Someone asked this in a forum recently. Maybe they were just looking for attention, I don’t know. Business cards have a long history of service in many forms and are still the the cheapest form of advertising.
What is the history of business cards?
Visiting cards – used in 15th century China these cards communicated the desire for meeting another person.
Calling Cards – Very popular in 17th century Europe these cards were used by the upper classes as personal advertisement as a formal request of an introduction
Trading Cards – Late in the 17th century tradesmen began using these cards to inform customers of their services and shop address
Business Cards – 18th – 19th century less formality was practiced and the trading card and visiting card merged.These cards were used in formal and informal settings as personal advertisements and trade promotion.
Business cards have been the go to item for businesses to get and give contact information into this century. Beside a short stint of the late 1940s’ invention, the rolodex. The rolodex was very popular with businesses in the 80s’ and 90s’. Companies even included pre-printed contact information on rolodex cards in direct mail pieces. As much as recruiters sought out candidates with the most complete rolodexes in the 90s they were quickly replaced by the emergence of the desktop computer. Databases and synchronized address books are now stored on smart phones a third of the size of the smallest rolodex.
Will business cards go the way of the Rolodex?
Rolodex cards were nearly twice the size of a standard business card size (3.5 x 2) plus they had an odd die cut that didn’t exactly travel well. Business cards are lightweight an easily tuck into purses, billfolds, and standardized sleeves found in many office products.
Admittedly not everyone holds onto business cards they receive these days. Computer scanners with OCR readers and software such as Neat allow direct feed into computer databases that even store the graphics and corporate logo on the cards. Business cards can be disposed of at this point since all of the information can be accessed on a future date. Yet, all of this content still begins with a printed business card.
How are business cards used now?
Like every good invention there are abusers amongst us. Watch out for those business cards grabbers at networking events who return to their offices, scan each business card they receive, import the contacts to multiple mailing lists and the spamming begins.
Of course not everyone has embraced this latest business card scanning software. Business card holders are still overflowing or stuffed in piles on desks, in purses and cars — even if there are Neat scanners waiting to receive them in the office. Let’s be honest, some of these business cards may never see the light of day. Some people are guilty of taking business cards out of courtesy and politeness with no intention of ever looking at them again. It’s that one person who takes it and uses it that we all seek — and the handful of cards that are taken out of courtesy are pennies on the dollar.
Of course haters gonna hate and many claim they can Google the information they want or search on a corporate website for the contact information they need. But how do you search for the person you met at the networking event last week who sold the exact service you are Googling right now? What was that company name again? What was that smart account representatives name? Only a business card is going to help you recall all of this information.
Business cards are here to stay
- A business card is a basic tool for start up companies trying to get their brand in front of people at a low cost.
- Usually the first touch a prospect will have of your brand messaging.
- A business card is an instant connector and leave behind piece for casual or impromptu meetings.
- A business card is small and fits standardized office tools
- Sales training 101 promotes carrying businesses with you at all times
- It’s no wonder business cards are essential to business. The cost to reproduce them are usually less then a few cents a piece. When printing business cards choosing a professional design and printer is critical to show professionalism and details are important to you. A smeared, bent card doe not a good impression make.
Are business cards necessary these days? I say yes. However, I also confess I am somewhat stingy with my cards in networking events. I have experienced those marketing firms and over zealous small business owners who believe since I gave them my card it was permission for them to add me to all of their email campaigns, direct mail campaigns plus phone me way too much. I’ve gotten picky who I give my card to -especially at networking events. Consider this the next time a business owner offers you a card – they may not give them to just anyone – but they chose to give it to you.
Business cards are this month’s special. Business cards are discounted 20% through December 30, 2014.
Please connect with us today if you need a new business card design or if you need reprints of an existing business card design Connection Graphics has created for you in the past.