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Rethinking the
Role of the
Business Card

Blog Post

Does this old-school staple still have a place in our digital world?

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SeanCushing2015

Sean Cushing, Director
Product and Vertical Marketing

If you believe predictions about the impact millennials are having today, you might think business cards are an endangered species. However, video didn’t kill radio, email didn’t kill direct mail and from the looks of it, LinkedIn hasn’t killed business cards either. That’s because digital, mobile and social contact management strategies are enhancing this cornerstone of business networking, not replacing it.

The history of introducing yourself

Oddly enough, business cards didn’t originate from a business need. In a blog article posted by one of our sister companies, Navitor, Paula Brewers explains most historians believe business cards have their roots in visiting cards, originally used in the 15th century for aristocrats and royalty to announce their arrival to their hosts.

Brewers goes on to describe how in the 1600s, visiting cards evolved into calling cards in European society. Calling cards were often used “to explain the purpose of the visit, whether that was to congratulate, express condolences, say goodbye to the neighbors or to say ‘thank you.’”

The transition to business use

From there, it’s easy to see how calling cards made the transition to trade cards, which were used by local craftsmen and merchants to promote their services and location. That eventually led to the first generation of printed business cards: basic black type on one side of a small white card. It wasn’t long before smart business people who understood the importance of first impressions realized this simple piece of paper could be so much more.

From embossed type and color photography to die cuts and high-end paper stocks, business cards started being designed to stand out, not just introduce. They make an initial connection more memorable, can be shown to and shared with others and often are retained for future reference. The right combination of design and print techniques can help distinguish you, your brand and your company from the competition.

Even in today’s digital age, 27 million business cards are printed daily. See more facts and stats about business cards in this infographic.

How can you elevate your business card?

Think of your business card as a tangible technology. While space may be limited, incorporating a URL, QR code or NFC technology that links to online content provides instant access to additional information, extending the engagement you have with the prospect. This video on augmented reality goes into more detail about how the feature is being used in marketing today.

Make your business card physically stand out. One popular technique today is layered business cards to increase thickness. You can add luxury finishes such as suede or silk laminate, spot UV coating, soft touch coating, foil or metallic ink. What if you didn’t use paper at all? Alternative materials include magnet, metal or wood. Let your imagination run wild and then discuss the possibilities with your vendor.

The business card remains an important tool in your marketing mix. As Felicia Tsung pointed out in her Entrepreneur.com Office Tech blog article, Are Business Cards Still Relevant? ,“(Business cards) offer the benefit of being both visual and tactile representations of your brand. The physical exchange and engagement creates a connection that can’t be recreated by LinkedIn or your website.” It not only establishes credibility and demonstrates your preparedness at the initial meeting, it can also help to maintain the relationship too by bridging the gap between print and digital.

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