Over the holiday period I went through many hundreds of business cards I have collected over the last few years.  That led me to post a reminder that: ‘No one refers work to a business card‘. This was a follow up to an earlier post with the same title.

Having reviewed all of these cards, from website developers, solicitors, bankers, PR people, bookkeepers, accountants, tax advisers, trademark agents, answering services and many, many other business people, I thought I would distil some advice for ambitious accountants.

Before getting onto the common mistakes let’s just remind ourselves as to the reason for a business card. I suggest that it is to provide the person to whom it is given sufficient details for them to get in touch with you – and to know why they might want to do this.

The following are among the most common mistakes I saw on all of the accountants’ business cards I looked back at last week. Some are boring, others are naive or just plain daft:

1 – info@accountancyfirm.co.uk

Email addresses that start with ‘info@’ suggest you’re new to email and will prevent you receiving some of the emails you want, for example if you sign up for newsletters etc.  Use your own name. After all, it’s your business card.

2 – accountant.name@ntlworld.com or @yahoo.com or @gmail.com etc

Email addresses that use a generic email service are unprofessional and suggest that you are either new in practice, are not serious about your practice or are very much behind the times. None are great signals. You can get you own email address very cheaply even if you do not have or need a website.

3 – Crossed out email address on card and new handwritten one added

Talk about unprofessional. Think of the impact this has. New contact details means new business cards. There’s little point in finishing off an old batch of cards if the people to whom they are given put them straight in the bin.

4 – Multiple office phone numbers

You should only need one office number unless you operate from multiple offices. Even then you could make it easier for callers by utilising a central phone answering service, installing a switchboard or adding an auto-redirect (when engaged or unanswered) to your mobile number.

5 – Two email addresses on one business card

Why would anyone do that? It’s not like having separate local and city office physical addresses. Make it easy for people to contact you; don’t force them to wonder and to choose.

6 – Flimsy and cheap looking card

Your business card is a memory aid for when you’re not there. Do you want to be remembered as a cheap amateur?

7 – Mixed up personal and business contact information

So many business cards have evolved with little thought apparently given to where newer info should be added. It’s so much easier if the business name, address and switchboard number are evidently separate to your personal name, title, mobile, direct dial and email address.

8 – Tiny font

Either the information on the card is worth including or it isn’t. If it’s too small to read then it might as well not be there. Too many business cards seem to have shrunk the font size to fit on more information such as email addresses, linkedin profile links and a promo message. But if we can’t read it easily you’re wasting your time.

9 – Forgetting to include ‘Accountants’ after the business name

So many of the business cards I threw out recently had business names on them but no indication of the nature of the business service they offer. Of course if you’re ‘tax specialists’ you might put that instead of ‘accountants’.  Remember too that even if you’re a member of the ICAEW and use the authorised logo, not everyone will recognise this so it’s not sufficient.  And whilst a marketing ‘guru’ may have suggested you call yourselves something like ‘business growth specialists’ you still need to use the word ‘accountants’ (or whatever) to make it easy for the person who looks at your card some time after you gave it to them.

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Feel free to add comments below and share other tips and mistakes you’ve seen if they could be helpful for fellow accountants.

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