Business Cards – Your First Impression

By Dave Austin, “Music Professor”

I was attending a DJ conference some time back, and as most of us do, exchanged business cards with most everyone I met.  However, one DJ’s card (which I still have) stands alone in my memory.  It is a black background with a gruesome grinning skull dripping blood and the DJ’s name and phone number in jagged white lettering.  Yowzah!

Attention-getting?  You bet!  Business-getting?  Questionable.  This kind of the first impression might appeal to the goth crowd, but probably not so much to a prospective bride, class reunion sponsor or other more conservative gatherings.  Which brings me to this question:  What does your business card say about you and your business?

We’re unlikely to give a great deal of thought or attention to something as seemingly simple as a small rectangle of cardboard with a name and phone number on it.  However, your business card is an integral part of your first impression.  So, what should an effective business card contain?

First, you must decide on the image you want to convey to prospective clients.  Are you hip, cutting edge, elegant and upscale, city, urban…?

How do you want your card to look?  Basic and clean with just your business name and a phone number…perhaps a unique eye-catching photo or graphic…your logo or a photo of you?  The simple card, white or off-white with raised black lettering can impart an impression of elegance if that is your style.  In advertising, there is an axiom that “color sells,” and most will utilize color elements on their cards.  There are a lot of choices, so select one which reflects you and your business.

Up to this point, we’ve been talking about the front of the card, but there is a back side and that is where you have an opportunity to expand on the information you’re providing.  Of course, you should have your business name, and how to contact you – phone number(s), e-mail address, website.

Also, what do you do?  Of course, you DJ, but do you specialize in a particular kind of event or are you a “generalist” who performs at a variety of events.   Is there something unique about your service that prospective customers should know?  Do you offer lighting, coordination service, a photo booth?

With all this, let me caution you not try to crowd too much onto your business card.  In marketing terms, the eye likes white space, meaning that cramming too much type into the available space is a big turnoff.  For example, compare it to being handed a sheaf of papers with an involved technical subject.  Line after line of type is just too much trouble to read for most people, so they don’t read it.  Keep your information brief and concise.  Don’t be wordy – keep it short and to the point.  Use bold type to emphasize the most important items – business name, contact number, etc.

While on the subject of type, select a typeface or font that is appealing to the eye.  There are thousands of typefaces and you’ll want to spend some time searching for one that fits your style.  It’s not unusual to combine two typefaces, but exercise care when doing this as not all type styles go together well.  However, it’s not a good idea to use more than two styles as a mixture of fonts can result in an ugly unappealing mess

When satisfied with your layout, proofread it several times for possible errors then, get your cards professionally printed on a substantial paper stock. A thin flimsy card simply does not feel right and may convey an impression of cheapness.   A glossy stock will give a brighter and sharper appearance, but matt and semi-matt finishes are also available.  I don’t recommend printing your cards on your computer.  I’ve tried it, and although they were “okay,” I still prefer those from the print shop as they have a much nicer look and feel.

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression and a handshake and an effective business card is a good way to begin.

Visit the PMDJ Steals & Deals page for discounts on printing.


  • Dave Austin began his career at age 13 at a small, hometown radio station. He went on to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in broadcasting. Since that time, Dave has been a mobile and radio DJ, radio station Program Director, and a TV news reporter and anchorman. He has also done voiceover work for documentaries and commercials. In 1986 Dave’s longtime passion for music prompted him to start “Southern Celebrations DJs,” a multi-system mobile entertainment company serving clients in Tennessee, Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama. You can email him c/o

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