How a business card, a handshake and a smile will always beat a day of Tweeting!
We tell our clients that business cards are the single most important marketing and networking tool at their disposal. Why? Because it’s simple, portable and if done well, very, very effective.
In the age of social networks and marketing, we’ve seen a huge downturn in demand for printed marketing and some people are questioning if business cards are still relevant! We could argue how intelligent this is but like all marketing, it has to be gauged on a client by client basis. With this downturn and the headlines proclaiming the death of print, you could be forgiven for questioning the relevancy of a physical business card.
But actually, as our lives have become more digitised, the business card has gained an increasing importance in the business world and I’d argue it’s now more relevant than it ever was.
“People buy People” is a common business quote because quite simply, it’s so true. It’s also true that you have to work very hard to put your personality across in the various social media channels. Most don’t have the skills and as a result a lot of companies have faceless social media feeds which are little benefit to their customers or themselves.
Face-to-Face marketing is becoming so popular as businesses realise that relationships can be built more easily and you can convey a lot more about yourself in a shorter time. Networking is a constant stream of ‘first impressions’ and this is where a great business card can speak volumes about its owner. Done well it’ll will back-up everything you’ve just spoken about when discussing your company. The business card will either confirm the impression someone has about you and your business or ruin it.
I recently met a gentleman who described his new business as the premium of London concierge services, especially set up to cater for the wealthy, foreign businessmen and their families. He then went on to describe the typical services he’d offer, ending it with “as you can imagine, we’re reassuringly expensive”. Wow I thought, then he handed me his flimsy, home printed business card and the previous ten minutes of conversation were rendered meaningless.
Business cards not only provides prospective clients information about your business and a way to contact you, it also displays your sense of style and personality. Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on how much time or money you’ve invested in to brand and business. If your card is given to someone by a third-party it should still convey your company’s brand values. It should act as your silent salesman, backing-up any conversation the person who has referred you has had, not fight against it as in the case of the concierge service. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get you yourself a well design, bespoke card, although one thing is universally accepted, which is don’t skimp on the stock your card is printed on. So unless you’re selling toilet roll, don’t print your business cards on something of a similar thickness!
Done well, your business card will be more than just a way to exchange your contact details, it’ll help tell your story. If this is all seems a bit too much, invest in a designer to do all this work for you. Obviously we can help with this and would be glad to do so!
Businesses today, if they can afford the time or staff, should be maintaining strong offline and online presence. The on-line social streams are multiplying and the days of the classic Twitter and Facebook combo for a B2C company are long gone. Like TV channels and magazines, the market has become fragmented. Now the job is to find the delivery mechanism, which is all these social streams are, that your target audience uses.
Use social networking to stay in touch with a wider audience, but extend your identity off-line, in the real world as well. There are so many networking groups out there, one will be right for you. Then combine these tools with more traditional marketing techniques and you’ll have a unique way of sharing your contact details, developing relationships and creating your sales funnel.
The lines between social media marketing and face-to-face business networking have all but disappearing. What is the right balance for your company can only be found out by research and comparative marketing. But what’s clear is that good, well designed and printed business cards are the cheapest, most powerful marketing tool businesses have today.
Next time you come back from a networking function compare all the business cards you’ve got with your own. How does it stand up? This will give you a clear indication if it’s time to invest in new business cards.
As social media evolves at a pace, conversely the oldest form of promotion, business cards goes from strength to strength.
It does something that tweets and the like simply can’t – it’s a tangible, concise way of saying, ‘this is what I stand for, this is me’!