Ten tips for accountants’ business cards

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Over the years I have collected thousands of business cards, many of them from accountants around the UK. Most of them are almost indistinguishable from each other.

I suspect that some accountants underestimate the value of an effective business card. And a fair number have business cards that look much the same as they did 10 or 20 years ago.

As ever I would be the first to say that if your current business card works for you, then stick with it. Mind you I doubt that there are many accountants who get an enquiry or a referral every time they give out their business card. It’s unrealistic to expect this of course.

Before sharing my 10 tips let me just pose a key question. 

What do you want people to do when you give them your business card?

The ten tips of things to think about:

  1. The thickness of the card and how it looks and feels
  2. Plan the key elements of your card
  3. Which are the most important contact details?
  4. Distinguish the personal contact details from the main business details.
  5. The font type and size
  6. A professional head shot
  7. Space
  8. Your card should reflect your image
  9. Does it help you stand out?
  10. Is it useful?

Mark Lee is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB.co.uk and chairman of the Tax Advice Network. Visit his personal website and blog.

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12th May 2011 21:42


Business cards?

You have too much time on your hands....

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13th May 2011 08:24

Old and new

@Mark - going back to basics like the good old business card and seeing if there is something new is a good idea.

This guy is a bit over the top but he has a couple of good points click here.

On a more serious note, Quick Response (QR) Codes are interesting. For firms who want to dip their toe into mobile marketing and link their offline networking with their online content, they should have a look at this video click here.

With QR Codes your business card can link directly to your LinkedIn profile; people are then only one click away from connecting to you.

You could get them to connect to you while you are with them. To encorange people have a free tax planning report or something useful on your LinkedIn profile. From there you can nuture relationships using LinkedIn's direct messaging capabilities. This is marketing one step at a time, permission based and positioning you as a valued contact.

Keep in mind QR Codes can also be used on all forms of offline media and can take people to a video or landing page on your Website. You just need a bit of creativity.

I am thinking about using a QR Code with a competition I am running. We can put the code on a mailer and people scan the code and get the entry form on their mobile phone. It just makes responding much easier and should boost the return on the campaign.

Bob Harper

Portfolio | Marketing for Accountants



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13th May 2011 09:34

I actually agree with Mark on this one....

Business cards are very important and like a CV it is better to have more than one version of business card, each leaning toward the market you are aiming for. In both instances it is vital to utilise the opportunity of the message presented in the form of the business card to send the appropriate message to the client. Would you really want to give the same version of card to a prospective client who is a sole trader (perhaps with tax facts on the back) as opposed to a corporate accountant/executive (crisp and lean/clean)? 

I don't put personal details on a business card, but I do also carry "visitors cards" (they used to be commonly presented upon visiting someone, on a personal basis, at their home .... and in some high class circles they were once presented to learn whether they were "at home" for you) which are in fact still used today (though for slightly different purposes) by some people! 

Colour is fine, but gimmicky cards don't fit into the professional environment.

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13th May 2011 14:18


excuse me ! if you must stick one on your website

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14th May 2011 21:14


Please, putting a photo on your bsiness card is right up there with putting a photo on your CV. It sucks. Nobody likes it and it always looks nothing but cheesey.

If you've made an impression when you meet someone and exchange cards, then that person will remember you. If you haven't then they won't. Simple as that.

There are a few good basic reminders here for us, but please skip over the head shot tip.




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15th May 2011 11:41

Have to disagree with you Chris re photos

Not sure what research or experience leads to you to beleive that 'nobody likes it'.  You're perfectly entitled to hold a personal view to that effect of course.

As someone whose business life involves a heck of a lot of networking I can assure you it's a definite plus when trying to remember each of the 10-20 people I spoke with at an event and whose business cards I am looking at some time later.  And I'm not alone, I know that from many conversations with other business people who encounter a variety of accountants and others when out networking.

The issue isn't whether someone is memorable for a few hours or days but whether we can remember them and recall anything about them some weeks or months later.  Given the way the human brain works a photo is bound to help aid recall.  It's one of the reasons why so many memory training techniques involve the creation of pictures in our heads.


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17th May 2011 12:15

Photos - do it right if you're going to bother

I think you're both right. So many photos do indeed look downright cheesy. However, as Mark says, a photo will help people remember you. My advice is simply, if you want to use a photo, get a professional photograper to take it (and update it regularly). I know it will probably cost a lot more than the cards themselves, so have a photo session to produce photos for your website and brochures at the same time. A cheap, tacky photo will convey a cheap, tacky image so don't bother unless you're prepared to do it right.

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17th May 2011 12:34

Stinky Business Cards

We are just getting ready to launch a sideline business and are looking at scratch and stiff business cards; it goes with the brand StinktySites. What could accountants do that who show a bit of creativity and personality?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants



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17th May 2011 14:20

Who bothers with business cards ?


No one keeps them, if you want one you can never remember where you put it.

Total waste of time and money.



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19th May 2011 11:40

Sample of biz cards collected at events this week

Am binning 4 of them as they came from Biz card shovers. We barely spoke. The cards give their company names and their titles/positions but give no clue as to what they 'really' do or even what the company does. Pointless frankly.

None have photos - 2 days on and i can recall each of the faces but doubt that I'd recognise them if i don't see them for a month or two.

The cards that describe the business or who it's for on the back are the best of the bunch - though one has a dark grey background so I can't see the notes I thought I'd made on the back ;-(

One has a lime green back with tiny print - some in black and some in white - it's almost illegible due to font size and colours.  Almost pointless.

Now I'm going off to do some real work! ;-)


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19th May 2011 13:48

carried out a straw poll with some clients

they all agree that its horrible and for panjandrums only - they would chuck them in the bin , no sleight ohf hand required there .......

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19th May 2011 14:47

Make sure yours isn't the one thrown in the bin

Mark has it absolutely spot on. Only question is the photo - I agree a professional headshot can help, but it has to be a good quality photo.

Social media links are also important - I include my Skype and Twitter contact details. Make it easy for people to find me and find out about me.

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19th May 2011 21:44


Appreciate the supportive comments and added wisdom from others.

For those who disagree - that's fine too. Each to their own.


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20th May 2011 02:51

Biz Card Ideas

For me, biz-cards from customers and suppliers are a way of collecting their contact details, for entering on Outlook, which syncs to phone.  Then, I tend to sellotape the card into the project file like other papers (which is almost a bin-action) .

These days, who still uses a biz-card-FILE like a phone book?  I used to have one for about 8 years, where I was collecting biz-cards like stamp collecting.  Did I use it to contact people?  To find people?  To find someone who could do certain services etc?  No way!!!   It was Internet/Outlook/mobile as the weapons of choice……for years. 

Stand-out cards?  Well they are fun for a moment and can cause a brief effect but once the details are transferred, that is the end of it. 

I read once that the best business card is one written by hand on torn pieces of paper – the recipient won’t forget that person!  (If that’s how you want to be remembered.)  But, like the proper cards, the info gets entered and the card/paper gets binned. 

So, photo………… Unless it’s going to be scanned onto a computer/phone for later recollection, I suspect it would just be a topic of fun, like a passport photo.  Though I appreciate at network meets it could be helpful.  Maybe two biz-cards are needed, then: one for normal use, and another for those network meets. 

I feel it’s vital that the card states your line of business.  Ideally it would be part of the business name, but if not, it needs including somehow.  If 2-siding, you could also list out the various specific services on the back (leaving that useful bit of space for notes etc).

I liked the idea about having the card legible for the weak eye-sighted types.  (I just tried to read off my own email address – not so easy……not so good.)

When you start looking at making an impression with the biz-card, too much info is an issue to consider.  eg, in one of those fiction films, Sherlock Holmes’s card just had his name.  Not even his address!   Interesting. 

What could you drop out and what should you keep on the card?

When I see a card with main number AND direct number, and fax, and cell phone and and ……..it all seems too much.  What is that all about?

If you have a website, the fax number is unnecessary on your biz-card, so we can skip that.  It is only good to show it if you are working from home and want to project something better than domestic by boasting the two numbers (voice and fax).  Otherwise, the other person will be in their office when/if sending faxes and can easily get it from your website.  (Gets them looking at your website too.) 

If there’s a main number AND a direct number........well, it is YOUR biz card; just show the direct number (and don’t describe it as “direct number” – makes it look like you are trying to seem extra important with your OWN phone line).  And why would they want to speak with the receptionist/filter if they have your direct number?  Let them get the main number from the company website. 

When planning to meet a customer, or following a meet, consider sending them an email with a standard signature containing those general contact details.  It is much easier to transfer onto their Outlook/phone etc.  (You could even have a photo with the email if really keen.)  That would possibly reduce the workload requirement from the biz-cards. 

And what about the new hi-tech phones.  Maybe they will be the preferred solution for passing over biz-card details, rather than the bit of cardboard.

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21st Oct 2011 04:33

As a designer of business cards...

I am a graphic design graduate with 12 years industry experience and I also happen to work for a family business which is an accountancy practice. Even with extensive experience in this area it always takes something like seeing our logo next to other logos (such as when we sponsored the Edinburgh Film Festival recently) on a page in the catalogue to realise even a design which seems perfect can actually melt away when shoved up against other, more outstanding logos.

The same goes for business cards - or even more so as they don't even have the fortune of being scanned visually in the same place. I've come to the conclusion that, if possible, go for a large logo on one side - with no other visual clutter - then keep the other side for the information.

When it comes to colour think in a very basic way. An eye-catching painting usually uses only 1 colour as the dominant colour and perhaps uses a small flash of a complimentary colour in an area which one wishes to draw attention to.

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10th Feb 2015 11:07

Business cards

On the reverse of my card I have details of how to link in to our website to register for our free monthly tax newsletter. This encourages a recipient to take the card to their computer - hopefully at their desk.

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