I have long been of the mind that some sort of business card or "card" should be on-hand at all times. Yes, it will probably end up in the trash - or will it? It completely depends on the situation of course.
The key of all marketing is to stand out among your competitors. This is a fact. That is the entire point of advertising. So while I will, and do, design your basic business card, I prefer to offer something else. The situation does matter though. Does your business NEED an actual basic card? or can we have a little fun with it?
I think along the lines of that prospective client leaving the meeting y'all were just in and just handing them the card as you bid good-bye, or your boss is calling you over and you haven't had the chance to exchange contact with the person or group you are chatting with at a social or business event - hand them a card! These are situations where an inexpensive one will work - even if they toss it right after they enter your contact in their phones... There are also networking events that say "put your card in the bowl to win a prize". Well, that requires a card... It is often a way for the host to get contact information to add to an emailing or old fashioned mailing list. Prices for basic cards are so affordable these days, it is will worth the pennies they cost. BUT! When you stick out, they actually LOOK at the card in almost every situation. There are options and ways to stand out that still look like you are legit and professional but won't break the bank.
I am a bit different because of what I do for a living. My cards are usually are odd-shaped or something utilitarian.
Case 1: So! To start, my branding colors are blue and white. I have a triple layer "basic" card that is slightly smaller than the traditional 2x3.5. It is layered with a blue strip between 2 white layers of stock. EVERYONE! and I do mean everyone looks at my card. It feels different in their hands. They all try to spread it thinking there is more than one stuck together. They turn it over and look at the back.
It gets noticed. AND THAT IS THE POINT!
I also hand out rubber jar grippers with my contact info at networking and other "fun" events. They are a lot larger, but it is something people will use. Those pesky jars!!! Pickles, nut butter, olives, salsa! — all vacuum sealed for your protection to cramp up your hands and shoulders when you open them the first time! I also have the plain paper round card. It's a 3" round, thick card stock and cost about the same as a regular card.
I am creative. Why on earth would I have a plain, basic card?
There are other jobs that FOR SURE a basic card would be most appropriate, but every job - even a trash collector - can have fun with one!
Case 2: My custom costume designer client. She is a talented creative that will make your dream/fantasy costume come to life. SO! Since these are custom, they are not cheap, inexpensive, poorly made costumes that you will find in one of those Halloween pop-up stores, so why would anyone think a basic business card would be appropriate for this?
BUT! We all have budgets and bottom lines that need to be adhered to or we won't have money to operate the business for very long. In her case, I was thinking that 1) because of her field, would she really need a box of 200 business cards? I don't think so 2) her clientele would see the quality and trust in her services upon receiving the card. I envisioned a nice cream card stock with the image of satin imprinted on it and an opalescent overlay (or even on an opalescent paper if they had a heavy enough weight). It would be die cut into a clean, classic - but not rectangle - shape and a simple string of silver or gold embroidery floss wrapped around the center with a real needle (tip covered or dulled of course). Of course her logo and contact information would be clearly visible at the top and bottom of the card. The cards themselves were easy enough, but then the string and needle would have to be manually added. As the widowed mother of a small child, that was just not going to happen. We both hopped online and we found a company that would print her info and logo onto a ready-made mending kit all ready to be handed out. It wasn't as decadent as the hand made one, but it was suiting for her needs.
I would say to look at your budget. Is there ANY room at all to explore something a little bit different? There is even just changing the card material to wood, plastic, rubber, recycled paper with seeds in it or even branded or carved leather! And so many more ways to have an affordable card that isn't just a basic one.
jn designs, llc is here and ready to help you figure that out.