When do you need business cards? Or, as I now ask myself, do you even need business cards at all? It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, and this post has come quite organically out of a discussion I had on Instagram with my followers.
I was thinking the other day how I'm yet to have business cards and wondered if I should invest in some. As a Marketing Coach I know the importance of covering all aspects of marketing your business, and using business cards can be a perfect way to do this. As always, my impact on the environment was weighing on my mind and I had a worry that I'd be handing them out just for people to look at once and throw away.
I asked the question on Instagram: "Do you use business cards and if so, do you give many of them out?" The responses that came back were varied but they highlighted some key times as to WHEN having business cards can be a great thing.
Getting your first business card
Anyone who has ever had a business card may have felt at least one of these two things
1. A crazy amount of excitement as you open up the box to find 100s of cards with YOUR name on it – yes YOU. You're basically famous now, right!?
2. The overwhelming desire to give out as many cards as you can so your name is infiltrated within the world.
The last time I owned a box of business cards when I ran the marketing for a shopping centre. I was given a mobile phone and a box of business cards and I felt like I owned the place. Flash forward to two years later when I was clearing out my office drawers, (before leaving that job to move to Canada) I realised that only given away something like 20..... yes 20 cards! This is how my negativity about the waste of business cards came to be. Do I need business cards if they’re just going to hide in my draw for years? And what is a good business card alternative?
I haven't been the only one who has felt like this about business cards either. Sarah Howells of The Gluten Free Blogger messaged me and said: "I used to use business cards for my blog when I visited trade shows because I found them really handy. But then I realised I was just collecting people’s cards, putting them in a drawer and forgetting about them. People often ask me for my Instagram handle and I’ve found this a much easier way to connect as it’s instantaneous and there’s no waste." Jennie Lewis from SunSide Studio has had a similar experience too. "I've handed out about four in four years” she told me.
When do you need a business card?
I started to think business cards just really weren't worth it, but then The Moonlit Press messaged me and said: "I mainly use them at craft fairs on the corner of the table for shy / drive by customers” This trigged something; maybe there is just a time and place for business cards and craft fairs is probably one of them. I myself have taken many business cards from people at fairs and markets because I've wanted to stalk them on Instagram afterwards.
Joanne Hawker, founder of #marchmeetthemaker also made a good point. "I haven't had business cards for years and people always look at me like I'm mad when I say I don't have any,” she said. “I might get some for when I do my first market but other than that, I don't think I need them.”
Another popular comment about giving out business cards was at networking events like conferences. Lucy from Salt Design Company said "At the conference we've been to this week people are definitely still asking for cards - even when/if they already follow us on social.” Not only have they been giving them out, as a strategic design company they also design and produce business cards for clients too.
Lucy goes on to say: "We're looking to how we can make business cards have multiple functions - they need to act almost like a promotional postcard at this point or to have more information on them to make them valuable.” Jennie Lewis from SunSide Studio also reiterated the same thing. She too designs cards for clients and said: "We'll do appointment / loyalty cards in a business card size which are essentially business cards with another purpose too.”
What kind of business card should I get?
So, if your business is likely to be hosting a table at a craft fair or you're going to be mingling at conferences and network events, it looks like it might well be worth your while to get yourself some business cards.
Now, what kind of cards do you decided to get? I mentioned previously my worries about being environmentally friendly when it comes to purchasing cards. Excitedly, business card providers moo.com sells a range of paper-free cards which are made from 100% recycled t-shirts (offcuts salvaged from the fashion industry). Another option would be to use recycled card stock, why not share that you've done this by including a recycled logo on the back of the cards?
Lastly, if you're not in the line of work where you'll be at a craft fair or in a conference, having a business card still isn't a bad thing, but I don't think it's THE thing you need to focus on when marketing your business; there are other ways to help get your word out there. Just talking to people about your business can be one of them, showing you're passionate and giving them in depth information about your products or service will go a long way. Why not think about getting THEIR details instead and emailing THEM? Create that active connection instead of passively passing out cards.
For now, I think I'm going to sit out on purchasing business cards myself but if I do decide to get some, I'm definitely going for a recycled type. As always if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me, either via email or via Instagram.