Are Business Cards a Thing of the Past?
Spoiler alert: the answer is no. Business cards are definitely not obsolete, but they’re certainly not the networking currency that they used to be, either. Even still, 10 billion business cards are printed annually in the U.S., and sales increase 2.5% for every 2,000 cards handed out. So the question isn’t really whether people still use business cards or not. The question is how they use them.
Why They Still Matter
Business cards used to be a right of passage into the working world. They were also how people kept contacts at your fingertips – inside a Rolodex on their desks and in their briefcases.
Nowadays, we carry our Rolodex in our pocket, and it’s called an iPhone. We can easily access our business contacts from our phones, emails, and LinkedIn profiles. With that said, it should be no surprise that after networking, 88% of business cards are thrown out in less than a week. But what is surprising is that less than 10% of those that threw away the card reported doing so because they had saved the information digitally. That means even after searching and connecting online, people still keep business cards.
If your business card is sitting on the desk right at the moment of need, then your card is a tangible solution that they can touch, not just read on a screen. With our world shifting more digital, sometimes that visible, tangible card can make all the difference.
Tips for Cards that Stand Out
- Print professionally – While the DIY route may be tempting to cut costs, it could cost you business. In a survey from Statistic Brain, 72% of people said they judge a company by their business card, and nearly 40% will opt to do business with someone else if the business card looks cheap.
- Skip the titles – Unless it’s absolutely essential to your role, titles just make business cards more complicated. Constant reprinting and piles of outdated cards are not only a waste of trees, but also a waste of money. If you must have some identifier, large businesses especially, naming the department should be enough. There’s not as much movement there, and it can help jog the prospect's memory next time they take a look.
- Add a pop of color – Prospects keep colorful cards 10 times longer than white cards. While you certainly don’t need to overwhelm prospects with a rainbow, strategic and bold pops of color can make sure your card stands out in the stack.
- Make sure you’re more memorable than the card – While the look and feel of your business card are important, it won’t matter if you don’t make a genuine connection. Find some link with the people you network with, both professionally and personally. On the business communication spectrum, nothing is better than a face-to-face, real-life connection. Your business card never replaces that for new contacts; it just reminds them of it.
So no – business cards are not just for winning free bagels for the office from the local shop. It may not be first instinct to hand out business cards anymore, but if someone asks, it’s better to have it and give it with a smile.
And it’d better look good.