In this day and age, where everyone carries around a smartphone and has instant access to the Internet, you may wonder about the practicality of business cards or why you still need a business card.
These questions beg to be asked:
- How important are business cards if you’re a solopreneur?
- How important are business cards if you’re self-employed?
- Do you still need a business card if you’re not looking for work? (I guess those people exists)
The short answer is YES.
Everyone needs a business card or a calling card.
You need a business card for the sole reason that it provides an easy way for other people to get in touch with you and telling them to “Google it” is not professional. Business cards are still a huge marketing tool, regardless how much technology is around us.
You probably hear about how fast marketing changes, and yes, it’s very fast. However, sometimes it’s important to understand the difference between how marketing changes and how marketing evolves. There is a difference.
Why You Still Need A Business Card
Phone Books and Marketing Change
A marketing change is a bit more extreme. A good example of a marketing change is the old phone book. Some businesses even changed their business name so they would appear first in the phone book’s alphabetical index. However, believe it or not, there are many people who might be your ideal customer, who have never seen a phone book or even used one for something other than ripping it in half.
They use the internet. They probably use Google and they probably use it the most on their mobile device that usually is in their pocket or purse. Marketing in phone books didn’t evolve, it changed. It changed so drastically and so fast, that it is now completely irrelevant.
Business Cards and Marketing Evolution
Marketing Evolution is a bit more subtle. I like to use the classic and timeless Business Card as a great example of Marketing Evolution.
It’s one of the most compact business marketing tools in use today. It sits quietly in purses, card cases, and desk drawers everywhere, but very few people know the evolution that the business card has gone through.
The business card has a captivating history. The business card we know today has evolved from its usage that began in the late sixteenth century. It evolved from several different uses that eventually blended into today’s familiar format. Bearer cards, calling cards (or “visiting” cards), and trade cards were the three main predecessors that turned into our modern system of exchanging business introductions and contact information. These cards were early forms of advertising as well as symbols of personal and business status.
Even today, business cards continue to be one of the most effective means of advertising products and communication.
So in this post, we will discuss why business cards haven’t gone out of style and why you still need a business card.
Does My Business Need A Business Card?
Some people are quick to relate this question to age and demographics, even relating the question to, “Does my business need customers of an older age bracket?”
But it isn’t as simple as age gaps in traditional business communication strategy.
The use of business cards, just like books, have a credible tradition and useful practice behind them. Smaller than today’s business cards, Europe’s and America’s nineteenth-century calling cards usually had one’s name engraved and were printed on glossy stock. Designs became more elaborate later on, including coats of arms and motifs such as hearts, doves, scrolls, and forget-me-nots. Hosts kept them as records of their visitors and knew whose calls to reciprocate. The more elegant and ornamental the cards, the more noticeable they were. These attractive cards would often be pasted into family scrapbooks. This practice set the foundation for future traditions of exchanging Christmas and Valentine’s Day cards.
In England, calling cards morphed into trade cards. These were used for business rather than social practice and in fact, trade and visiting cards had totally separate purposes. Before street numbering in eighteenth-century London, trade cards served as maps directing customers to store locations, as well as advertisements and a means to exchange contact information.
By the twentieth century, print advertising began to replace trade cards and the public regarded print ads as more relevant than trade cards. Children considered trade cards too old-fashioned to collect anymore, and the number of trade cards printed declined. By the 1920s, they had all but disappeared. Magazine and newspaper advertising took their place, as did the modern business card that we use today.
So although the business card has evolved, they are absolutely necessary for your business and considered to be a foundational marketing tool.
Why You Still Need A Business Card
The majority of marketing today is now done online. This includes sending mail, interviewing, signing contracts, selling, advertising, attending meetings, even networking. Digital Marketing has already changed the phonebook industry, the billboard industry, the radio industry, and is making a huge impact on TV. The business card is one thing that online digital marketing will not replace anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few times when I wondered if digital technology would replace the business card. The development of NFC chips and QR Codes have made a huge impact and helped evolve the business card, but it has not replaced the business card, these advancements simply enhanced the business card experience.
Many of us have tried swapping contact information with the NFC Chip in your Phone, but I don’t know many people who left the experience with warm and fuzzy feelings.
If you really want to make an impression on someone, leave them with something memorable and tangible. Give them a beautiful well-designed business card.
Besides, I’m not sure about you but I don’t believe in random luck.
I believe “Luck” happens when preparation meets opportunity.
In saying that, make sure that you always have your business cards with you so when an opportunity comes you are already prepared and you too may get “lucky” and find success.
Let’s explore more about why the classic business card is important and why you should have a stack of them ready at all times.
Trading contact information using a digital device is impersonal. Two people with their heads buried in their digital devices, thumb typing away will not create a significant pleasant memory and the experience is often forgotten. Networking is about making genuine connections. Sending contact information via text or email on the spot is convenient, but it is also extremely impersonal and distracting.
Instead of trying to type information in each other’s devices or trying to make sure technology is compatible, it’s much nicer to have an engaging conversation with someone. This is how real relationships begin. Focus on the person you are with instead of each other’s devices, end with an exchange of business cards and worry about transferring the information from a business card to your mobile device after the conversation.
Business Cards Are Great Direct Marketing Tools
Email marketing, search engine optimization, and paid media all do a great job of attracting leads and prospects. As digital marketing experts, we believe in the power of internet marketing strategies but for many industries, digital marketing is a tool used for one purpose. If we really drill down to the simplest form of that main purpose, it is to meet people (that you can do business with).
Many brands that conduct transactions offline tend to be much more effective at closing deals when they have a personal meeting. These meetings allow them to talk one-on-one, look each other in the eye, and shake hands with each other. If they haven’t already, these interactions usually end with an exchange of business cards.
You can encounter a potential lead or contact at any time: tradeshows, standing in line, conferences, happy hour, airport lounges, the gym and even during leisure time. Arming yourself with business cards at all times will ensure that you never miss an opportunity to make a valuable business connection. Keep some in your car, purse, pocket, wallet, money clip or briefcase so the next time you encounter a prospect you are prepared to make a meaningful connection.
Branding using your Business Card
You only have one chance to make a first impression. When you meet someone that could potentially be a great prospect or connection, you want him or her to walk away with a great first impression of you and your business.
A memorable business card does a lot more than just pass on an email address or phone number, it is a symbol of your unique Brand Identity and shows your connection to a quality marketing plan. It is a small sample of your brand.
When you make that first impression and give them that small sample, you want them to think “Wow. Nice card, this business is really on top of things. More so than that other company with a cheap discount card.” Stand out from the crowd, make a lasting impression that leaves them thinking “Wow.”
Quality business cards cost more, so you may think twice about dropping them in that “free lunch” fishbowl, but you will take pride when handing them to a potential client. Use the opportunity to show off your company logo and perhaps even your creative side.
Sharing is caring.
The simple act of handing someone your card is like giving a gift. People are more likely to reciprocate by giving you one of their cards and they leave the encounter with something tangible that you gave them. They’ll see it later and be reminded of you.
If all you do is exchange email addresses digitally, that information goes into a giant database and is often forgotten. A well-designed business card is ten times more likely to be shared with someone else than a digital file because it represents more than a digital pathway, it is a brand presentation.
Scouts are always prepared.
Just like the trusty Scout, you should always be prepared to share your brand’s message with a potential client or prospective customer. Being prepared is a way of showing competency and professionalism and people take notice.
A phone number on a cocktail napkin or a cardboard coaster can be a prized acquisition, however, what sort of impression are you leaving when the potential client pulls out that napkin the next day (if any of it is left) and reads, “Lucy’s Lounge, Steve 555-5555”? Imagine the embarrassment when you have to scramble for a pen and paper when your competitor simply hands a beautifully designed, professional business card?
Ask yourself, who would you want to do business with? Be like the Scout, always prepared to smile, hand them your business card and shake there hand with a gentle but firm grip.
(Considering the awkward handshakes I was given at the last event I spoke at, I may have to write about Handshakes and the Proper Handshake Etiquette. For now, just Google it.)
Business Card Design
Here are some pointers concerning designing your business card. Remember that your card is first and foremost, a representation of your business and not your frustrated artist alter ego.
Be very thoughtful concerning the information you choose to share. Make it easy for someone to find your number, don’t hide in a sudoku puzzle. You should include the name you use to introduce yourself and you may also decide to include your job title, your company name, logo, and an email address if you wish to be contacted in that way. Possibly even the physical address for your business, especially if you rely on people walking through your doors.
Some other ideas of information you may want to include on your business card could be your company motto or mission statement. You may wish to follow the tradition of leaving the back side of the card blank, this is also very useful if you want to use them to write personal notes or messages on but if this card represents your one chance to leave an impression and you feel that the valuable real estate space on the back of your business card can help deliver a powerful message, then go for it.
While there are parameters of business card design that the industry can agree on such as using 12 point type or larger and ensuring there is adequate contrast between the background and the printed information; there are other aspects of the design process that are more fluid.
Freedoms can be taken with how large you wish to make the logo or whether or not to use a QR code to link to a company website or even a landing page. Clever uses of technology like QR codes for business cards or cards made out of mylar, wood, or metal can be a good way to get someone’s attention especially if you sell mylar products, woodwork, or metal fabrications. The idea is to make the clever add-on or clever design match your business’s brand and message.
When do I share a business card?
The right moment to share business cards is a comfort zone that will come with experience.
Usually, you would ask, “May I give you my card?” This normally comes after one has shown interest in you or your company and not before. You would not approach someone and ask for their number before you spoke to them and discovered a mutual attraction. A business card is similar; it is to be done after a connection is made and not before.
Your charming conversation or timely explanation of the relevance of your product or business would naturally come first. The card you leave behind is the sweet memory that will remind them of the need to contact you for more information.
In 2018 business cards are experiencing increased relevance in business interactions. Through your thoughtful design and patient use, they will prove to be a valuable pillar in any marketing campaign for years to come. If you want to have your business card professionally designed, our graphic designers and branding specialists can help. Contact Spade Design today and we can discuss some great options.