Business cards do not work like they used to – for many of us, that is. The emphasis and purpose have changed from being an advertising vehicle to being a conveyor of contact information.
If someone whom you never met has one of your business cards because you did a direct mailing that included your card, you pinned one on a bulletin board at the laundromat or other public places, or perhaps left a stack at the checkout of a restaurant or local establishment, you might be expecting that person to contact you. However, relying just on your business card by itself to make an introduction for you, generate interest in what you do, and then lead to a contact is expecting your card to be a marketer for you. That just isn’t practical.
For us who provide aging in place services for renovation leading to increased safety, or accessibility, we must have a personal connection with our potential clients. There has to be a trust and likeability factor established. This would be assigning way too much importance to our business card if we expected this to happen for us.
Admittedly, someone who might be looking to rent a room, get new tires, buy a boat or some other item of personal property, or even personal services such as a trainer, dog groomer, or the like, might stumble onto a business card that they somehow located. As a seller, someone might have a limited amount of success by randomly passing out their business cards in hopes of someone noticing what they do, but this does not describe us or what we do.
There are many people looking to remodel their kitchens, add-on or reconfigure the space in their homes, or have other functional renovations done, but an indirect contact by way of a business card being left in an establishment or just passed out indiscriminately is not a strong way to begin a relationship. It might generate a phone call, but likely from people who are price shopping or looking for a bid.
Long ago, kings, knights, and other important people would send emissaries (much like ambassadors used by heads of state today) to spread their message. These people were called heralds – from which we get the common usage of the name for newspapers, blogs, and newsletters. At one time, and in some very limited applications today, our business cards can be that herald, but this is not its usual role.
Most of the time, we will have met someone in person and physically handed them our card to remind them of who we are later, to give them some degree of comfort that they are working with a legitimate business (although business cards are easy to print and acquire) and to convey the information they will need to call, email, visit, or otherwise contact us again.
The role of the business card has changed dramatically from spreading our message when we weren’t there to do it ourselves – a passive use of the card – to being one of just reinforcing the contact we have made and providing information people need to communicate with us in the future.
As such, cards don’t need to be a huge investment. They need to do the job of conveying our information, and not much more. They can be attractive, but they don’t need to be elaborate. Just as a website is like an electronic brochure in many respects, the business card is like our contact record that we can hand to people.