Are business cards still relevant in 2017? It depends on whom you ask.
Some say business cards are no longer necessary, thanks to a variety of digital alternatives. But if exchanging information digitally is so easy, why are we still hanging on to these little pieces of card stock?
Why do business cards still work?
Business cards don’t still exist because of some warped sense of tradition or nostalgia; it’s because they continue to add value to the networking experience.
Whether you’re at a conference, mixer or backyard BBQ, a business card allows you to easily give or receive pertinent contact information. There’s no fumbling with your smartphone or hunting down a pencil and paper. You don’t even have to break eye contact.
Business cards not only save time but also allow us to focus on making genuine face-to-face connections. And, as an extension of your brand, they can add context to help you make a longer-lasting impression. Your business card can even serve as a physical call to action (CTA), depending on the information you include.
What should you put on a business card?
Business cards today can be anything you want them to be — 3D, metal, even edible!
How creative you get depends on your industry, brand and personality. Check out this article from Canva for inspiration.
But don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel (or the rectangle). The standard business card isn’t just a time-honored tradition; it’s also practical, easier to carry and less likely to be discarded. For more on business card design best practices, check out this infographic from The Muse.
Regardless of design, there is certain information you should always include on your business card.
- Name: How can anyone contact you if they don’t know who you are?
- Job title: Make sure your title makes it clear what you do otherwise they won’t know why they should contact you.
- Company name: This can give you added credibility, especially if your company is recognizable.
- Email address: Make this your direct work email, not a company catch-all or a personal address.
- Phone number: This should be your direct business line, not an automated company line or a line that requires going through three receptionists to finally reach you. Try to avoid using a home phone number — the last thing you need is a seven-year-old fielding business calls.
- Website: Keep URLs short and easy to read.
- Location (if applicable): Providing a location can be beneficial if you operate a physical storefront.
These are business card basics, but there’s no reason you can’t go above and beyond. Consider adding the following:
- Company logo: This helps associate you with your brand and makes your brand more recognizable later.
- Personal photo: A photo makes it easier for people to match a name to a face, which can be helpful after a trade show or networking event.
- Supplemental info: Taglines and mission statements help tell your story and show clients what you have to offer.
- QR codes: These take up valuable real estate, but they can be more visually appealing than written URLs. If you use a QR code, make it count. Instead of sending the contact to your home page, direct them to a specific landing page where you can ask them to sign up for your newsletter and reward them with premium content. This also makes it easier to track the success of your business cards as physical CTAs.
- Social profiles: Only include a social media link if the specific outlet plays a significant role in your marketing. For example, a real estate agent might include Instagram if he or she uses it to post listings, whereas a B2B marketer may feature a link to his or her profile.
The purpose of your business card is to make it easy for contacts to identify you later, long after they’ve forgotten who you are, what you do and why they should care. Done right, your business card will not only answer those questions, but also provide a direct line of communication should the need arise.
What should you do with the business cards you collect?
It’s easy to throw a business card into a folder and forget about it. But in order to make it count, you need to go above and beyond the initial exchange.
Be proactive. Connect with the client on LinkedIn, and add any useful information to your database. We suggest always recording the following:
- First name
- Last name
- Phone number
It’s best to add information over time rather than waiting until your desk drawer is overflowing with business cards. Trust us, we know. (Here we are sorting and organizing 1,268 business cards for a customer.)
Once you’ve added this information to your database, use these contacts to targeted email marketing campaigns, as illustrated in our 2017 Email Marketing Roadmap.
Are business cards still relevant in 2017?
We think so. And thanks to today’s technology, you can design an effective and inexpensive business card on your lunch break. Why shouldn’t it be part of your marketing mix?
If you need help making the most of your contacts for email and social media marketing, just let us know. We’re always happy to lend a hand!
Updated 8/17/17; Originally published 5/25/16