WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BUSINESS CARD
Much has been mentioned since we entered this dreadful pandemic about the future of one of the most loved printed items, the business card. Many of us have them, we remember fondly our first set (I still cherish some of mine) and eagerly awaited their arrival as a symbol of our accomplishment and importance as our career started to progress. Not only were they but they were a badge of what we had achieved to display to one and all, a symbol of status! Arguably the most printed item we all collected, I for one still have business cards passed to me from years ago from low end early digital shame to multi-level die stamped crafted examples that are art in themselves.
A bit of history
The business card was invented in 15th century China arriving in Europe during the 17th century being used as mini advertisements for merchants wishing to advertise their businesses way before shops were a common thing in a high street. Since then, they have been depicted in a multitude of movies where they have been everything from a calling card of the leading character to the coveted status symbol of a madman. Who has not seen the business card scene in “American Psycho”! Before the mobile, the business card was the connector to networking and business acquisition for any aspiring sales guy. Hopefully that is the only connection between print sales and established psychopaths!
Current view of the market
So, have we stopped printing them? Yes, for the most part we have as we are in an environment where we simply cannot risk the passing of a virus from one person to another. According to the BBC & healthline.com while Covid-19 can only last up to 24hrs on cardboard it can potentially last up to four days on some types of paper (May 2020). So why would we so willingly open ourselves up to the risk of infection. Of course, new developments such as the use of antimicrobial coatings may further reduce what is perceived as a relatively low chance of any infection (WHO).
Although any risk perceived is low, we still do not wish to take that risk, especially as we are still not gathering as we once did for trade shows and networking. But will their usage recover? Of course they will, there is no doubt about that, although how far away that is no one knows, nearly two years into the pandemic and we have no sign of full recovery just yet but live in fear of further lockdowns. But we as humans are creatures of habit and just as we long to socialise as we once did, we will seek to engage more so then ever in the ways that are familiar to us, especially to do business.
What are the benefits?
While we are only too aware of the obvious uses of the business card, not everyone appreciates the benefits that are not so obvious. They don’t run out of battery, allowing the exchange of details at a trade show or conference. They serve as a reminder the morning after an evening of “networking” of whom we engaged if for some blind reason we cannot recall, even if only a number and name is scribbled on the back of your own (provided there is no matt lamination restriction!). They also provide instant recall of those we know who can help us achieve what we wish by the information they display They are great brand ambassadors, often displaying our brand exactly as it should be, showing off great fonts, colours and print processes that can mirror the image we wish to portray of our brand. It’s a bit harder to bring up a website into a conversation even in our technological time. They can also tell you a lot about the person, how many of us have judged poor printed business cards thinking if only the holder spent a little more it could portray so much more of that person and/or business. Yes, there remains business card snobbery!
So , I think not and really hope not as they are a physical example of any business and key for real social networking, the kind that is not done on a zoom call. They are a badge of who we are and what we do, they show how much we think our company is worth by the effort and cost we put into them. They serve as a reminder that we still know someone who can at a company who does. Although we won’t use them in the quantities we used to, they will surely be around for a long time as people pass them from one to another to help one or both parties. Nothing else we carry, unless we wear a uniform that shows who we are or what our importance is within the business community, we can have a cool brand, code and a nice mobile but it is the business card that shows where we are!