Since you’re reading this article online, the observation that we live in a digital society comes as no surprise. What might cause a raised eyebrow is the suggestion that business cards do continue to matter. This article will share several reasons why business cards are still important.
The business card has actually been around in some form or another since the fifteenth century! People in China would carry visiting cards that announced their importance. They would send the card ahead and request a meeting. This practice continued among the European elite in the seventeenth century.
Trade cards came next. Also used in the seventeenth century, these two-sided cards would announce a business on one side and have a map to its location on the other. During the Industrial Revolution, trade and visiting cards were combined into one. People used business cards to introduce themselves and their businesses. They are still serving a similar purpose for small business owners today.
This article discusses seven main reasons why business cards are still important:
- Efficiently promote a business
- Build human connection
- Expand brand awareness
- Lead to referrals
- Establish trust
- Click with the old-school audience
- Appeal to employees
Efficiently Promotes a Business
The business card remains an easy way to make a quick impression on potential customers. Cards continue to be useful when meeting with clients, attending a networking event, presenting at a conference, or participating in a trade show.
A business card is an efficient way to deliver your contact information. No matter how you design your business cards, all the essential details the customer or client need will be found here.
You might think you can easily send the information by sharing a digital contact with another person’s smartphone. But that only works when your phones are compatible. Since that’s not always the case, the business card continues to help.
Builds Human Connection
When exchanging business cards with someone else near you, make eye contact and maybe even shake hands (depending on social distancing practices). The exchange of small business cards is a kind of ritual of greeting.
In fact, in Japan, the exchange of business cards is highly valued. It’s a ritual known as “meishi.” According to a guide to living in Japan, “Business card etiquette is one of, if not the most important, area of Japanese business culture.” You have to know the hierarchical order to follow in handing out the cards—carefully hold your card in your right hand, bow, and say some words of greeting. Then, you accept the other person’s card with bow hands, holding it no higher than your chest, and making sure to examine it carefully.
Expands Brand Awareness
You’ll find all kinds of business card design ideas out there, but your card should be an extension of your brand. That means you’ll want to select your colors, typeface, and card finish with branding in mind.
Including your company logo is a given. It should appear prominently on one side of the card. In an upcoming blog, we’ll share the best business card ideas to inspire your design. You might also include the brand tagline or slogan. “Not only does it identify what your business actually does, but it also serves to separate you from your competitors.”
Leads to Referrals
You never know when that business card you hand out will lead to a new customer referral. If your card lets people know what your business is about and the expertise you offer, they can refer you when asked for a recommendation.
Business card design will matter in this case. The more memorable your card, the more likely someone is to pass your information on to someone else. As Jonathan Long notes in Entrepreneur, “If you hand over a creative business card that makes a great impression[,] that person is likely to show it to other people — putting you and your brand in front of additional prospects.”
In Japan, the quality of material used for your business card and your participation in the ritual will help establish trust. In Hong Kong as well, you’ll be expected to have a business card available to give when someone offers theirs to you. That boosts your credibility.
A well-designed and professional business card can help to evoke trust in any culture. As Long points out, people are more likely to want to do business with the person who can pull out a business card rather than with someone scrambling to find a pen and something to write down their contact info. He writes, “showing that you are prepared at all times is a great indicator that you are professional.”
Clicks With the Old School Audience
In a Forbes article entitled, “Is the Business Card Dead?,” the business card was acknowledged to be important to traditional audiences. Alex Quin said, “I believe business cards should always be handy, especially for audiences that tend to keep it old school and aren’t on the social media wave.”
Jeff Tan agreed: “Like a physical paperback compared to an e-reader, there is something still meaningful and personal in giving and receiving cards when meeting people.”
At the same time, many of the Forbes Agency Council respondents said the key is to use business cards and to also connect via LinkedIn, a business website, an online portfolio, or other social channels.
Appeals to Employees
Another reason for business cards? They can give your employees an added boost. Getting a business card with their name on it can help the individual feel connected to your business. GettingNeeding to get new business cards as they are promoted or change roles also support a sense of accomplishment.
With employee engagement playing such a pivotal part these days, the expense of a box of business cards is easily weighed against the value of letting individuals feel more important.
Better Business Cards
Now that you have an idea of why business cards are still important, you may be eager to give your business card a refresh. We’ve got a helpful article for that. Look out for our next article sharing the best business card design ideas.