Print Business Cards vs. iCards
From homing pigeons, to snail-mail, to the telegraph, telephones, and email, society has consistently adapted standard modes of communication to align with technological innovations. But as we enter a more digitized age, why have we not adjusted the way we share our contact information?
Traditionally, businesses and professionals have exchanged information using printed business cards, but more recently, technology has been developed allowing information to be shared at just the tap of a screen. With the world at our fingertips, is it time to do away with tradition and pivot to technology-based exchanges?
Background of the Printed Business Card
Modern-day printed business cards can be traced as far back as the 1500s when businesses adopted the use of calling cards, rebranding them as trade cards, to direct customers to their shops. Over the next 500 years, they transformed to include email addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, qualifications, and QR codes. While other aspects of business have become digitized, many professionals have remained committed to their print cards.
Printed cards do have their perks, after all. A well-designed card can serve as a physical indicator of the quality of service you can expect from an exchanger. A printed card might make a person more memorable, as handing someone a printed business card is much more personal than simply clicking “connect” on LinkedIn. Ultimately, printed business cards have a unique way of showing off a person’s brand and style.
Printed Cards and Trash Cans
How many meaningful interactions are actually sparked from the passage of the card from hand to hand? According to AccuStatistics, although 10 billion cards are printed in the United States annually, an estimated 88% of printed business cards are discarded within a week of exchange. Wow.
Not only does that create a significant amount of unnecessary waste, both paper and money, but it leaves only 12% of these cards that can potentially lead to any type of productive relationship. Of course damages and losses make up a portion of that 88%, but in most cases, the disposal of the card is due to an initial lack of intent to further develop the relationship.
This begs the question – is the business card dead? Are there other means of exchanging contact information that are more likely to lead to future connections?
Digital Business Cards: The Advantages
Fortunately, as technology has become increasingly prevalent in business transactions, more tools have been engineered to facilitate these relationships. Professionals are now able to share all of their contact information with ease, simply by sharing their iCards from their mobile devices via text, Airdrop, or email. Applications have also been developed where professionals can craft a digital business card that can be shared in a similar manner.
If done correctly, digital information exchanges hold many advantages over a traditional printed card. A digital business card can hold more content than a physical card, including a short 10-second descriptive clip, links to business websites, and social media pages. Calendar links to schedule a meeting, surveys, and even subscription forms can also be integrated. The digital form enables all of a business’s information to exist in one location where it is not subject to physical wear and tear or potential losses.
The exchange of an iCard or digital business card might also give insight to parties as to what to expect from the relationship. Let me explain. When using a print business card, the giving party would expect that 88% of the time, they will never hear from the receiving party. With a digital card, the giving party would expect the chances of future communication to be significantly higher. Therefore, any hesitancy on the giving party’s end to send their iCard might indicate to the receiving party that the giving party does not have intentions to further develop a relationship. And vice-versa.
So while transferring a printed business card may be faster, you receive more information from a digital card, both in contact information as well as a better understanding of the relationship’s potential.
To completely retire printed business cards, one needs to have a high emotional intelligence and a preference for quality over quantity. Doesn’t it take more courage to ask for an iCard to be texted versus handing out a business card?
Digital Information and the Future
While printed business cards tend to be discarded, creating unnecessary waste and costs to professionals, digital exchanges of contact information tend to be valued more highly for being more content rich. With the additional benefits of facilitating more meaningful relationships and ease of exchange, these digital methods are the future of networking. Perhaps it is time to shed outdated practices and fully embrace technology and its role in business.
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Spirit Consulting is a boutique management consulting firm with clients across multiple industries and regions of the United States. We offer expert consulting in Executive Search, Business Strategy, HR Consulting, Executive Coaching, and Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Rooted in our relational, client-tailored approach, these service lines work synergistically to maximize your organization’s potential. Call (630) 621-3411 or email [email protected] for more information on how Spirit Consulting can help create the best version of your business. If you are interested in applying to jobs we are retained on, please visit www.spiritmco.com.
Post written by Caroline McMullen