Rethinking Business Cards

Feb 26, 2013 | Brand Differentiation

Before LinkedIn and Google, business cards were an essential prospecting tool. At the start of my sales career I used to go to events with my sales manager, and we’d make bets on who could collect the most cards in an hour. It was a game of who could work the room more effectively.

After the event, all the cards I collected drove my prospecting for the next week. I followed up with people, booked appointments, and tried to assess who could be converted into viable leads.

I don’t do that type of prospecting anymore. Linkedin, Google and CRM make finding, engaging and connecting with targeted prospects and centers of influence far more effective.

My change in behavior is forcing me to reconsider how and why I use business cards.

Business cards are like neckties

Neckties could be the most useless piece of clothing in a man’s wardrobe, but if you work in the finance sector it’s part of the daily uniform.

Men have been wearing neckties since the mid-1600’s. I’m sure they served a purpose at some point in history, but I can’t find what it might have been. Today they are pure decoration.

Business cards seem to be stuck in tradition too. They started out as a way of sharing crucial contact information, but today they are more ceremonial.

We give them out at the start of a business meeting as a way of introducing ourselves. We hand them out at networking events, and we attach them to letters and proposals that are snail-mailed.

In all but a select few situations the contact details on the card are secondary. We have each other’s contact details already. The card is simply a token to leave behind.

Create a personal experience

Last week I wrote in Business Cards Make A Statement, “Your contact details are secondary in the digital world. We all have access to Google, and can find one another very quickly. What statement do you want to make with your business card?”

Since then I’ve been exploring the idea of “business note cards.” Rather than giving out a stock card with stock contact details, make the card giving process a personal experience.

Steve Martin did that in his card:

Another neat example is David Airey’s cards:

By leaving a great deal of white space on the card you can personalize it. That might mean leaving a note, or you could simply write “Call me” with your number.

The ceremony is an opportunity

Business cards are not going the way of the Dodo Bird. They’re going to be around for a long time just like neckties.

The challenge is to use the ceremony of handing out business cards to enhance your brand.

Study your behaviors:

  • When do you give out business cards?
  • How are they used?
  • Do people keep them?
  • What is the most important element on your business card? Is it really the contact details?

Try something new and unique. The business note card concept is only one option. You can also use your business cards to demonstrate the value of your brand.

Greg Healy’s card design for Poole & Hunter demonstrate their work as bespoke tailors:

It starts with experimentation

For the next few months I’m going to experiment with the business note card concept, and see how it works.

How are you approaching business cards for your business?

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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