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Death of the Business Card?

The reports of my death have been geatly exaggerated.
–Mark Twain

The business card is dead, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The March 16 2012 story says that “to many young and Web-savvy people who are accustomed to connecting digitally, the cards are irrelevant, wasteful—and just plain lame.”

I think that, like Mark Twain’s death, the demise of the business card is greatly exaggerated. True, digital alternatives such as smartphones, tablets and social media are helping people connect more quickly and seamlessly than ever.

Critics say business cards are inefficient, time-consuming to organize and not portable. They say Generation Y—people in their 20s and 30s who grew up with the Internet—are rejecting them.

But printed business cards are cheap, great advertising, and they work: for every 2,000 business cards distributed a company’s sales will increase by 2.5%.

Ten billion business cards are printed in the U.S. every year. These cards are distributed, written upon, referred to and, yes, sometimes thrown away. But do they have value? Read on.

A few days later the Times ran a letter from a reader recounting her experience: “Having arrived, as requested, 15 minutes early for a medical appointment, I was told several times that the wait would be ‘just a few more minutes.’ After an hour, I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. (This was unfortunate because I was there for a 10-minute visual field test.)

“I left the building,” she wrote, “but on my heels came the supervisor, who looked me in the eye, apologized and handed me her business card. ‘If it ever happens again,’ she said, ‘please alert me.’

“Along with the faint whiff of pre-digital social grace, she seemed to be offering a bit of hope, and she was somehow willing, with a 2-by-3.5-inch bit of card stock, to stand by her word.” [my emphasis –BR]

A business card is the handshake left behind. Bumping smartphones together can never replace the tactile impression and good intentions conveyed by a well-designed card on quality stock.

Besides, you can’t put a vCard in a restaurant fishbowl for a drawing for a free meal.

Are business cards becoming an anachronism? Let me know your thoughts.

–BR