By Roberto Blake
Despite whatever you’ve heard from your favorite marketing guru, business cards are not DEAD in 2015, they won’t be dead in 2020 or 2025 for those of you clever people trying to “future proof” your marketing strategy. The primary argument is that “business cards are just a way to convey information, you can just plug those details into a phone and reach out to someone right away”. It’s a solid argument, except it ignores some very important things… context, creativity and consistency. I refer to these three points as “the creator triangle”, you can ignore them at your peril…
Video: Why Business Cards Matter in 2015 [Rant]
The context that business cards are irrelevant in the digital age is a bad joke if I’m going to be blunt. Let’s say for example you are photographer shooting a conference or convention; does it really make sense for you to stop every time you need to interact with someone or they ask if they can reach out to you for the shots, to stand there and put your details in their phone, and fumble for yours while carrying your gear? If you’re doing that aren’t you missing the time you could be spending shooting or setting up for a shot? Even if you have an assistant that can do that, they can exchange 10-20 cards in the time it takes to swamp contact info between phones.
What if you’re a graphic designer? Doesn’t it make sense to have a business card that not only has your information but shows off your creativity in utilizing a very small space? This leads into my next point, Creativity. You can use a creative and clever business card to cut through the noise and make an impression. Being memorable counts and if you’re just one of one hundred people that put their name in someones phone during a networking event, how do they distinguish you from someone else. When you call or email them how do they know who you are? Am I saying you shouldn’t put their details in your phone and follow up right away? No. I’m saying: why not do that and also make an impression and standout and go deeper on that interaction?
Then of course there is consistency, which comes to two separate points. People have grown up with the consistent expectation that any serious professional has a quality business card. It is something we have seen our entire lives and is even part of pop culture at this point. This is particularly true of anyone over 35, even those who are tech savvy still spend most of their adult career giving and receiving business cards. Technology is not changing the deference and perception of someone having a business card vs not having one. A large personality or celebrity has the luxury of ignoring this because they don’t have to establish their legitimacy, so a business card may not be relevant to them. But for other people lacking their visibility it is still an important tool. Your business card is a proxy that represents you when you can’t be there to sell yourself.
Going deeper on consistency, it gives you the opportunity to display consistency when they go from your business card to your website and or social media profiles. Seeing the consistency between your branding assets will add to your credibility considerably.
Nothing I’ve talked about up till this point is something that technology has the capacity to address over the next 10 years. Dropping business cards just means removing one more marketing tool from your arsenal in order to be trendy or jump on the bandwagon of what someone who doesn’t actually need to put in as much effort as you to build new relationships (not to imply they are not still working hard at it). When you are a New York Times Bestseller or go on tour across the world, or show up on Network Television, you probably can do away with business cards. Until then, giving out 200 cards a week, with a possible 2% conversion rate probably isn’t going to hurt your marketing effort or bottom line..
Roberto Blake is a Graphic Designer who runs his own one man Design Studio, focusing on Brand Development and Advertising. Roberto has experience in design for print, web and multimedia and has worked on out of home campaigns including billboards featured in Times Square. He is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News From The Printerverse, and a frequent participant in#PrintChat on Twitter. He is also a contributor for publications such as Print Magazine and How Design and has had work featured in Advanced Photoshop Magazine. Roberto is extremely active in social media, producing multiple YouTube videos each week to assist designers and other creative professionals through advice and tutorials.