Do small business owners still need business cards?
‘Hell yeah’ would be my answer to that!
‘But why?’ I hear you cry, ‘Everything’s gone digital, don’t you know?’ Only technophobes and folks on the edge of retirement carry business cards these days, right? Why spend time and money ordering stuff that just ends up in the bin?
Well, I’m nowhere near pension age (especially since I’m of the generation that’ll have to work until we hit 92!) — and I’m a huge geek for new technology — but I ADORE my business cards.
Here’s why I never leave the house without them…
1. People still ask for them
It doesn’t get any simpler than that. And what the people want, the people get! In the early days of my business, most of my work came from folk I’d met at networking events. All of whom had received one of my shiny new business cards.
These days my schedule doesn’t allow for quite so much face-to-face networking but at every event I go to, without fail, new connections ask for a card. Business owners expect you to carry them and failure to produce one can make you seem unprofessional, disorganised and scatty. Not the impression I’m going for.
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2. Can’t you just find new acquaintances on LinkedIn after the event?
Sure you can — if you’re blessed with an eidetic memory. For us mere mortals, that’s just not going to fly. So many of us (me included) are rubbish with names. I love meeting new people and finding out all about their business ventures but I can’t tell you how often I’ve come home from an event, having had great conversations and being able to remember every detail of someone’s business APART from their name!
I’d hate to think that someone had enjoyed a chat with me at a networking event and then failed to connect because I hadn’t given them a card to help jog their memory.
3. They save me from being rude
I know there’s a growing trend for whipping out your mobile at networking events and adding people’s contact details to your phone there and then but I have to tell you, I’m not a fan.
Imagine you’re mid-conversation when someone asks you to pause that thought while they unlock their phone, mess about finding the right app, search your name and finally send you a connection request.
‘Bear with…Bear with…’
Granted it doesn’t take too long but it’s just long enough to stall the convo, interrupt trains-of-thought and potentially have people thinking you’re a bit rude. It’s far less distracting to have your business cards handy and just pass one over as the conversation naturally draws to a close: effective and polite.
4. You never know who you’re going to meet
You just never know when a random chat at the school gate, at a dinner party, or even in the dentist’s waiting room could lead to a business opportunity. After all, we live in a culture where the old ‘what do you do?’ question is still key to getting a handle on new acquaintances.
If someone seems interested in what you do and you think there’s potential there for collaboration, it’s so much quicker to hand over a business card than programme their number into your phone or find them on Facebook, especially when you’re in a rush.
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5. Business cards are a great marketing opportunity
If you get a bit creative with your cards, you can use them as an amazing marketing opportunity. They’re a fantastic way to stand out, to provide a conversation-starter, a chance to be memorable.
This is especially true for creative types. I know some photographers whose business cards are worthy of their own show! And I’ve had great success with my own cards, which feature a selection of my favourite illustrations on the back. People seem to love them — they take ages choosing their favourite design and some folks even seem to be trying to collect a full set (maybe they’re hoping they’ll be worth something when I turn into the next Picasso!). It’s a great springboard for conversations about my work.
Find a way to make your own cards stand out and you’ll have another vital element of your sales toolkit covered.
Digital age or not, we still need business cards. The way we use them has changed is all. They probably will just end up in the bin, but not before the recipient has connected with you on LinkedIn, followed you on Twitter and found you on Facebook! Job done.
So let’s quell the myth that business cards are surplus to requirement; I promise you, a well-designed business card pays for itself every time.
If you want help creating some business cards too beautiful to throw away, give me a shout. I love a challenge!
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