The acceptance of laser material processing in industry is often detracted by relatively high costs. A generally adopted approach to overcome this drawback is the search for laser sources with higher efficiency and optical components with improved performance. A quite different and even more successful measure, however, is the purposive choice of beam properties for the particular task. As the interaction phenomena at the workpiece decisively depend upon them, quality and speed of the progress can be considerably increased. On the basis of several examples, the role of properties such as wavelength, polarization and 'beam quality' are discussed and the potential enhance the process efficiency by their proper use is demonstrated.