I was sitting at my computer a couple weeks ago. I was putting together the WebSpark Digital website and was contenplating the purchase of some business cards. In today's digital age, I don't see anyone "bumping" phones together to share contact information. At conventions, I still see a lot of business cards on the table, so it led me to the question, "are business cards still a worthwhile expense?"
Answering the question directly, I would have to say "YES!" Business cards have been carried since the 1700's. Back then, they were called "calling cards."
While your website may be one of the first points of contact in this digital world, the business card is still a formal introduction piece in face-to-face business interactions.
On the flip side though, How many people still use a "Roledex" to organize our contacts? How many times did you sift through your stack of business cards from the last networking event looking for leads? I have a shoebox full of business cards that I've collected over the years I've gone to conferences, attended networking events and met people on a per-chance basis. The number of times I've gone into that box? Probably once or twice in the past three years, and it was only to get the contact information for someone I couldn't find through Google searches.
Business Cards are a Formality
Other than passing out the cards as part of a formal introduction, business cards serve very little purpose if people can find you on the web easily. I have been blessed/cursed with a very unique name and if anyone looks me up on the search engines, they'll find me very quickly.
In most cases, the business card is more of a formality than a tool.
If your name is fairly common and it's hard to find you through a Google search, a business card may serve more of a real purpose than it does for me. Your clients and customers will inevitably try a Google search first (out of convenience or laziness) and if they don't come up with anything, they'll then try your business name, if they remember it next. Again, they'll try anything to avoid hunting around for your business card.
In the end, the business card serves as a last-ditch effort to find your contact information. Chances are that anyone under the age of 35 won't even go this far.
As much as we'd like to think that business cards are a necessary part of doing business, in my experience they're not most of the time... UNLESS...
The Functional, Memorable Business Card
I got business cards for my new business, WebSpark Digital, but spared no expense by using MOO.com (not a sponsered mention). I purchased some of the most expensive business cards they offer with the focus that these cards will still serve a very specific purpose.
These cards are thicker and smoother than your average business card. They're almost like chipboard or really dense cardboard.
Even though the 100 of them cost nearly $50 (Luxe Business Cards | Square Corner | Polar White | 2-Sided), handing one of these puppies out leaves a lasting impression (and takes $0.50 from my pocket).
They really stand out in a stack of cards. You rely on your senses more than you might realize, so if the extra thickness and whiteness of the cards doesn't catch your eye, your fingers will sure know the difference when they feel one of my cards. You know instantly that it's the card you're looking for.
The card feels really good in your hand. The cardstock is really thick and won't crumple in your pocket. Its matte finish doesn't have the recipient squinting in the harsh overhead CFL lighting of a conference room like those cheap gloss finish business card do, and on the back...
I've actually put a 5mm grid pattern so that either myself or my clients can jot notes or draw a small diagram, picture or flowchart. My business cards are designed to be useful as well as informative.
As a side note, I've also gone to conferences with extra fine-point Sharpie markers and given them away along with my business cards if the recipient needs to jot a note.
I've kept the front of the card as simple as possible. I only put the vital information that prospects need to get in touch with me. I use a clean font that can be easily scanned by phone or business card OCR scanners (and yes, test this with your phone and a real scanner to make sure that all your intormation is put into the right field).
For the phone number, use the +1 code so that any and every phone will be able to call you, even if it's from a foreign country. Using the +1 code (international dialing codes) enables any phone from anywhere in the world to call a United States number. The plus one tells the phone that the NPN NXX originates from America.
You may notice I don't use QR codes. This is also intentional. QR codes were all the rage in 2013 but next to no one uses them now (in the USA). If you aren't doing regular business with Japanese or Korean businesses, then don't bother putting a QR code on your card.
Finally, keep it clean. You want the focus to be on your contact information.
While you may think that you've found a really cool design, pretty pictures will detract from the focus and readibility by OCR software unless you are a photographer or graphic designer and really know how to make it work. Even then, I'd put those lavish images on the opposite side of your contact information.
Buying those "cheap" or economy business cards is just a waste of money. If your business cards don't stand out and serve a purpose, then don't buy them at all.
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