Before the internet and smartphones, business cards were the only – and one true way of exchanging information at business meetings and events. There simply were no acceptable alternatives. Aside from relaying information, it served as part of one’s first impression through the design, and possibly the quality of the board or paper stock.
These days, printed business cards may still do these, more and more evidence show that digital may be the way to go. Digital alternatives that do the original functions and so much more. The question has come up, therefore, if the printed business card is going the way of the dinosaur – to become extinct in a green, paperless society?
This gives rise to some points to be made regarding printed business cards and their digital counterparts.
First point to be made is that exchanging information can now be done through one’s phone. Often just asking for a mobile phone number, the proper spelling of the other person’s name, and it’s done. Everything else can come later – if needed. For every hundred people in the street, how many have handed out printed business cards? Compare that to the number of people who have a phone in the bag or pocket. Suddenly it becomes obvious that people won’t – can’t- be away from their smartphones. This strongly reinforces the idea that whatever is on one’s phone is what’s always on-hand to access. On the other hand, printed business cards can be tossed at a later, more courteous, time, it may be lost, or it may be included into that ever-increasing pile which the owner can’t really access conveniently without memorizing what’s in it.
Another point is that a business card has been increasingly ignored as the primary way to find someone you met 6-months ago. You simply need to try to recall a name – maybe the company name – then go to your favorite online business network site and hope you get lucky. Often you may get lucky but woe are the instances you’re not. Why leave things to chance when there’s technology to help you keep in better – and more updated – touch.
Fixed and limited. These are two words often used to describe information contained in printed business cards. Because these cards are conventionally printed in batches or boxfuls, the information contained can’t be added to or changed. Left unprepared, even the top executive may have to resort to the awkward move of whipping out a business card and scribbling his or her newest mobile phone number or email address because the old cards’ information has become obsolete. Digital business cards are flexible enough for you to create different kinds and there are the good ones that automatically update and get updated.
What most people don’t realize, is that receiving a business card isn’t always a good thing. If you are someone who doesn’t carry a business card in your wallet at all times, it can get awkward when you are given one – it’s like you have nothing to offer in return, hence could be considered unprofessional. Having a digital card in your phone which you have always, gives you a good option of never leaving home without one. Furthermore, when you are the recipient of a printed business card, and you aren’t an awfully organized person to begin with, there’s a decision to be made. Do you put it in your breast pocket, among the pages of your planner, in your wallet, on your desk, in your car, and the list may go on. Then at an extremely inopportune moment, you suddenly need to go through all the places you think you have the person’s card only to spend half a day failing to locate it. Not good right? Simply put, having everything in one place – your phone – eliminates the anxiety.
Though the argument can be made that printed business cards are still needed – which may be true – but they are simply not enough. In the age of social media, online and digital methods have become the way that makes sense – what with digital portfolios, personal and business websites, and the many social media identities one has. If you are going to follow up being in touch through email or IMs, why not go digital from day one?
therefore , you can go backward and forward on this topic and end up spending time and money still having a box of printed business cards made, but looking forward, is there really any direction this is going other than digital? Ultimately, what makes the most sense is not to get left behind.
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