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Business Cards Aren’t Dead Yet

Note: this was originally posted at Applied Intuition

By Matthew Billingsley

Between a half dozen or more social media channels or profiles on a number of design-related outposts, what exactly is the point of business cards in the digital age? Facebook, Twitter, Path, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest all provide contact and detailed information to varying degrees. Business cards provide something those places cannot: character.

Sure, you can manufacture character on any number of social media sites and even change it often to fit a particular frame of mind or up-to-the-minute mood change. Where they fail is authentically capturing personality through design the way a card can. So why still carry business cards in the first place? To create a good one will take time to design. Regardless of materials it will cost a fee of some sort. Social media on the other hand, is free.

The answer: it signifies a commitment. “This is who I am”. When you give someone your card you are literally giving that person a piece of you. There is something inherently real about receiving a well-designed business card.

Getting touchy-feely

All the senses play a huge role in meeting people. How that person looks, smells and sounds during conversation all play into your perception. What a card will do is (politely) introduce touch. How does the paper feel? Is it even paper? Is it textured or flimsy? Is the ink raised?

These are choices, though unsubstantial to non-designers on the surface, that feeds into your perception of that person. It brings about some emotion in even a minor form. They create an instant memory – good or bad but rarely indifferent.

Leave an Impression

Much like a logo a card alone cannot tell the whole story, but should tell enough of it to entice people to want to learn more about you. They are excellent conversation pieces and drivers to those online channels to get more detail. As a marketing tool they are invaluable and will be for some time. There are mobile apps that can pass information digitally but is there a large enough pool of people using them to make it the norm?

The next time you go to an industry meet-up, workshop, or other social gathering try jotting down your Twitter handle or LinkedIn URL rather than handing out a card. It’s just not the same experience for either party. In some regards, depending on the timing or the setting, it may be considered arrogant. Definitely not the first impression you would want.

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