Do Business Cards Still Matter?

Posted: 11th September 2017 08:41

There’s a famous scene in the 2000 movie American Psycho in which a group of investment bankers size each other up based on the quality of their business cards. It’s an amusing scene, but it also sheds some light on how serious business cards are in the corporate world. Or, should that be: how serious they were?

To some, business cards are seen as incredibly useful marketing tools, as they are wallet-sized adverts that can be carried around at all times. To others, business cards are impractical, outdated, and a complete waste of time and money, and they prefer to find other means to promote their company.

So, who’s right? Are business cards on the way out? Or should companies still consider them to be worthwhile when trying to endorse themselves? There’s no "correct" answer as such, but it’s still interesting to debate. It’s not as if they’ve disappeared completely like some would have you believe, as this is just one place we saw offering all kinds of business cards online (with natural paper, recycled paper, lamination, 3D UV coating, you name it). So, plenty of business card options still exist, but who wants them?

Here’s what people are saying on the topic:

Forbes writer J. Maureen Henderson

J. Maureen Henderson does make some good points about people thrusting a business card into your hand without actually telling you anything about themselves, as well as a story about employees forced to collect them at trade shows as a sign of how hard they worked. However, she does write a few odd statements which seem like gross exaggerations:

"The card someone hands you today could lead to a disconnected phone line or a dead email address tomorrow. Have business cards from startups in your rolodex that are more than six months old? If that company is still in business (and that’s a big if), it’s likely pivoted three times and changed its name at least twice."
Summary: Not a fan of business cards.

Lifehacker writer Patrick Allen

Off the bat, Allen believes business cards are a "road map to opportunity." He writes some interesting statements about how technology can often be unreliable if you want to find someone’s contact information, whereas a business card is always available. There are also some interesting points about how apps like Evernote can work with business cards using scanning technology. He might embellish the situations in which a business card is necessary, but it’s still a worthwhile argument:

"Suddenly, you notice someone that could be a potential client. What do you do? You introduce yourself and describe what you do, but at some point, you'll need to hand off your contact information. A business card saves you time and makes you look professional. You're not fumbling around with a pen to scribble your e-mail address on a cocktail napkin, and you also give them a sense that this isn't your first rodeo."

Summary: Definitely still necessary to have. writer Felicia Tsung

Felicia remains fairly neutral on the argument of using business cards, arguing that that, although apps like Bump and LinkedIn have made them less prevalent, they’re still important in some circles. She writes that they are simply another marketing tool to help grow your brand recognition, and offers some useful tips on design. However, she does admit that she actually works for a printing company, so perhaps her opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. All in all, there are still some valid arguments made:

"Business cards are a way to distinguish your brand from competitors. In face-to-face meetings or interviews, business cards are often the first time a client or employer are exposed to your brand. It’s vital for them to make the right impression. They offer the benefit of being both visual and tactile representations of your brand. The physical exchange and engagement creates a connection that can’t be recreated by LinkedIn or your website."

Summary: Thinks they are great (but does work for a printing company).