If you’ve just landed a job, launched your own start-up, or suddenly started meeting new people in a business context, you will likely be contemplating getting a business card. Whether you get one can be a difficult question, especially in such a digital age where your LinkedIn account can have all the information you’d put on your business card (and much more). However, for the time being, business cards are still a common sight in business. You just need to decide if it’s worth the money for you.
Norms of Industry and Culture
The answer to that question is highly dependent on your industry. In some industries, even if you are a business owner, it is uncommon to give somebody your business card (for example, in agricultural SME’s). Many people just think it’s easier to plug your contact information directly into their phone. However, in some industries, all introductions are started with a business card — for example, consultancy of any kind or finance.
Culture can also impact whether you need business cards. If you are an international businessman that’s doing any business in Asia, especially Japan, business cards are essential and have a very specific etiquette surrounding them.
Working in creative industries is linked with a specific industry-wide culture, especially one of rejecting traditional business norms and carrying an ethos of counterculture. However, there are plenty of ways to do that by using customized business cards, while still making the most out of the benefits of using a business card (like being more memorable). If you’re working in a culture that doesn’t normalize business cards, that gives you a great opportunity to make a lasting impression by using one.
Understanding Business Cards for What They Are
When you’re deciding on whether business cards are worth the money, you need to understand them for what they really are: marketing tools. Their pros and cons therefore need to be thought about in terms of a wider marketing strategy:
- A great first impression
- A quick way to share contact details
- Gives a clear message that you’re ready as a business
- They are the most effective direct marketing tools – more effective than email marketing, search engine optimization and paid media
- Creative cards get shared, leading to better marketing ROI
- Can cause a poor first impression if your design is badly printed, contains mistakes, or isn’t appropriate for the industry
- Your card might get lost if business cards are a norm for the industry. Additional options might be required in this case
- Not suitable for a business that is still pivoting
The simple way to determine whether a business card is right for your business is to try and calculate the ROI of your business cards. This is in line with viewing them as a marketing expense. Try to keep track of who you give your cards to, so you can take the impact of your card into account when doing business with that person in the future.
For your card to be truly worth the money, you need to only give them out to people that you think will could become long-term clients in the future.