A curious effect of the smartphone revolution has been the tendency to try to replace every traditional item carried by your average Joe with an electronic version. Coupons? Download ‘em. Maps? GPS, baby! Raincoat? Hello, weather app. This trend has also tried to take on business cards, which have long been standard fare for any self-respecting businessman. You might have heard your neighbor bragging about doing away with them and “bumping phones instead” (is that code for something?). It’s a dilemma, and we’re tackling it in this week’s FPF. Our answer might surprise you.
If you’ve watched American Psycho, you might know about the subtle delights of having a traditional business card.
Even in this digital world, a business card belongs on paper. Its substance gives weight to your business, it’s easy to find pinned to the fridge, and its exchange offers an age-old bond between business and customer. In Japan, the business card exchange has become a unique and elaborate ritual, the breaking of which is liable to get you beaten up, Kill Bill style.
Paper cards are also less likely to be filed neatly into some corner of a cyberspace and never looked at again. Because of the valuable habit of sticking around on desktops, in pockets, on fridges, as bookmarks, paper cards offer the customer that necessary extra nudge to call you and do some business.
The Digital Move
There’s nothing technically wrong with having a digital business card. The problem is that at this stage, there hasn’t been one single platform that has won a significant portion of the public over. This means that whatever system you choose will not be compatible with a significant portion (think, a majority) of your clients.
Even worse, some platforms claim to be universally compatible but suffer from side issues—imagine the frustration of a client trying to decode your phone number, now scrambled, or having to transpose your email address, now in Cyrillic (or rather, Кирилица).
One day, all these issues might be resolved, and then, you might want to consider doing away with the paper.
Until then, feel free to try out all the digital options (who knows, you might bond with a like-minded tech-savvy customer over bumping, swiping, bending, or bouncing phones while exchanging information). But for now, hold onto that paper with confidence. Analog is reliable, which is the precise quality you want your business to project.