Why do we still need business cards?

bloggy-business-card-stackDoes anyone remember a smartphone application from just a few years ago called Bump? With this application, the idea was that you would “bump” another person’s smartphone (if they also had Bump) and it would exchange contact information. I remember someone saying “no need for business cards anymore.” Well, what happened to Bump, or the countless other applications that are meant to transfer information from someone’s business card straight into your phone’s contacts. That sounds cool, but you know what? It STARTS from a business card.

My job requires that I set up templates for online business card orders. And that is something that does not seem to be going away. In fact, most of our clients start as inventory fulfillment only, and then branch into the other print-on-demand services we offer, starting with business cards. But why do we still need business cards in this digital age of smartphones and Google contacts?


Now, do I think business cards will be around for another 50 or even 100 years? Yes, butblack-white-business-cards-6 most likely in a diminished capacity. And the business cards of the future will incorporate more augmented reality, and ways to get you to engage with your handheld device. But here in the early 21st century, business cards do two things very well, and they do them much better than a smartphone application or Google contact list:

  • They convey your brand – business cards, married with other branded materials such as note card, letterhead, presentation folders, and marketing materials, are the focus of your entire brand. Think of the business card as the narrow part of an hourglass. You can have wonderful branded marketing materials or stationery items, and they may bring larger messages of your brand. But it’s the business card that has to convey all that in a brief moment.
  • They give more than just contact information – sure, your name, number, address, and everything else is on there, but there might be more to it. There might be something like a quote or a QR code that can engage the recipient into investigating you and your company more.


Let’s face it, what do YOU do when you get someone’s business card? If you’re like me, you enter the contact info into Outlook or Google contacts, and then – unless card is memorable – you toss it. So, how do you make your card memorable? Let’s look at some quick ideas:

  • Creatice-business-cards-44Make it square – sure, it won’t fit into your standard business card holder booklet you buy at Staples, but it will stand out, and the recipient may even keep it out, simply because of the size and the uniqueness. Another option is make it portrait format, instead of the usual landscape format.
  • Try different paper –  most cards are done on 12 pt of 14 pt board, and if they’re digitally imaged, they have a UV applied to it. BORING! Unless the design itself is interesting, those cards are tossed out. But what if you print the card on say 130# double-thick cover, with a nice texture? Or maybe a textured sheet like a linen or something like Classic Columns. Maybe something that has color with some interesting characteristics like the Neenah Environment line. Avoid the usual gloss cover stock, and try for something unique.
  • Post-press finishing – with letterpress having a resurgence, maybe have yourpilates-studio-business-card embossed or debossed, or with a foil applied, or both. Combine it with a thick stock and it will have a very dynamic impact. Perhaps having a bit of a die-cut element as well, like an angled corner. Try anything to make the card different.
  • Personalize them – instead of 250 of the same card, change something about them so if you’re going to hand them out, every 3rd or 4th card is different. Mix it up, and it will become both memorable and a keepsake. Also, make sure your social media information is included.

So, business cards are not going away, but it’s how you have your cards printed that can ensure that your card will not be trashed – instead, it will be kept as an example, and keep your name and your brand in front of your target audience.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
This entry was posted in Branding, Letterpress, Marketing, Paper, Print, Print Marketing, Print sales and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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