Don’t Forget the Paper – Why Business Cards Still Matter
(Thanks to Christopher Wallace for today’s guest post.)
There’s a curious phenomenon going around.
Last week at a conference meet-and-greet, I met a man who lives in Phoenix, a city I often visit for my job. We connected on a work level and talked about doing business together soon. He even offered to take me golfing at the exclusive club where he has a membership.
Eventually the conversation came to the point that we exchange cards — except that he didn’t have one.
“I gave them up a few months ago,” he said, explaining that he now utilizes a smartphone app called Bump to trade contact information. I’d heard of it before, but hadn’t yet downloaded it to my Android phone. As it turns out, it’s the 8th most popular free app ever.
Even if you’re not exchanging contact information by bumping phones together, chances are that you’ve sent or received electronic business cards online. This technology is incredibly useful — in a split-second, you’ve got someone’s phone, email, website, and pertinent social media handles stored into your contacts, without having to type anything into your device or computer.
Nevertheless, there’s something deeper that’s missing in these exchanges. Before you considering going completely digital to distribute your contact information, consider these important points:
Paper Helps You To Be Remembered
Follow-up contact is important after making a business connection. Although Facebook has now acquired a chunk of this market share from business cards, even that outlet isn’t as effective. The moment when someone pulls a card from their pocket or wallet and remembers meeting you — oftentimes days or weeks later — is invaluable.
If you immediately join a vast sea of electronic contacts upon meeting someone, chances are you’ll never be thought of again. On the other hand, if later on, they take the time to type your contact info into their phone or computer, you’ve just jumped up on the importance-meter.
There’s a second, on-the-spot advantage to business cards as well. How many times have you been introduced to someone and then launched into a lengthy conversation, only to realize minutes later that you didn’t retain their name?
Break out your card. Chances are, they’ll hand you one too. A quick glance will remind you of their name, personalizing your parting words, instead of leaving you standing there awkwardly when they call you by name and you’re left speechless.
Business Cards are Cheap and Timeless
Pound-for-pound, there’s no marketing tool more cost-efficient than the traditional business card. The concept of a ‘calling card’ dates back to 15th century China, and it’s only been growing since. That’s because business cards can cost just pennies to print.
Compare that to the going rate of a billboard along a major thoroughfare in your town or a 30-second spot on television. Both of these mediums are constantly evolving. Billboards have gone digital, with complicated pay scales. TV ads are being usurped by viral YouTube videos.
It’s hard to keep up. But what’s one of the first things any new business owner does when they’re ready to open up shop? They order business cards. That’s a ‘trend’ that’s not going to fade anytime soon.
Cards Get Right to the Point
Our jobs aren’t as simple as they used to be. Sometimes, they’re best explained by a graphic, a company logo, or a bullet point breakdown of the services you offer. Business cards let you do all of that. Of course, design is of the utmost importance. If no one has ever complimented your business card, it’s likely either boring or unattractive. Think of ways you can convey your strongest attributes and put them on your card. You want to seem memorable, qualified, and professional.
Of course, just because you’re using an old-school form of self-marketing doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t adapt. If you work in a different city every week, do you really need a physical address on your card? Maybe not, but you may find it useful to include your Twitter handle. Perhaps you’re a designer or creative-type — why not use your card to point potential clients to your Pinterest page?
Remember to stick with a standard-sized card. You want to stand out, but not in an annoying, ‘doesn’t-fit-in-your-wallet’ kind of way. White space is your friend. Don’t feel like you have to fill every square millimeter of space. Convey your contact information clearly and attractively, and you’ll have a winner of a card.
I’ll admit it. I downloaded the Bump app to my phone this week. It’s a useful tool, especially for updating the contact info of old friends and acquaintances. Still, I wouldn’t be caught dead at a trade show without a stack of cards.
From billboards to commercials to print ads, traditional media marketing involves somewhat-blindly putting information out there and hoping the right potential customers will see it. With business cards, your information goes straight into the hands of people you’ve already had face-to-face contact with, encouraging them to remember you after you’ve parted ways.
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in custom pens and other promotional items such as calendars, laptop bags and T-shirts. Christopher regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.
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