What do you consider your most important piece of marketing material? Your catalog? Your direct mail? Your advertisements? Your social media accounts? How about your business card? Is that still as important as it once was or has it been replaced with LinkedIn and other contact apps on your never-more-important smartphone?
Historically, your business card has often been the first impression of your company and yourself. Although they may not always be the first impression anymore, with so many of us ‘meeting’ and networking online; I would argue that they are still a critical part of your marketing arsenal.
Things change, business evolves, and the world keeps turning. This is also true with business cards. Their presentation and strategy may have changed, but their purpose is still the same. They are no longer always the first way to exchange contact information. However, they now have much more potential.
Business Cards Make a Lasting Impression
Simply passing out business cards at a networking event can make a lasting impression, given the fact that many people have chosen to forgo this once mandatory networking strategy. Now, however, business cards can be a great way to become more memorable. And, it’s an easy way to ensure the connections you’re making have your name, correct spelling, company, and position handy when they are searching for you later online. This can help avoid them connecting with the wrong Sally Miller next week on LinkedIn.
Considerations for Creating Your Business Cards
I’ve always advocated for attractive and accurate business cards. Now, it’s even more critical that they make a good impression because they are much more than just a card with your phone number on it. They are an extension of your brand. Business cards can be incredibly creative and personalized. And, they are more personal than the standard LinkedIn invitation.
That being said, make sure that your cards mirror the brand you are portraying everywhere else. Make sure the colors match, the look is the same, the wording and taglines match up. The last thing you want to do is create a disconnect. Your card should match your website, social media channels, and other marketing materials. When creating your card, think about the most important networks to include.
Where do you most want to interact with colleagues? LinkedIn? Twitter? Instagram? Your website? In this day in age, most of us have a dozen places where we can be reached, but you don’t want to list them all on your business card. You want to keep it clean and attractive. Sometimes, less is more. So, choose your most visited avenues and list them only.
Distributing Your Business Cards
Physically presenting your business card to someone is a great opportunity in itself. If you are at a meeting, an event, or a conference, try to take advantage of the opportunity as much as possible. Know your audience and make sure your card is in line with that. Make sure that your card is going to build on the in-person impression that you just made. Face-to-face interaction is still important even for those of us who conduct most of our business online. And, offering a business card at an in-person meeting is much more professional and appropriate than typing their contact info into your smartphone.
Sometimes, I’m sure, you will distribute cards without meeting someone first. Then, the card may genuinely be the first impression. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure it’s accurate and without typos. And, you’ll want to make sure that it’s attention-grabbing in some way, but not over the top in an obnoxious way. Keep it simple, clean, and memorable.
Getting New Clients with Business Cards
One of the most common ways that I get new clients is through referrals. Business cards are a fantastic way to improve on this. If you have a regular referral program, you can give your clients business cards to pass along. On the other hand, if you have an organization that you work with regularly and want to suggest them to someone, having their business card on hand can be extremely helpful in helping you to pass along the correct contact information.
Refresh Their Memory
Think about the last time you exchanged business cards with someone. Was it recently? Was it memorable? What’s the most memorable business card you’ve ever been given? Was it practical? Did you keep it? Business cards can be a great way to spark a memory of who a person is, where you met them or what they do. This can help set you apart from the massive sea of people that most people are ‘friends’ with online.
Remember, the quality of your business card (and other promotional materials) directly reflects the quality of your business. It also reflects your personal style. Designing your card is not something you should take lightly, but rather plan with thought. What do you want people to envision when they first see your business card? How can you make that a ‘wow moment?’
Are Business Cards Dead?
In a time when smartphones and technology are replacing printed materials, I’m still a fan of the printed business card. I think that a physical piece that you can hold onto is valuable for many reasons. It’s not just a point of reference but a branding opportunity and another way to make an impression.
What do you think? Are business cards dead, or a viable marketing tool? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
Originally published July 28, 2015. Content updated October 24, 2018.