Importance of Business Cards
Thanks to the “Digital Revolution” it’s become a common misconception amongst professionals that business cards are dead. When you think about it, it’s hard to blame people for coming to that conclusion. With SEO, email automation, and all of the different automated marketing funnels out there, it would seem that business cards are pointless. But, the importance of business cards hasn’t disappeared, it merely looks different.
The Importance of Business Cards Has Changed
More often than not, we now have all of a potential lead or new business partner’s contact information before we ever meet in person. Forbes even posted an article a couple years back that literally ran the title, “Business Cards Are Dead.” But in reality, that’s just not the case. Business cards aren’t dead, the way we use them has simply evolved (kind of). That evolution does not detract from the importance of business cards in your marketing strategy. And frankly, the way that most of us use them is just wrong. It used to be that your business card was your principal method of sharing and receiving contact information. Just a couple decades ago that really was still the case.
However, the importance of business cards has now shifted to making a statement and marking an interaction than sharing contact info. This may seem like evolution, but if you trace the origin of business cards you’ll find that we’re actually getting back to their roots. If you really want to stand out, we recommend embossed business cards!
Click the infographic to download the pdf version.Click the infographic to download the pdf version.
A Brief History Behind Business Cards
Modern Business cards are the descendants of 15th century Chinese “Visiting Cards” which marked the arrival of a visitor, a new contact. They were used much like they are (should be) today, to mark an interaction that happened in person. It was another 500 years before they made the transition into modern day business cards, with the first color card being printed right here in the US. So, getting back to the current day with the advent of the digital communications age. The question is, what is the modern importance of business cards, and how do I use them? The answers… unique and as a follow through, not a starting point.
Business Card Design
Let’s start off with the design. Forever, business cards have boiled down to three main specifications. 3.5” by 2” rectangle, Company Logo, Contact Information. It’s gotten to the point where you can swap the logos on different business cards and only the most attentive individuals would notice the change. So how do you make your business cards stand out? This boils down to a new set of 3 specifications. Custom Shape(that still fits in regular card holders), Alternative Materials(reflective foil, spot UV, metal or plastic business cards), and something personal. That last one’s the hard part and really depends on the type of brand image you’re trying to convey.
The folks over at Sticky Branding have an excellent example of personalization(that ties into our next key point). “One of the more interesting business cards is Steve Martin’s.” It states, “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.” And he signs the card when he hands it out. The card acts as a memento.”
That right there is practically the definition of what business cards are about today. It’s not about sharing contact information anymore because the internet has already done that for us. Instead, it’s about marking an occasion, leaving potential leads and new associates with a concrete souvenir to remember you by. Business cards help you make an impression.
That’s why more than ever before, unique cards and especially those made from unique materials are king. So let’s double back a tiny bit to, “Alternative Materials(reflective foil, spot UV, METAL CARDS)” and specifically that tail end, Metal Cards. We’ve reached the point where it is unnecessary to give your card to every single contact you have. So instead of trying to save a couple pennies and printing thousands of plain, boring business cards(90% of which will be thrown out almost immediately) take your time, come up with a stellar design(even if you need to hire a designer) and choose a unique material like metal. So far in my career I’ve received just 2 metal business cards, and let me tell you, they are not soon for the garbage bin. (Not to mention they feel more sturdy than my pack-rat’s wallet.)
The Art of Distribution
When you hand out your business cards, you shouldn’t be handing them out to just anybody, you should be handing them out to qualified leads and new contacts. It used to be “good practice” to arrive at an event early and lay your business cards out at every seat. Go ahead and do that now, you’ll just be laughed at. Handing over your business card should be the last step in your interaction with a potential new lead or contact. Open the communication, build rapport, then give them something to remember you by.
Even high-quality business cards designed by teams of experts are a waste of money if you don’t use them correctly. If you take just one thing from this article, let it be this. When designing your business cards and handing them out, it’s not about contact info anymore but rather marking the occasion. Some would say the importance of business cards is evolving. We now know they’re actually just getting back to basics.