Everything we do in business today is digital, especially since Covid-19 hit and we’re all working from various places. Sending mail, signing contracts, attending meetings—even networking events are happening digitally. So where does that leave business cards?
Business cards have a history that is deeply ingrained into many cultures and customs. All the way back in the 15th Century, calling cards were used in China to announce an intention to meet another individual. In 17th Century London, business cards were used to tell people where a shop was (they didn’t have street numbers yet). Even now, just under 10 billion business cards are printed annually in the United States alone.
Here are ten reasons why having business cards is still important, and why you should be carrying them with you at all times.
- People expect you to have one. Even in 2020, the corporate world is filled with business cards. There are lots of reasons you’ll see below, but ultimately it’s about trust. When faced with businesses that are not well-known and have little to no reputation, people judge a company on its appearance. Small businesses need business cards to let potential clients know the business is "real."
- It’s a highly personal form of marketing. Networking is about making genuine connections, and sending contact information digitally—while convenient—is cold and impersonal. When trading business cards, people make eye contact and engage in conversation. (They also shake hands, when not in the middle of a pandemic!) This warm interaction helps in building a relationship with a client.
- They’re portable. Whether you work locally, nationally, or internationally, you’ll always have room for at least a small stack of 3.5” x 2” business cards. If you often attend industry trade shows or business conventions, for instance, business cards can facilitate the process of establishing and maintaining contacts that can lead to future business opportunities. By keeping a stack of business cards with you at all times, you have the opportunity to continuously market your business to everyone you meet.
- They imply professionalism. If you are prepared at all times and in any situation, this a great indicator that you are professional. Providing your business card to someone even in the checkout line of the grocery store shows them that you take your business seriously.
- You can write on them. Speaking of professionalism, have you ever had someone write his or her contact information on a cocktail napkin and hand it over to you? No need to scramble for a piece of paper to refer information to someone; use your business card to jot a note for them and you’ll be sure to remain in their thoughts long after you’ve met.
- They create brand awareness from the first impression. A store trying to make a great first impression wouldn’t create a sign with a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie. The same principle should apply when it comes to your business cards. You need a memorable design that conveys your business name, your name, and your contact information, preferably with a logo included. Plus, a unique business card will stick around: studies have shown that a colored card typically lasts 10x longer than the standard white card.
- They’re low cost for a high return. Email marketing, search engine optimization, and paid media all do a great job of attracting leads and prospects, but they still aren’t as effective as an in-person meeting sealed with a handshake along with a business card exchange. Sales increase by 2.5% for every 2,000 cards that get passed out, which adds up over time.
- They are easily shared. Leaving a prospect with a physical object means they have a tangible representation of your company. The more creative and attractive the card, the more likely it is to be shared—putting you and your company in front of even more prospects.
- They’re always accessible. Let’s face it, we haven’t achieved 100% global Internet coverage yet… and it’s unlikely that we will. Business cards are never inaccessible because of dead spots or Internet outages. You can use them at a remote lodge or in the middle of a blackout. You can also exchange them when your cell phones need to be turned off, like on a plane.
I’m sure some people have read this and beg to differ. They might quote the statistic that 88% of business cards handed out get thrown away in less than a week. That’s still 12% that keep them! Statistics also show that 9% of cards are added to the recipient’s digital list. Also, the current average website conversion rate, according to Wordstream, is around 2.35%. Put another way, business cards at a 12% conversion rate have more than 5 times the conversion rate of your average website at 2.35%. I rest my case!