Do business cards really matter?
If you follow headlines such as these: "Do I need business cards?" or "Why have a business card?" you may think that the days of business cards are over. Over the years we’ve been told to never attend a networking event without them. You’ve been told to collect them – even though they seem to end up in a pile that you never seem to visit, although you have all the best of intentions to file them and follow up on each one.
Sometimes you even add the names on these cards to your LinkedIn contacts, all the while wondering if it’s a good idea to hang on to the gazillions of cards you’ve picked up along the way.
You know what though? It’s not an all or nothing proposition these days. There are ways to use business cards to help you stand out from the pack and that small card in someone’s hand can give you a step up in your marketing and relationship building activities for you and your business.
What's the card, what's the story?
You don’t have to stick to the uninspiring, plain-jane card listing your name and place in the company, you can rework this blank-slate 3x5 inch card with in intro to your unique story. With some focus you can share some key points from your elevator pitch along with the must-have info right on your card.
Using photos, colour and selected typefaces you can make this powerhouse piece of paper (it doesn’t even have to be a rectangle if there’s an shape that would be more supportive of your industry). There are many creative business card templates out there to get you thinking outside of the traditional “biz card” box. Check Google or Pinterest if you need some help or suggestions.
Reasons why business cards still matter
Swapping contact information should be personal
We know that the act of networking is all about making real connections with others. Sending your information by email or text might seem quick and easy but it doesn’t say much for having a real conversation with someone, being able to see their face, their tone and body language as you build connection (check out the people engaged with their phones over there). With digital swapping of your contact information there’s nothing to remember about the other person once the “encounter” is over.
A good business card is a powerful branding tool
You want the potential connection you just made to walk away with a great impression of you and your business, right? When you take the time to create a memorable business card it will do so much more than pass along you email address, phone number and/or your website URL.
Don’t let the word “cheap” be attached to your business card! You are proud of the time and effort you’ve put into building your business and want to make sure your marketing efforts reflect your professionalism and caring. Don’t let this first impression of your business say, “I’m a cheap, corner-cutting, don’t understand true value of my business/I’m not that confident in what I’m doing” person (unless that’s the message you want to convey, of course). You don’t have to spend a fortune on your business card, but do make sure the quality is what you need. Don’t let there be an excuse for overlooking and undervaluing this branded marketing asset.
I know it happens, but writing your contact info on the cocktail napkin doesn’t always come across as the most professional way of doing things. Having your business cards handy lets people know you’re prepared to engage with them. Keep in mind that this card is an inexpensive direct marketing tool.
You can work with your graphic designer to create an intriguing card that includes the features listed here, or you can look to some of the more interesting online services such as www.moo.com (my favourite), or www.vistaprint.com to help you stand out. Just remember to include the basic information when working on adding points from your elevator-pitch!
Here's another thought. You still need business cards because sometimes “old-school” still has value. There’s no downtime with a business card.
Ways to use your business card
Everything you do to promote your business is about adding value for your potential clients. You can have your business card help you out with adding value by thinking outside the box and using the space on your card to:
- Promote your website
- Provide a valuable coupon for your products or services
- Showcase your products or services
- Hand-write your special, unlisted direct contact number so people can contact you directly and have a reason to hang on to your card.
When & where to distribute your card
Now that you’ve created this card that sells you and your business, you may want to add a few more distribution options outside of the standard networking meeting hand out process. Here are a few of items that might work for you:
- Include a few business cards in your direct mail or early correspondence
- Put your business card in relevant books at the library
- Give cards to family & friends to make sure they always have a few cards to distribute when they're out and about
- Ask local businesses to let you place your cards on their counters
Big up your card!
We’ve been talking about the simple, under rated card you’ve been carrying around for some time now. It’s not very sexy and your more than a little underwhelmed by the whole thing, I know.
You can and should take advantage of the technology most people are now carrying around these days to distribute your information. I’m talking about the NFC feature in most smart phones today. NFC stands for Near Field Communications and it works quickly and easily by being able to transmit information directly to another NFC enabled device nearby.
NFC is defined as: NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 cm distance. NFC is an upgrade of the existing proximity card standard (RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device. ~ www.gsmarana.com
Online business card providers are now taking advantage of this technology by adding NFC chips to business cards for you to buy. www.moo.com has produces a new product called Business Cards+ that makes your cards even more valuable. You can customize your cards to:
- Add an action to Add your link (or any link) Share your website, portfolio, event invite, playlist, or your favorite cat video. If it has a URL, you can link it.
- Add an action to Make a Digital Business Card that People can call, message, or save your contact details by simply tapping your card.
- Add an action to Promo your app. There’s an app for that — yours. Share your Google Play or Apple App Store download instantly.
- Add an action to Get people hooked into all your social and professional profiles in one tap.
Adding options like any of these to your business card certainly expands the usefulness of your card, making it more memorable and focused for your everyday use. Not only do you get to take advantage of the regular template library if you need some help to create your card, you get also get to program and maintain your card’s actions from a central online site.
Talk about extending the life of your card! I’m looking forward to trying them out in the very near future. I’m sure Moo isn’t the only company that does this so you may want to do a little research (although Moo is a great choice). If you’re interested in what this looks like, check out this short video that will let you know what to expect:
So, let’s get back to the original question: Do you really need business cards? I hope this post gets you thinking about just what you can achieve with your own cards – particularly when you start to think outside the (business card) box. I’m looking forward to reworking my cards, and expect to be a little more excited about handing them out in the very near future.
They’re not as old fashioned as you think. They are adapting and becoming relevant again. Make the most of this cheap marketing tool. Now, what to do. What about you? What will you do with your business cards?