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Do You Really Need a Business Card?

In this world of ever-increasing apps promising us greater connectivity, you may have asked yourself if you really need a business card.  We can connect with others in a variety of ways right from our smartphone.  Why, then, do we need something as archaic as a tiny piece of paper imprinted with our names?

Business cards seem a little old-fashioned.  With their roots in formal calling cards used by aristocrats in the 17th century, business cards morphed into trade cards with the dawn of the industrial age.  By the 20th century, cards touting a person’s line of work and contact information became the status quo.  In some parts of the world, business cards of today are very formal and are exchanged with a great deal of pomp and ceremony.

In the U.S., cards are often considered a necessary evil or an afterthought.  With cheap cards available online, many people put very little thought into what is actually printed on the card.  Business cards can seem an unnecessary expense and unimportant in today’s business landscape.

Dismissing business cards as a throwback to the mad men era of business is missing the point entirely.

Despite their diminutive size, business cards can have a big impact.  Your card may be the first impression you make with a potential client.  It’s a tangible representation of your brand and one that people can keep indefinitely.

Business cards are accessible anytime – there’s no downtime and they work even in those times when people are not connected online.  And there’s no need to worry that they’re compatible with someone’s software or device.

Swapping contact information via phone might be quick (or maybe not for those who find typing on a smartphone challenging and slow) yet it refocuses attention away from the person at hand and down to the digital device.  Placing a printed business card in someone’s hand doesn’t require a lapse in attention or eye contact during the process.   Instead, the swap reinforces the connection.

Technology can make information sharing impersonal.  Business cards allow us to connect to someone in the real world.

Even the nicest printed business cards are still relatively inexpensive and easy to carry (and distribute).  And that little piece of real estate can be made even more impactful by the addition of a head shot, a QR code to your LinkedIn page or even a map to your brick and mortar location.

Business cards are a great place to tack on a special offer, giving people even more incentive to hang onto your business card.

In our digital world where we remain constantly connected, a printed business card might seem a little antiquated.  Yet, that 3.5” x 2” piece of paper can still serve a useful purpose.  Do you really need a business card?  Absolutely.  Sometimes tradition can be of use well into the future.

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | April 2016

Emergency Preparedness for Businesses

How prepared is your business for an emergency?  Perhaps you’ve drilled your employees in the proper responses to things like fire and extreme weather, but do you have a plan in place in the event of an attack or armed gunman? Do your employees know what to do if faced with an active shooter?

Unfortunately, recent events have proven that this type of incident is occurring with more frequency and in the most unlikely places. It’s becoming more and more important for business owners to discuss these types of events with their employees and to develop action plans should they occur.

Emergency Preparedness Plans for businesses and public venues now must include procedures for dealing with the frightening possibility of an armed gunman whose only goal is to cause harm.

“Run, Hide, Fight” has become the mantra for active shooter training.

“Run, Hide, Fight” has become the mantra for active shooter training. It represents a 3-part response plan designed to keep the public as safe as possible.    It’s an easy-to-remember phrase that can help panicked employees react when there isn’t time to analyze a situation.

RUN – Experts from FEMA and law enforcement agencies agree that evacuating the area immediately around an active shooter is the best plan of action. Do your employees know the best exits from every part of your business? Do you have a rendezvous point established so you can make sure everyone has gotten out safely?

HIDE – If you can’t flee the scene without putting yourself or others in more danger, experts recommend you do your best to be as inconspicuous as possible. Have you reviewed potential safe zones and hiding places with your employees? Do you have a plan of action in place to account for customers and other visitors who might be on sight?

FIGHT – If there is absolutely NO possibility of escape or when no safe shelter is available, the last resort is to attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter. Do your employees know the safest way to distract an active shooter?

The Department of Homeland Security has published a booklet entitled “Active Shooter: How to Respond” which contains useful information including what to expect when first responders arrive on the scene. Download it for free from their website.

No business should have to deal with active shooter situations. Unfortunately, those incidents continue to occur and responsible business owners need to plan accordingly.  Do you have your plan in place?

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | March 2016

Print vs. Paperless

Tree FarmChances are you’ve never heard of digital deforestation.  It’s a relatively new way to look at the environmental impact caused by the switch from printed material to digital forms of communication.  Things like email, online magazines, newspapers, and even paperless billing have an environmental impact all their own.

Digital technology uses a tremendous amount of resources.  All our data has to be stored somewhere. The digital “cloud” is, in reality, a large data center somewhere.  Most likely, it’s a series of server farms in multiple locations.

The largest server farm is 1.1 million square feet in size — as large as 20 football fields.

Large data centers require vast resources to operate.  They consume resources when built and convert huge tracts of water-absorbing land into expanses of concrete and pavement.  The accompanying cellular towers that carry all this cloud technology are dotting the landscape with ever increasing frequency.  These claim their own share of land and environmental resources.   And at the tail end of the technology life cycle are ever-growing mountains of discarded computer equipment piling up in landfills, posing risks to wildlife and ground water.

As of 2014, there were over 250,000 cell towers located in the U.S.

As it turns out, paperless communication isn’t as green as once thought.  And printing on paper isn’t necessarily as bad as we’ve been made to believe.  In fact, printing – is actually a sustainable business practice that can make good environmental sense.

Paper is good.  Paper is made from trees which benefit the environment in a number of ways.  Trees reduce soil erosion.  Trees recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Trees provide habitat for wildlife.  The responsible harvesting of mature trees makes room for new tree growth.  Flourishing woodlands are a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Trees are the ultimate “green” product.  And the paper made from trees is recyclable.  In fact, paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle and reuse.

Roughly 67% of the paper discarded in 2014 was recycled.

Most trees used for paper production in the U.S. are now grown on sustainable tree farms.  Tree farming creates thousands of jobs for Americans and pumps millions of dollars back into our economy.   The forest products industry in the U.S. has pushed for industry-wide adoption of sustainable forestry practices that include environmental impact reviews and sustainability certifications.

That push to make the paper industry “greener” has filtered down to commercial consumers of paper products.  Most paper suppliers now provide products that that are manufactured using cleaner energy and using more ecologically sound processes than was the case 20 years ago.

Resource conservation is always a good idea and there are times when going paperless makes good sense.  However, before opting out of printing altogether, consumers may want to take another look at the environmental impact of their decision.  Sometimes, putting ink on paper may be the greener option.

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | February 2016

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