In a world where meetings happen in cyberspace and a small business’s new marketing campaign is more likely to involve tweets than billboards, few ‘old school’ ways of conducting business have survived unscathed.
The business card is a humble exception. Although plenty of digital methods of storing and transferring contacts exist, there is still no substitute for the inherent value in handing someone your card. From making a strong first impression to solidifying a lasting business relationship, the paper trail that a card provides remains an invaluable tool.
Think twice before scrapping that hearty card stock in your wallet, and consider these reasons that carrying a card still matters to the health of your small business:
1. Cards are Timeless. Just like newspapers and books, digital alternatives to business cards now exist. It’s possible to send a virtual card with all of your contact media and social media links via email, or simply bump phones with another person to transfer data back-and-forth.
Don’t count on these methods working for everyone, however. There are always a few veteran business owners out there who wear their disdain for computers like a badge of pride, preferring the old way of doing things. It’s okay to ‘bump’ with like-minded acquaintances, but keep a card on hand as your default method of exchanging contacts
2. Direct Marketing is Effective. Exchanging cards is typically accompanied by a face-to-face conversation and a handshake. Whether you’re sealing a deal, making a hire, or establishing a partnership, there’s nothing more valuable than an actual in-person meeting. You never know when you’ll run into a potentially valuable contact, so it’s important to be prepared — at lunch, at the store, and especially at social gatherings.
Leaving a new contact with your card provides a reminder of your encounter. When they pull your card from their pocket, they’ll recall your conversation and be more likely to follow up with you. Although the ability to instantly be added to an online address book has its place, it can mean sacrificing the value that a paper reminder provides.
3. A Card Makes An Impression. Handing someone your business card is your first opportunity to back up your words with a tangible example of your style and professionalism. If you work in a creative field, your card should show off your ideas and bright mind. Likewise, a lawyer or businessperson may want to convey strength or elegance.
When designing your card, don’t feel like you have to go overboard. Blank space is okay and can be preferable to cluttering your card with unnecessary pictures or text. Include a phone number, an email, your job title, and perhaps a line with your specialties or areas of expertise.
4. The Price is Right. The most infallible reason for carrying a card may simply be, ‘Why not?’ With all of the benefits an intelligent, effective card can have, it’s foolish not to keep them on hand, especially when the cost is so low, in comparison to most other types of marketing materials. Priced against commercials, product samples, and press kits, business cards are a deal that fits any small business’s budget.
5. Cards Can Be Tech Savvy. Just because you’re sticking with paper, you can still have the best of both worlds. Many people now utilize QR codes — the square barcodes that can be scanned with a smartphone — to direct people to their small business’s website or their social media pages. Code generators are easy to use online. Consider using the space on the back of your card for the code. In one piece of cardstock that comfortably fits in your palm, you now have the benefits of both a traditional card, as discussed in this post, and the ability to instantly link people to your online presence.
Think of your business card as an extension of yourself. The information it includes, and the style you convey it in, reinforces the impression you make in person and helps to spread your brand out into the world.
Author: Erin Schwartz is the marketing and social media manager at 123Print.com. 123Print is a leading provider of a high variety of quality items for small businesses like custom business cards, address labels, and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.