Business cards have been around since the 15th century and have been used by many professionals to promote their businesses. However, the arrival and eventual blossoming of the digital age has led many to question the significance of business cards. But, before we get into the reasons why business cards still matter, let’s take a look at their brief history.
A Centuries-Old Tradition
The first believed usage of the small cardboard/paper was back in 15th Century China. They were called “visiting cards” and were given to hosts to announce the arrival of aristocrats and royalty.
In the 17th Century, Europe began using cards with similar functions but were close to playing cards in size and shape. However, as with their earlier Chinese counterparts, these were only used by the elite.
It was only around the 18th and 19th Centuries that these cards took on their business function that we of today are all familiar with. This was also around the time that “business card” usage became widespread among the middle class to the extent that most houses had trays for people to leave cards in.
Today, business cards have evolved from simple black–and–white pieces of cardboard/paper to what can be considered as functional works of art that can easily be created and ordered online using a business card making tool. And although we are in the digital age, here are a few reasons why business cards still matter today:
1. Simple and Effective
Business cards are essentially pieces of paper/cardboard with information written on them. And yet, despite this, they always accomplish their goal – to create connections.
The reason for their effectiveness is very simple: handing anything to a person will cause them to look at (or even read) it for at least a few seconds. This becomes quite advantageous for anything written, let alone business cards.
Another thing to keep in mind is that business cards were purposely created to be small and portable. This means that you can keep it almost anywhere, the most common being in a wallet. It also means that reading through it won’t take long.
As the saying goes “Good things come in small packages”.
2. Shows Legitimacy
For anyone running a business, a client’s trust is extremely important. Business cards are a useful tool in earning a client’s trust for the simple reason that they have a physical item to associate with you. And since business cards almost always contain contact information, it gives clients a feeling of “safety” as they have someone to contact if they need anything.
One can argue that setting up a web page for your business can achieve the same. However, social media sites have made this quite accessible to anybody who knows how to use them. Whereas not everybody will have a business card. It shows clients that you take them and your business seriously.
3. No Internet? No Problem
Having an impressive website or social media page for one’s business is great and all, but not being able to access it at all times is disadvantageous and may cause one to lose clients. This is when business cards become invaluable for not being internet-reliant. Having the ability to access important contact information regardless of the presence of an internet connection is a big plus, especially when it comes to businesses.
Furthermore, some only use the internet out of necessity and would greatly appreciate being handed a business card.
4. Leaves a Great First Impression
First impressions are important when it comes to most things, even more so when it comes to business. Failing to make a great first impression can easily make or break deals or projects. This is where business cards come in handy.
Handing a business card to a potential client gives them the impression that you’re committed and legitimate. It also tells them that you’re prepared and, more importantly, willing to take responsibility by opening a way for communication. In addition to this, handing out a business card rarely takes more than a minute. This makes it a time saver that potential clients would greatly appreciate.
5. Promotes Preparedness
Preparedness is a trait that business owners must have to succeed in any business venture. Though it may not be obvious, business cards not only help promote your business, they can also help promote preparedness. This simple fact benefits both the business and its clients tremendously.
By making business cards a part of your marketing and networking strategy, it helps condition your mind into considering even the smallest avenues of opportunity. This results in business owners alike becoming ready whatever the situation may be.
As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
6. The Swiss Knife of Networking
A networking tool that is simple, effective, and flexible is a powerful one – and business cards fall into this category. Business cards are simple by design and this lends well to creating connections with just about anybody. It is neither bulky nor heavy making it easy to carry around and keep without taking up too much space. This makes it very convenient for both businesses (and their agents) and clients.
In addition to these, a business card can be passed around from person to person without really being limited by anything. One person simply hands it to another and that’s that. This trivializes distribution and does away with the “to whom” and “where from” concerns of other tools. This can also potentially turn your client into an indirect middle man whenever they decide to hand it to someone they know.
It’s a win-win situation.
7. Culturally Acceptable
Culture is never an easy topic to address due to variations in traditions and practices. This makes it exceptionally tricky to determine what the best possible action is when trying to create connections with clients all over the world. But, just like traditions and practices, some tools have stood the test of time and are still used to this very day.
Business cards are one of those time-tested tools and you can never go wrong when using them. Handing a business card to someone will never offend them, no matter what their culture is. However, knowing your business card etiquette is important when handing out business cards.
The concept of business cards has existed since the 15th century and has seen widespread use since then. This means that most people are quite familiar with them, thus making them a perfect tool for creating connections with clients.
8. A Great Way to Promote your Brand
Despite the simplicity of business cards, they can be designed as a way to promote a business or brand. This can be anything from utilizing the colors of your company to using unusual card shapes and textures or even just making the card as streamlined as possible. Such designs can help a (potential) client visualize a company or brand simply through sight (and even touch).
Although there are some limitations to what you can do with business cards in terms of design, finding the right design can significantly boost your brand image in a matter of seconds (the same time it takes for a potential client to look over a business card). This also makes any potential client curious about your brand, which is always a good thing.
9. Great Bang for Buck
Business cards are an investment worth making due to how little they cost relative to how much you gain. Even if a single business card, out of a pack of 50 opens up a few opportunities by simply being passed around, this is a great outcome that is likely to yield a high return on investment. The best part is that a business card, once handed out, requires no monitoring and can easily change hands — which is a form of “self-sustained” marketing.
Although there are “free” marketing options out there such as email, they can feel intrusive for clients. No one likes receiving “spam” especially from unknown senders. Fortunately, business cards do not have this issue since one can be selective with whom they choose to give it to instead of just spamming it out to everyone. This makes the approach much more personal and any client would appreciate that. Worth every penny.
Despite being from the bygone days, there are reasons why business cards have persisted and have even evolved beyond their original function. Many might argue that they are outdated and newer media should be used in their place. However, there are many (often unobserved) reasons why business cards have stayed relevant even today.
Their simplicity and effectiveness has made them easy to use for just about anyone. And despite not being “technologically advanced”, it has brought them an unexpected advantage over internet-reliant media. Most, if not all, cultures recognize and accept them in establishing communication. In fact, they can be used for almost any situation, and one can’t go wrong by using them.
Most importantly, they can be adapted to fit almost any business goal with relatively minimal cost, and potentially tremendous gain. By taking all of these things into account, it is undeniable that business cards are still relevant and very much a great investment for any business.