In today’s digital world, business cards may seem a bit archaic.
But even in this electronic age, those little paper identifiers aren’t showing signs of disappearing anytime soon. Instead, they’re just becoming more visual, colorful and creative, say experts.
“They are absolutely, positively, unequivocally not dead,” says Ivan Misner, founder of Charlotte, North Carolina-based BNI, a worldwide business networking organization, and co-author of "Who’s In Your Room?" (Indigo River Publishing; $14.95). “If anything, there certainly is more creativity.”
With advances in printing over the decades, business cards have changed from the old-school white cards with black ink to broader options including full color and a tactile feel like those created on wood or metal, he says.
While wood and metal cards aren’t the norm, cards in general are much more visually appealing than in years past, says Misner.
It's hard to ignore that networking is increasingly done digitally, but you don’t have to ditch your cards, says Misner. You can incorporate the digital world by including your LinkedIn or Facebook URLs on the card, he says, combining the “best of both worlds.”
In general, the type of card you have and how creative you get vary depending on your business, he says.
Lisa Chalker, president of Family Affair Distributing in Massapequa, which specializes in imprinted promotional products, decorated apparel and gourmet gift baskets, decided last year to try a new approach to her business cards.
She now hands out a detachable business card that’s built into a pocket-sized tri-fold brochure created by Lorraine Gregory Communications, a marketing communications firm in Edgewood.
“I have to differentiate myself, especially since I’m telling people that I’m creative,” Chalker says. “I need to walk the walk.”
She still carries a regular business card, but if she meets prospective leads, she’ll hand them the card/brochure combo. It helps them learn more about her business, especially since her firm's name doesn’t tell people what she does. “They’re very well received,” she says.
Greg Demetriou, president of Lorraine Gregory Communications, says he designed this kind of handout about two years ago. It comes in three different sizes, each with a business card that can be detached on perforated lines.
He created it for “when a business card is just not enough,” says Demetriou. “When you hand someone a card like this, it makes a big impression.”
He says they’ve been growing in popularity.
Evan Bloom, co-owner of the Westbury, Hauppauge, and Melville franchises of Sir Speedy, a print, marketing and signage company, still finds most people want a standard business card, but many are opting to make them more visually appealing.
“We can make more interesting, nicer and fancier cards that stand out more,” he says. For example, some people may opt for thicker cardstock.
“When they feel heavier stock, they equate that to being more expensive and upscale,” says Bloom.
They may also add finishing options such as a soft, velvety feel. His own card has a raised UV coating over his logo so it feels elevated and shiny.
“People are spending a bit more on their cards because they’re doing more interesting things with them,” he says. Prices vary widely depending on the type and quality of the cards and whether they are ordered in bulk or are custom-made.
Still for some, less is more.
Adrian Miller, a Port-Washington-based sales trainer and founder of Adrian’s Network, a networking organization, doesn’t necessarily prefer cards that are glossy, laminated or too busy.
She likes jotting down notes on the back of people’s cards so she can follow up with them later. If she gets a glossy/laminated card or one with too many graphics, then she can’t do that.
She used to have three separate business cards but now has all her information on one card, including three websites, one email address and one telephone number.
Having multiple cards can be tricky, which is why Paul Trapani, president of LISTnet, a local tech advocacy group, and co-manager of the Digital Ballpark co-working space in Plainview, recently started using a digital app, BIZIT, to store and electronically share his cards.
He has his LISTnet card, but he also has a card for his software consulting company and at times carries cards for other firms he represents.
He can create a card on the BIZIT app or upload his own cards and then share them with people via email or text.
“I think people are receptive to it,” says Trapani. “I never have to worry about running out of cards anymore.”
Anthony Santo, co-founder of Manhattan-based BIZIT, says the app has been downloaded about 3,000 times since it launched in 2016. The newest version was released last year, and over the past several months new features have been added, generating more interest in the app.
One feature LISTnet is considering using for a future event is called "organizations." Here an entity can create a group and have users join and upload all their contact information and chat within the app. They can even update their information within the app so if someone leaves an organization, everyone can still stay in contact.
“It’s one centralized place to chat, and you can have these contacts forever,” says Santo.
But despite features like this, Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group Inc., a customer service training firm in Massapequa, still likes the idea of a physical card. She likes to think her card serves an added benefit by offering insightful tips.
The front of her laminated card has her business/contact information, but the back has a list of 10 ‘'keys to great customer service.” She says people have saved her card for years because they find that information valuable.
“It’s different and unique,” says Busse.