When we think of business networking, we think of mixers with well-tailored suits, lots of hand-shaking, and repeatedly introducing who we are, our roles, and the experience we have. But that’s only one form of networking. The chances are higher that you won’t be able to shake hands with every potential client or investor. Even if you do get to rub elbows with the right people, they hear a lot of the same things throughout the duration of a networking event. When you network, the goal is to stand out and leave a lasting impression. A little known fact is that one of the best ways to make and leave a lasting impression is by using a business card. Below are the reasons why business cards might be one of the strongest marketing tools you have.
Handing someone a business card while you introduce yourself and your company will help generate an opinion of you1. Even if they forget you and whatever information you shared (which happens a lot), they’ll have the actual card so that they can contact you again. Leaving someone with a tangible means to get into communication with you is much more effective than saying a name and hoping it sticks.
Once you pass your card to someone, client or not, you’ve established a connection. With a strong business card, you will be able to operate in another form of marketing: word of mouth. By sharing your card with one person, they can then share it with someone else who may be in need of your services.
When selling your ideas and business, it helps if you have proof of your own commitment and pride in what you do for a living. Some potential customers will expect you to have one and will ask you for one before you can finish saying your name. Business cards are also a sign of preparedness. Note that for every business card you receive, you should be able to give one in return.
Unlike stationary billboards and posters, business cards offer self-promotion that won’t break the bank2. For less than the cost of a large pizza or a morning latte, you can get about 100 business cards. Yes, it will cost more if you change some basic elements (like the quality of the paper, color, or add other unique designs), but if you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to.
Because of their size, you can hand out a business card to almost anyone at any time. There is no need to direct people to a specific site. Having pocket or wallet-sized business cards means you can take your marketing efforts further and in real-time. It’s like a quick summary of your business and company profile all on a palm-sized card.
Pretty much everything is digital these days. From dating to grocery shopping, there is a lot you can do online or via a smartphone. Marketing is certainly done digitally, but the web is saturated with so much content that a simple “go check out my site” isn’t going to be effective. And unlike websites or data connections, business cards don’t go down3
Regardless of what field you’re in or trying to market to, your business card should be a unique expression of your company. You’re selling yourself amongst thousands of others, so you need to stand out. This is where the design elements come into play. Having an aesthetic that is consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts is key. Additionally, consider the fact that the format, color, and the material of the actual card can be used as a conversation starter.
If you can’t make it to a marketing event, you might be able to get one of your strongest employees to go in your place and act as a representative. But it’s not enough to just send a person in your place. That is where the business card comes in handy. If you have an excellent design, then that will reflect in your employee as they network for you. You’ll also be instilling trust by allowing someone else to represent you and your company, which is an added bonus.
Nowadays, networking events can happen either in real-time meeting rooms or in digital format. Whether it’s a swanky cocktail hour or a video call, you need to be able to have something other than yourself to represent your brand. You must be able to adapt in your marketing technique. By using a business card, either digitally or printed, you’ll have access to a wider audience.
If you’re at a mixer with 50 or so other like-minded individuals who are also trying to get noticed, the target audience won’t have time to sit down with each of you. They might not even want to do that. Business cards capitalize on the little time you do have to make an impression and share your information with the people you are trying to make connections with in a limited space of time.4
This is the most important reason to have business cards. They can be a marketing representation for practically any business, from restaurants to tire shops. And they help generate new business while also helping with retaining loyal customers.
Featured photo credit: graphicsfuel.com via graphicsfuel.com
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