Business cards have been around since the seventeenth century, when they were used to announce the impending arrival of prosperous or aristocratic people to their local town. Since that time, they have evolved from social cards to vital pieces of business etiquette housing everything from company names and emails to twitter handles. However, with new technologies constantly emerging, and the use of smart phones, do we really need them any longer?
A recent article from The Boston Globe details the author’s experience at a networking event. The attendees were “mostly young and full of energy, part of a culture raised to embrace electronic devices of all kinds.” One may assume that they would not want to bother with something as low-tech as a printed business card.
The author noted, however, that both the employers and job-seekers all carried business cards in their pockets, along with their high-tech devices. After speaking with a few of these patrons, some interesting notes arose:
- Business cards are actually faster than modern technology, including smart phone apps like “Bump” which allow you to transfer contact information from one phone to another. When you are shaking someone’s hand in a momentary greeting, handing them a business card is much more efficient.
- There isn’t a global digital solution (yet). With a variety of smart phone platforms from Apple to Android, finding an app transfers information seamlessly has yet to be perfected. The risk of the other person not having the same software that you do is simply not worth it.
- Many people prefer the unique appearance of the individual cards, and how they relate to the person or company from which they were received. A new contact or potential client is much more likely to remember your card and logo rather than a contact link on their smart phone. You’re going to walk home and pull out all your business cards from your day and say, “Oh, right, I remember that guy.”
- Many networking events and trade shows offer prizes if you drop your business card into a box. You can’t exactly drop your smart phone into a fishbowl.
- Cards also allow you to have greater control over who receives your information. After an awkward conversation with someone you would rather not meet again, you can always pretend to have run out of cards to distribute.
- And, most importantly, business cards are tangible. Businesses who must fight to be taken seriously by prospective customers and investors talk about the sense of legitimacy they get from seeing their names and titles printed on quality card stock. They say that in the startup world — where businesses often don’t last long — it’s nice to hold something that feels kind of permanent.
When we are meeting with a new company to discuss their marketing options, the ever-present recommendation is to start with a great business card. It is a quick and affordable way to promote yourbusiness in the most efficient way possible, while still allowing your company’s personality to be present.