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Alyssa Gregory

Poll: Are business cards still useful?

By July 8, 2011

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Technology has effectively broken down barriers that used to be giant hurdles for small business owners. Think about it. Today, we communicate quicker and more efficiently, have easy access to an abundance of information, and can do a lot more with limited resources.

I am a technology-lover, and I am often testing out new apps, tools and software that can streamline life and work for small business owners. But there are some areas where I am just not ready to let go of tradition. Business cards are one of these areas.

Yes, to Business Cards

Although it may change in the near future, most professionals are still expected to have a business card to round out introductions and exchange at first meetings. Plus, when it comes to face-to-face networking, there is a tremendous power in the physical act of handing a business card to someone you just met...and knowing that a technology glitch will not prevent your information from being retrievable later.

Assuming your business card is also memorable and successfully communicates your brand, it can continue to make an impact long after that first meeting. The contact you just met may pause to make notes on the back of your business card after you walk away. Then, he or she will hold your brand-representing business card again after returning home and beginning to review contacts made. That's a lot of power for a small paper card.

Or, No?

The other side of the issue is that some consider the business card a thing of the past. Read the article, The Business Card Is Dead, Long Live the Business Card, on the Harvard Business Review. The author explains that she has seen that "the business card is the badge of the outsider," and how she'd outed herself as a "square" by handing out a business card at an event she attended. There are some good discussions in the comments of that post that hit on both sides of the issue.

Your Turn

I want to hear what you think. Do you think business cards are still useful or are they being replaced by newer ways to share contact information? Vote in the poll, and if you have more to say, share it in the comments below.

July 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm
(1) Alvalyn Lundgren says:

Thanks for the article.

As a designer of custom business cards, corporate stationery systems and other things of the graphic persuasion, I’m seeing printed business cards changing in nature but not disappearing.

Most businesses I work with want cards more than they want printed stationery. Fewer people are sending formal business letters but are requesting letterhead templates instead which they can send as a PDF.

The business card, still a staple for networking and credibility, is evolving. Fax numbers are used less and less, being replaced with Facebook page urls and QR codes. The company’s web site address and email are now primary over the street address and phone number, and the cell phone is always included.

When cards are used, they should be thoughtfully designed both visually and functionally.

July 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm
(2) Alyssa Gregory says:

Such great points, Alvalyn. I think you hit it on the head when you said that business cards are evolving. Still very useful, just different!

July 13, 2011 at 2:19 pm
(3) ssh says:

Being ‘outed as a square’ for handing out a business card is one of the silliest things I’ve read in a long, long time. Business cards are the cheapest form of advertising there is, period. Technology fails over and over. Batteries die. Hard drives fail. Anyone who depends solely on digital information is due for a hard, painful lesson. There is nothing to compare with a tangible item that requires no power source. In fact even while digital / mobile communications are growing in importance, good ol’ paper is in its own way also increasingly important. I wouldn’t be without them, and I am usually in two or more countries every month. Not to mention that in many parts of the world the technology just isn’t there. So call me a square, cuz I’m laughing all the way to the bank.

July 13, 2011 at 3:41 pm
(4) Alyssa Gregory says:

I have to agree, ssh. I love technology, but I have yet to trust it so completely that I will give up the security (and tradition) that comes with a good, old business card.

July 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm
(5) Jason says:

I agree with ssh….paper business cards are still important and do not require any technology to view. Very important in developing nations or more rural areas in the U.S.

In addition, I’ve been to conferences where everyone was given a device to tap with each other to exchange information. That process took several attempts and moved the conversation to how frustrating the technology was away from the networking that should have been occurring.

July 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm
(6) Kellie says:

I agree – business cards are still a useful way of marketing. Technology has changed the landscape of marketing, for sure; but I know I collect cards and use them myself. Having something tangible to hand out has value in my mind. I will continue to use them but as someone else has stated, I may get more creative with what they look like to make them stand out.

July 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm
(7) Alyssa Gregory says:

Makes sense to me, Kellie. I have seen some pretty creative business cards that are inspiring. Generally, I think there is so much more we can do with our cards to make them functional, professional and memorable.

July 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm
(8) matt says:

I still like them. They are a quick easy way of exchanging info.

July 14, 2011 at 7:38 am
(9) Olalekan says:

Business cards are still relevant; they are compact and retrievable despite the fact that technology is advancing day in day out.

July 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm
(10) ZigZieglar says:

Business cards are valuable as an ice-breaker. Gives you a chance to interact with someone, start a conversation, etc, just by the act of presenting your card. And note, that I can’t recall ever having someone refuse to take my card, even if they tossed it later.

July 15, 2011 at 10:16 am
(11) Victor says:

Business cards are changing indeed. As a printer, I see new trends. People update the designs with QR codes, Twitter handles, Google Voice numbers and Facebook page addresses.
However, they are more and more popular. We now have students ordering business cards, something that never happened one or two years ago. People need a piece of paper to hand out their electronic contact info to others.
See this link for the use of QR codes on business cards: http://www.otherdesigns.com/Case-Study-Classic-Cocktails_b_13.html

July 15, 2011 at 10:45 am
(12) Alyssa Gregory says:

Love the case study you shared, Victor! Not only is that a great example of how business cards are changing, but it is a great inside look at the design process. Thank you for sharing!

July 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(13) JIm Q says:

I never leave home without a few business cards in my walet.

August 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(14) Justin Kwok says:

As CEO of a print company, this topic weighs heavily on our whole mission statement. Of course more and more information is becoming accessible through technology. There are even virtual “business cards” you can utilize on mobile phones and send via bluetooth or text message.

However, from my experience in this industry, I have to say that I don’t see business cards becoming extinct anytime soon. People like tangible objects; it’s a security preference. Just like the debate on whether digital pictures are better or if going to the pharmacy to develop pictures is still the way to go. It’s preference.

I will say this: Just by observation, I notice people that are handing out their business cards are more proud handing out an actual card that displays their information, their name, and their title, because they’ve worked hard for that position. In that sense, electronic business cards will not suffice.

October 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm
(15) Ernie says:

I agree with this. Business cards are needed, even though we have multiple ways of staying in contact. People love just pulling out their wallet or purse and being able to see what cards or businesses cards they have. If you are looking for some phoenix business cards Then Printing Solutions has you covered, check out their website, and I’m sure you will love their designs and customer service!

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