Hello dear readers, today we have a guest post on the topic of the business card. Is it still important? Do you still carry one?
If you’re networking to establish lasting work relationships, even a business person with a veritable army of LinkedIn connections will acknowledge that nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. Given that understanding, why would that same skilled networker compromise their ability to be remembered by a potential new work connection?
Technology may simplify life, but used indiscriminately, something seemingly helpful may actually not work in our favor. Take, for example, the app ‘Bump.’ The eighth most popular free app of all time on Apple’s App Store, Bump allows Android and iPhone users to simply tap their phones together to exchange contact information.
Terrific idea, right? Yes, mostly. In plenty of situations, Bump is a terrific timesaver. Just met a girl at a bar? Bump her and see where it takes the conversation. Need to get an old friend’s new telephone number? Bump away.
But what about the attorney you just met via a mutual friend at dinner? He offered to call you next month and look over your business’ incorporation papers. It sounded like he could save you a bundle, so you’ll want to make sure he remembers you.
Unfortunately, you ‘Bumped’ him. Sure, he’s got all of your contact information compactly stored in his phone — along with thousands of others. Hopefully you made a truly memorable first impression and he’s a man-of-his-word, because you’ve passed up the invaluable moment when he’s quietly at home and pulls your business card out of his pocket, or the ‘Oh yeah, I need to call that guy’ recollection when he finds it in his wallet a week later. All for the ease of a Bump.
There’s a reason paper’s stock has grown for 22 consecutive centuries. When you need to convey information that will be shared and remembered, there’s still no better medium.
Let’s think for a moment in marketing terms. Why do you think that businesses still hire people to stand on street corners and pass out flyers, despite all of the digital displays surrounding them?
You’ve got something to sell, and you need to get the word out to as many people as possible for the cheapest price. Perhaps a billboard (electronic or print) costs $1,000 a day, and 20,000 people are expected to view it in that time. That’s a cost of .05 cents per person. Alternatively, a bulk flyer might cost as little as .03 cents a copy and be cut into four copies. For less than a penny per person, you’re guaranteed to be directly reaching any customer who takes the flyer.
The traditional business card does even better. You’re not blindly handing out your card on street corners are you? Chances are, each person that received your card at a cocktail hour or trade show looked you in the eye, gave you a warm smile, and shook your hand.
Whether you’re simply promoting yourself or representing your business, that’s irreplaceable marketing that won’t soon be replaced by a digital bump.
Standing the Test of Time
Marketing trends shift faster than the gears on a rusty bicycle chain, and are equally hard to keep up with when they’re rolling.
Just a decade ago, a prime time television spot was the best (and most expensive) method to promote a product. Print media, from newspapers to magazines, still held major clout as well. Although those mediums are still viable, the most successful ad campaigns spread themselves online. Remember last year’s Old Spice ‘Smell Like a Man’ campaign? With millions of hits for each of its videos, it generated buzz that even a 30-second Super Bowl spot would drool over.
Social media allows smart marketing to travel on its own legs, and there’s no reason your business card shouldn’t do the same. Cards now include Twitter handles, Facebook links, and even QR codes. Ideas for incorporating myriad social media contact info are abundant, and why not? Before the advent of the ‘bump,’ being memorable had as much to do with what was on your card as the fact that you had one at all.
The point is to stay up-to-date with emerging technology while keeping a firm foothold in what’s tried-and-true. ‘Traditional’ business cards haven’t lost their pound-for-pound marketing power just because digital alternatives have arrived. Keep them up-to-date with the latest social media, and a print card still carries more weight (both literally and figuratively) than its cyber-substitute.
Looking for a real one-two punch? Follow your ‘bump’ with a paper chaser, and you’re bound to remembered.
Do you disagree and think that paper’s days are numbered? What other ways do you ensure that you’ll make a lasting impression when networking?
Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com, a leading provider of high quality customizable items like business cards, letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.