Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why Do We Still Have Business Cards?

Every time I take out a business card, I feel like I'm pulling out a piece of the past.

With vcards, Outlook, CRMs, LinkedIn, QR codes, etc. haven't we progressed past having a small, printed piece of paper with our contact data on it? Even card scanners seem quaint, like they are automating the abacus.

So, let's assume the business-card-as-contact-details-mechanism is dead. Clearly there is a reason we all (or almost everyone) still have them. And I hope you think about these reasons before you order your next box of cards.

To get you started, here are three goals for post-rolodex business cards.

#1 – to be a tiny billboard I.e. to help promote your messaging and value proposition. You can either handle this with a unique design, a unique material, or by putting an advertisement (of sorts) on the back of your card. Or a combination thereof.

If you are decal manufacturer, your card could be a high-quality decal. With a dead-front*, perhaps. If you are an envelope company, use a business card sized envelope. A plastics company? Print your card on plastic**. And the list goes on.

There are other ways to provide a tangible 2" x 3.5" idea of how you are better, faster, smarter, etc. - which could even be by not making your card 2" x 3.5" in size. Remember: the card no longer needs to fit into a card holder, though it might need to fit into a pocket folder.

#2 – provide talking points for networking situations See #1 above, but you can also solve this by adding an interesting line to the back. What question do you want someone to ask you after you hand them your card? What might spur them to ask this?

A few classics, though they might be urban legends, are:

• Putting, "Don't believe me, call my Mom" and her phone number on the back.

• A lawyer with his litigation win/loss score on the back.

Some recent ones I have seen are:

• A QR code on the back of the card.

• A mini assessment (relevant to the company's services) on the back.

• Icons for the company's services lines, highlighted for the area in which the person works.

To show we, at LargerPond, practice what we preach, our cards are thinner than normal, have rounded corners and we each have a number of different taglines.

#3 – taking notes. #1 and #2 above make this harder, so you might end up with an either/or proposition, but if you want people to write on the back of your cards, or want to write something on yours before you hand it to them, then strongly consider a plain white or light colored, non glossy card. (Why non glossy? So the pen doesn't smear.) I have yet to see a card with "Notes:" and line rules on the back, but it would not be a huge surprise to learn that there are cards like that.

All of the above is anecdotal and from personal experience, since I have seen no studies with real metrics. However, I believe most people just try to make cards "pretty", so any thinking here is likely going to provide value and spur discussion.

In short: Whatever you decide to do will be better than simply making your cards "pretty", especially if there is a business or positioning reason behind it.


*When you can only see the printing if there is light behind it, such as the engine warning light in your car. And, yes, we created a business card like this for Muir Omni Graphics. (See

**Maine Plastics has these cards. (See

†LiquidPrint, a web development firm, does this. (See

1 comment:

  1. It's really great cards are involving in every type of business...thanks for sharing....!!!