Business cards are dead…………not

10 11 2015

SONY DSCAt times over the past few weeks I have had friends and customers tell me that “business cards are dead”. I had to smile since I was holding their very own business cards in my hand at the time.

I guess, due to being a seller of print, I have a very strong and biased opinion on the place and future of the humble business card…..i.e they are not dead. Let me explain why.

Many people use the rise of digital networking as the reason for the death of business cards. It’s true, that LinkedIn and other social/Business media can give you deeper insights into a person than the humble business card. But I’m sure that its also true that before someone checks out your Linked in profile – they are prompted by a business card they found in their pocket or purse.

I can’t imagine telling someone to “check me out on Linked In” without first giving them my card………I would be worried that they forgot my name for a start. Business cards are still an easy and quick way of handing someone all your contact info. I think that interested people are more likely to check you (or your organisation) out on digital platforms if they have your card for reference in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – Linked in is an awesome research tool. However, I have found that Linkedin can sometimes be well out of date and people are often not shy of embellishing their roles or history. I guess, in that respect, that LinkedIn has become pretty much the mobile CV of today. I have seen a few embellished CV’s.

Well there is my opinion – I’m sure it will get some responses. So lets get down to some interesting facts.about the humble business card.

 A Rich and Lengthy History

Business cards have been around since the 1400’s (originating in Asia). They became a standard item as “visiting cards” by the European nobility in the 16/1700’s – typically one would have their coat of arms along with their title embellished on one’s card. One’s footman would present the card to the servants of the person you were visiting who would in turn present it to their mistress or master.Mid to Late 1800's

By the 1800’s visiting cards morphed into calling cards and were being used by the upper and middle classes and mostly just had the persons name on the card. There was quite a bit of etiquette around the use of cards. For instance if the person was not at home they would fold the corner of the card indicating that they had called in person.Aquaintance Card

Slowly, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, cards had begun to be used for a wider variety of purposes other than visiting. This was primarily due to the invention of lithography which allowed more affordable printing with a variety of colours. Merchants began to use cards to provide directions to their establishments in busy city side streets and provide product information (marketing). Cards were even used for courting!!

By the early 20th century cards were used for a great variety of business and social purposes.

Einsteins Business Card

Today cards are taken less seriously in the western world – but there is still a lot of etiquette and protocol followed in Asia. You can run the risk of appearing rude, ignorant or even offensive if your card has a poor design and is not presented correctly ……….and you must handle others cards correctly to avoid upsetting them.

What Makes A Good Business Card

In summary – here are some tips to make sure you have a great business card that you will be proud of, will make the right impression and that others are tempted to keep instead of chuck in the recycling bin.

  • Hire a designer  we are spoiled for choice for designers in the deep South. A good designer will draw out what you want to project (even if you don’t know what that is yet ) and present that in a way your target market will respond positively to……..and……….. your cards will just look cool.
  • Use heavy weight card –  I did a stint working for a print firm in the UK in the 90’s. The first thing I noticed was that the standard weight business card in the UK was 350gsm…….at that time the standard weight card in NZ was 250gsm. When I enquired as to why they used such heavy card, I was told that 250gsm was considered cheap and flimsy. There is a definite perception of quality in heavy weight card.
  • Use an embellishment or three – before batch printing was available, embellishments such as lamination, raised gloss varnish (Spot UV) or die cut shapes were hugely expensive. Now your designer can incorporate all of these features into your cards at comparatively small premiums. Try a different shaped card or jazz it up with some texture and contrast. Make it stand out and invite comment.
  • Make sure your card is fit for purpose – your designer will go through this with you. Is you card primarily a networking tool for handing out at meetings? Is it strictly an information giver? Is it part of a sales kit or is it more like an original calling card? Does it need to blend in with other materials or stand out against them?
  • Consider Ordering Online – there are some awesome tools available for driving the cost of business cards down  – particularly for large organisations and franchise operations. Once your designer has come up with an awesome design, a template can be made so that on-line ordering is achievable. This takes out administration and set up costs, reduces delivery times and the frustration often associated with ordering business cards. I recently saved a corporate customer $10,000 per year on business cards …………and the cards arrive quicker and are on heavier stock…..no brainer really.

So let me know if you want some really cool business cards, want to look at reducing your costs ….or would just like to talk to a good designer.

The humble business card may be used less nowadays – but it still has a place in business promotion and networking.


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