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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


These Business Cards Are Crap

A few cards bring back memories. As for the rest, who are all these people?

I’m going through a pile of business cards that I “collected” at a recent industry event so I can write my follow-up cards and emails. Sadly, the majority of cards don’t make it easy.

The company names could be anything from realtors to lawyers. (Strutz & Associates anyone?) The job titles range from acronyms to the nonsensical.

But, and this is where I’m really shocked, the quality of many of the cards—in terms of the paper, printing and design—is, let me put it mildly...crap.

The paper merchant whose card doesn’t really tell me he is a merchant (see lawyer example above). Adding insult to injury, the artwork is pushed so far to one side that I can only explain it as a mistake on the cutting end.

Then there’s the vp of production at a large (very large) publishing company whose business cards are on the flimsy side (less than 100-lb. cover). Again, we seem to have an issue with cutting cards properly.

And how many large corporations gloss varnish their business cards, which prevents me from writing on them? Too many! I have a habit of making notes on cards to help jog my memory when doing my follow ups, but not for this particular market development manager.

Do as I tell you, but don’t do as I do.
We might be moving to the digital age in oh so many ways, but we still need business cards. Wait...Make that, “We need great business cards.”

Extra thick paper, foil stamping, an unusual size, an additional fold. We’re all trying to convince print buyers, designers and marketing managers that print is important and beautiful. So step up to the plate.

Show them what paper and print can do. Make that oh-so-important first impression...well, impressive!

Yes, our cards are changing. Some people have added their Twitter handles, and a few (very few from what I saw) have a QR code.

But above and beyond this, our business cards are still the first impression we give people about ourselves, our business and our professional approach.

So keep printing beautiful cards (no floppy paper or glossy varnishes, please) for your clients and for yourself. Impress your prospects with your creativity and competency. Convey standard sizes and models. Add an extra panel, or offer a perforated tear-off proposition. Tell me about your business in less than 10 words.

The possibilities to be memorable and show off your printed cards (read: your business) are endless. Please don’t end up in the crap pile!

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