Business cards have been around for nearly four centuries. But, are mobile apps replacing the traditional business card exchange?
Do you know how many business cards are printed every year? Millions? Tens of millions? No! Many, many more!
A study performed in the United States concluded that more than 10 billion business cards are printed in this country every year! Yes, ten billion! That’s a huge number: 10 billion = 10,000,000,000. Amazing, isn’t it? This means that approximately 33 business cards are printed every year for every single person living in the United States, babies and children included! That’s only in the United States.
If you add to this number to the number of business cards that are printed in the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe, India, China, Japan, other Asian countries, Latin America, the Gulf region, and other entrepreneurial countries, we are referring to hundreds of billions of business cards printed every year around the world. This is phenomenal!
In spite of these incredible figures, some people maintain that business cards are out of date. For them, business cards are a relic from the pre-digital age.
Business card detractors believe that modern technologies associated with the Internet are overcoming the previous hassle in creating and exchanging business cards. Some of them proudly boast that they stopped using business cards several years ago and that now they simply send an email, a LinkedIn invitation to connect, or a WhatsApp message. The most extreme advocates of this drastic decision affirm that if someone is really interested in getting in touch with them, he or she will find a way besides business cards to do so; maybe by searching for them on Google.
Less enthusiastic supporters of this radical view say that business cards are indeed not yet dead―they see them as a necessary evil―but nevertheless they are convinced that business cards will be off the market in the near future.
Most business card critics are younger entrepreneurs who do not want to spend their valuable time using old-fashioned methods that may not be successful. Before engaging in new business relationships, they want to be certain there is a minimum commitment from their new connections.
If you want to read more about the arguments for and against the use of traditional business cards, take a look at these two articles: bit.ly/con-bcards-amerland and bit.ly/con-bcards-serwin. The debates at the bottom of the articles are very interesting.
There is a problem with this limited view of what a business card is, its purpose, and its full potential in the business milieu.
No one denies that the Internet has transformed the way we do business; from the information we include on our business cards to the way we follow up and keep in touch with our contacts. However, the versatility and unique qualities of a business card and the rich significance of its exchange make it an irreplaceable tool.
It is a common mistake to think that business cards are no more than a practical means to communicate your contact information to people you meet in person. The truth is, on this small piece of paper (or a less common material), you include not only your name, what you do, and your contact details, but you also tell others how much you care about your business, how much you respect your clients and customers, your values and business philosophy, why you are in business, and how much you value your business partners.
Another impalpable trait of a business card is its capacity to create a lasting impression on your prospects. When your potential client or customer takes your business card home, it resonates with them time and time again. The intangible qualities shown on your business card stay on your prospects’ minds and revive the very moment you presented it to them.
Business cards are unique because of their symbolic power. You can share so many aspects about you and your business with a little ink on a 3.5” x 2” piece of paper! Your business card materializes an interlinked, complex net of meanings that goes beyond the simple exchange of contact information.
These are only some of the untouchable attributes that a business card holds, that no mobile app can compete with. I will delve more deeply into these qualities in the following sections. I will unravel for you the marketing and networking secrets within this tiny piece of paper.
Just because some techy enthusiasts claim there is little value in exchanging business cards, it does not mean you should not have yours.
Find out for yourself if your target market is using them. Mingle with your clients and customers, talk to them, understand them; only then will you know if it makes sense to order the business cards that you will be handing to them in the future. There are a few business people in narrow niche markets that may find the use of business cards irrelevant, but you will find most people cannot do business without them. Do your research and decide accordingly.
Due to their unique symbolic attributes, in the near future I do not see a substitute to business cards. Traditional business cards and digital Internet developments are becoming complementary. The two worlds are converging and giving rise to an optimal solution entrepreneurs must have. allBcards is moving in that direction!