Why do I need business cards in the digital age?
I walked into Starbucks on a summer evening to meet with two potential clients. We ordered our drinks and sat down for their consultation. At the end of the consultation, my clients left, while I wrapped a few things up. As I was leaving to head home, I was stopped by a woman. She said she had overheard the consultation and that her friend was desperately in need of a graphic designer and asked for my business card. Excited to get a lead this easily and quickly, I reached into my purse and.....
I didn’t have one.
I had given my last two away to the clients I had just met with.
After apologizing and telling her that I normally have cards on me at all time, she said it was ok and turned back to her coffee.
And that was that. I walked out to my car and drove home.
I came away with a few lessons from that day:
- First of all, hello Hayley, you're an entrepreneur now, you need to have cards with you at all times!! And multiples.
- That is still the most popular question when meeting someone in a professional setting. “Do you have a business card?”
- Even though it’s such a digital age we live in, neither she or I thought to ask for an instagram handle, a website, or even my business name so she could look it up later.
I lost a lead, because I didn’t have business card on me that day.
This brings me to our topic today. I have had numerous discussions about business cards and why they are important and why each new business especially needs one. For some reason, businesses just starting out think that they can get branding done, a beautiful new website created and that’s where it ends. People will just find them on the internet. They don’t need to market themselves or put any other thought into their experience or business touchpoints. As we creatives like to say it…they think that “if I build it, they will come”. And we all know that is almost never the case.
Now with some businesses, that is exactly what’s going to happen. Especially if they build their business foundation, nail their branding and wording, and have great marketing directly to their target market. But even then, when they meet someone in person, especially professionally, they will be empty handed like I was when someone asks for their business card.
So let’s talk about 4 ways why you need a business card even in the digital age.
Look Professional and Trustworthy
First off, there are tons of small businesses popping up over night, you need a business card for nothing else than to show that you are a legitimate company. When you have a business card, people are trained to believe that you are a professional company. "If you have enough money to spend on a nice business card, then you have enough to work with me."
Having a business card also shows that you put the work into your business to be prepared to market yourself when you meet a potential opportunity. There have been multiple times that I've written someone off as unprofessional or unprepared when they say they "don't have business cards". When you are asking someone to spend a couple hundred dollars on your services, trust is a huge factor that goes through your potential client's heads. If you come off even slightly as unprofessional, that trust is likely to go away.
Make a lasting impression
If you're ever networking, at a conference, or even in a social location like a coffee shop, you meet and interact with several people. Be honest with yourself, do you EVER remember people's names the day after? I personally have to meet people three separate times for their names to sink into my memory. But what if you gave them a business card. First, they don't even have to remember you. They have a paper reminder that they can go back to when they get home and you will stay on the top of their mind. But if you didn't give them a business card, that person has completely forgotten your name.
Donald Miller from Storybrand talks about our brains and how they are constantly making sure that we survive and thrive on a daily basis. Surviving is about staying out of danger, making sure we get our basic necessities, and not burning too many calories. Thinking burns calories, and if we burn too many calories, the brain switches into survival mode. If you expect someone who you just met to "remember you" and to look you up the next day after meeting twenty other people, think again. Their body is burning unnecessary calories when they have to go home and try to remember who you were.
Digital is Impersonal
Have you ever been to an event and met someone who you really hit it off with, and they just give you an instagram handle to get in touch with them? I have, and it feels so impersonal! I follow new people every week on instagram, and I felt like just another number on a follower list to that person. I'll also tell you that I never reached out because of that experience. I didn't feel like they really wanted to get to know me also.
Printed pieces are personal. You aren't just handing someone a business card, you are handing them a part of your business - a part of your brand. You are also showing that you care enough about your business and others to spend a couple $ and get some printed in preparation for a specific event. Business cards don't have to be crazy expensive, a little thought and effort can go a long way in your customers mind.
Boost your business touch points
Today it's more important than ever to create an enjoyable experience around your brand. This could be what most businesses think about, your client experience from on-boarding to off-boarding, or you could go the next level and this could be the overall experience of when someone (anyone) comes into contact with a touchpoint of your brand. A touchpoint could be a facebook ad, an instagram post, a blogpost, it could also be your brick and mortar, your signage, your ad in a local magazine or your business card. By treating your business card as a touch point in the experience, you can delight and surprise your potential customer. This adds value, trust and excitement to work with you and make that purchase! I am all about using what you have to create an experience and business cards are known to be the most effective direct marketing tool. Why not put a little extra thought and $ into them if it helps create an experience for your dream customer?
Set yourself apart from the rest
Now that we are talking about experience and using a little more energy in the most important touch points of our businesses. Do you have a business card that you just can't throw away? You got it at a random networking event last year, and you know that you're never going to need the product or service this person offers, but it is just too cool to trash?
I collect cool business cards, and there is something unique about the cool ones that you want to keep. Especially since 90% of all business cards are the thin, bendable cards that you printed at your local kinkos for ten dollars (no offense to them). What's unique about the 10% of cool cards is that they were mostly all designed by a professional. The typography is on point. They take advantage of the space, the colors, the textures. They add cool surprise elements like foil, embossing, die-cutting and spot gloss. They take advantage of the paper and new kinds of printing. They are just all around super cool and one of a kind!
Wouldn't you like for your business card to be one that people hold on to and that designers like myself collect for inspiration? Hire a designer and you'll be sure to "make it rain" at your next retreat, networking event, conference, or even coffee shop! ( ;
Business cards are just one of the services I offer to each of my branding clients, if reach out if you would like to set your experience apart and start creating custom branding and stationary to fuel your business.