While it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, we’re coming up on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. It certainly wasn’t the first cell phone or even smartphone, but it was definitely the tipping point that launched mobile as a way of life.
It also killed off the business card. Once your phone’s contacts became the new Rolodex, guess what happened to the old Rolodex? We’re guessing yours is next to the fax machine and electric typewriter in a storage room somewhere. Now if you want someone’s information, you can just Google it or find it in your email.
Even at classic business card breeding grounds like networking events, you can connect with a prospect via LinkedIn instantly, giving you way more access to information than the business card could ever hold. I can now easily go weeks without receiving a single business card, something that used to be a daily occurrence.
So if you don’t need a business card for its original purpose, why do you need one now? For B2B businesses, a great business card can be one of the most powerful branding tools you can have in your pocket (in this case, literally).
That’s because the business card is often the first touchpoint many customers have with your brand. If you’re at a networking event, a meeting or a sales call, this will create that crucial first impression — not your website, your print ads or your brochure. Think about what your brand wants to convey. Is it values like innovation, creativity, style or uniqueness? Then this is where you show it.
Not only is it a touchpoint, it’s the touchpoint your customers can actually touch. Your prospect will handle the card multiple times — as you hand it to them, as they pull it out of their pocket back at the office, and each time they look at it on their desk or run across it in their drawer. Each time they handle your card you get a one-on-one chance to showcase your brand. Compare that to connecting with someone on LinkedIn or sending an email, where after they see your message it goes in the mental trash, never to be thought about again.
That’s why it’s so important to create a memorable card. If you’re at a conference where you meet dozens of people, you’re unlikely to later remember anyone who didn’t give you a card. However, a plain card can also quickly become unmemorable, defeating the purpose. A card that stands out at the time you hand it to the person will imprint your name and story to the card, making it easier to recall the face behind the name when they look at your card next.
By making your card memorable, you make your card keepable. We’ve all received cards from people whose services we don’t need. Bad cards are easily tossed, but a card that’s too good to throw away will at least make it into the desk drawer. Before long, when they do need your service, your card is there to remind them of you and your business.
Another reason to invest in a great card — it actually gets used! If your staff is embarrassed by your business card, it’ll never leave the box. But give them a card that’s a conversation starter and they’ll be proactive in handing it out, pushing your brand while making their jobs easier. A great card can give your staff a few more minutes of conversation and give weaker networkers the tool they need to break the ice.
To get the most out of your card, make sure everyone in your company has one, from the admin to the CEO. A great business card can give every staff member a sense of pride and loyalty in your company, accomplishing crucial internal brand building in addition to external branding. While you might think only sales staff needs cards, the pride you build in every staff member by giving them their own cards is well worth the pennies per card it costs to print. Plus, you never know; any given member of your staff may end up striking up a conversation at a party with a potential client. Shouldn’t they have something to share?
Design, content, quotes, stats, taglines, materials, shapes, special printing techniques — the opportunities to make your card memorable are endless. With a little creativity and a modest investment in the low-tech business card, you’ll be able to showcase your brand and make a real, human connection in a way that just connecting online can’t always match.