some printed out though, they ended up being stored and forgotten in my drawer. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Some people just prefer to save your number in their phones or whatever handheld device now. However, business cards are still a tool for some who want to keep a few things traditional amidst an electronic world. I agree though, that if you’re going to have business cards printed and distributed, it’s best to make sure they’re big enough to notice and interesting enough to not lose.

  24. Chip says:

    This is a bit Johnny-come-lately the only real reason for a business card these days is to pass along your contact info and it will be kept just long enought to get into somebody’s phone/computer/ipad?

    For me who is setting out on a 100 Strangers photo project it is a quick and easy way to show I have some legitamacy when I ask those strangers if I can take their picture.

  25. Alex says:

    It’s true. Some people (actually a lot of them these days) tend to give business cards ‘unique’ designs but tend to forget about the functionality aspect. Which kind of defeats the purpose. IMO, minimalist business cards of just the right size works best. Or you could always just use your phone and digital business card.

  26. Charlie Fields says:

    When I was a personal trainer, I had plastic cards that looked like gift cards (with a strip on the back!) and were redeemable for a free session. The reasoning is that people will hold onto it because it feels like something of value.

    But what is really great about plastic cards is their durability. If someone leaves it in their pocket and washes their pants, nothing will happen to it.

    Another thing is they feel expensive which shows that you are serious about your business.

    The cards don’t cost that much, I got mine at plasticcardmonster.com

  27. Kelly Stone says:

    We just got the cute little teeny tiny business cards and what a MISTAKE. Much too small. We used square ones in the past but the plastic gift card size will be our next.

    Kelly

  28. Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for all your comments!
    I was just getting ready to order the mini moos, and totally changed my mind about it after reading this article.
    I was going for the fun, colorful, unique look, but I may just do the plastic cards instead. I think they add a nice touch!

    PS: I still find the minis to be really cute! 😉