With advent of social media, the importance of business cards is rapidly diminishing.

April 14, 2010

Relic of the 20th century?

I was cleaning my desk drawer at home this weekend and I came across an unopened box of business cards from my current employer. You’d think I’d be delighted to have found them: “There they are! I’ve been looking all over…” Instead it was more like I found a couple quarters in my gym bag. Nice but nothing of consequence. I’d hazard to guess a lot you have business cards lost in the junk drawer as well.

Join me in the hot tub time machine…

I remember getting my first business card from Leo Burnett. Oh, Joy! I was getting paid. Now, I was a man. The police would no longer eye my long hair suspiciously. My father would stop telling me to cut my hair. Yes, I used to have hair. I also recall having this dumb fantasy whereby my business card worked as an aphrodisiac on the women of Rush Street. Once a lady saw that embossed card saying I was a copywriter at Leo Burnett –the Leo Burnett- she would be mine! (One of the many flaws with said fantasy is that most everyone on Rush Street had a job.)

Anyway, the point is my business card meant something.

Fact is business cards are losing their luster. With most of us on multiple social networks, we’ve become ridiculously easy to find and to know. Our contact information, and so much more, is right there on Facebook, Likedin, Twitter and all the rest. Not only am I readily accessible on those sites I can easily be located and contacted via my blogs and on the company’s website. Whenever meeting someone new I need only tell him or her to “friend me” or “find me on Linkedin.”

Yes, we still pass them out at big meetings. Yes, they come in handy on vacation or at a convention. But for the most part ye old business card is becoming a relic from the 20th century. While I carry two or three in my wallet I often don’t even carry a wallet!

Curious: I’m not sure what our policy is at Euro RSCG. Did your company even give you a business card?

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17 Responses to “With advent of social media, the importance of business cards is rapidly diminishing.”

  1. I hope this isn’t true! I am horrible and remembering people’s names, so if I have to find them on a social media site I’m screwed haha This also begs the question if you want potential clients/contacts finding you through your Facebook/Twitter accounts. Sites that were made for social purposes, no business…

  2. SRP said

    Business card = Dodo Bird? Maybe the jury is still out but I doubt it…

  3. […] Relic of the 20th century? we was cleaning my table drawer during home this week end as well as we came opposite an unopened box of commercial operation cards from my stream employer. You’d consider I’d be gay to have found them: “There they are! I’ve been seeking all over…” Instead it was some-more similar to we found the integrate entertain … Go to full articles […]

  4. Jason Fox said

    How else will I register for a free lunch at the neighborhood Chinese place?

    • SRP said

      Funny. A perfect comment for Twitter -hint, hint?

      • Dan said

        Or the Chipotle off Grand and State. It seems as if they give free burrito’s to anyone who drops a card in.

        I’m curious what people think, or know, about Poken. They’ve been in business now for several years, claiming to be the electronic “social business card”, but I’m not sure if operations, or popularity for that matter, have really taken off.


  5. Fran Kras said

    I still have a business card and will have one for a long time to come. It’s a fun card and always gets a smile so potential new clients don’t have to wait until they get to my website to get an idea of my “voice”. It’s another tool in the old self-promotion kit.

    Just like I have a nail gun as well as a hammer.

  6. Kid Awesome said

    I only use mine to look up the address when I’m ordering stuff online. Plus, they aren’t very green, how many trees go timber to make one box of business cards of which only a dozen or so will ever be passed along. If someone give me a business card i’d think, “oh, how terribly 80’s. You must have just finished watching American Psycho.”

    • SRP said

      Kid A-
      I suppose a paper reminder of URLs has some value.
      “American Psycho” actually more recent than 80s, though we get your drift…

  7. Jeff Eaker said

    I keep all of mine on a shelf in my office. People get a kick out of it. It’s always the first thing they want to check out. I even made a resume page on my website out of ’em:


  8. Annette said

    Evidently, business cards are still going strong in Japan (http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/19/business-card-etique.html). Your card should be printed in your language on one side, and if that language is not Japanese, the card is to be printed in Japanese on the other side. The card is presented with the Japanese side up.

    • …also presented facing the person it’s being handed to, in order to read the name, title, etc. It shows prestige and level of seniority in the culture. I think it actually is a very effective way of introducing yourself in a business situation when two people don’t speak the same language. And when participating in this action, it makes me feel like my card says more about me than I ever thought. Formal, but makes perfect sense.

  9. If what you say is true – this guy (in the embedded video) is going to be very upset!


    Also – the American Psycho business card scene is also embedded in the above post.

  10. I LOVE a well designed business card, but unfortunately I think you’re right, we’ll eventually just transmit contacts to each other via mobile devices. I know that my first reaction is always to google someone if I need to get their contact info.

    I think that business cards have tangible value though as an integral part of the “we’ve actually met” ritual… like dogs sniffing each other’s butts; an agreement of mutual approval.

    Just my 2¢

  11. Tad DeWree said

    With the exception of the largest companies, where simply saying I’m Ceo of Coke is enough of an introduction, my clients find their business card is the single most important piece of advertising they use.

    With a start up, for some, a business card takes the place of an office, Not any card, but a well designed, well printed one. Starbucks will confirm Millions in business is done with a card passed across a thousand coffee shop tables every day.

    One client, an independent Oil executive credits our creation of a 130lb Cranes Cotton, 4/color, embossed, and triple engraved card (around $3 a piece) with upgrading his average transaction from $5000 to $50,000. His original $300k business now handles over $1 Billion (yes, with a B) in Assets. He squawked at it originally, then realized every contact that said “nice card” was a potential customer.

    Here is Dallas we have a little shop that still runs a 150 year old 10,000 psi engraving machine that uses hand engraved brass dies.The names of the cards being engraved reads like a who’s who of national politics, sports team ownership and finance.

    Cards require no electricity, work in any light, cost little and allow a very personal, human exchange to take place.

    If we could just explain to design and ad students that-no matter how hip it might be, no executive over 45 (ie: CEO, CFO…etc) can read type smaller that 10 pt, folks might find cards work like the were intended.

    You’re a thought-provoking guy, Steffan. Thanks for opening up these dialogues with all of us.

  12. I rarely pass out business cards anymore, even at networking events. I think if someone finds another important enough to remember, they will find them online. If not I’m sure the other person initiating the meeting would find the person compelling enough to search for them in the digital world. Social networking is so common today it makes sense for this trend to continue, and to expand into more industries where social media is not a mainstreem form of communicating to their community/prospects/clients. The world has gone digital, and little by little people have to change to stay relevant.

  13. I still think the essence of the business card is the archive of a human experience.

    The business card is still the imprint of a first impression because traditionally it has to be physically given. I remember the embossing and name on my first business card and the “impression” it gave to people (chicks especially) “HONEYWELL” Embossed – Cherry Red – Touchable, Elegant, Trusted…not to mention Expensive and Firm…but I digress.

    Do we submit the to ease and accessibility of digital media when it comes to the image of who we really are? Or do we make the time and trust the effort and the reward of the “face to face” meeting? “Link me” “follow me” “tweet “me” “friend me”. Would you ever finish a face to face meeting with “friend me?” No -you shake hands you remember phrases, thoughts moments, conjecture and decision. You remember the eyes the smell the chemistry the discomfort. The ease, the pleasure of mutually “getting it”.

    Social Media Mediums have been a great convenience great tool great information. But you don’t experience human interaction from a keyboard. You get what your are given. Human interaction is the only thing I think in our lives that is truly our lives. A handshake doesn’t have a backspace or a spellcheck. It’s the only thing that we as humans can count on being real. Business Cards? Still gives the first impression after the first impression. And you can make them look really cool nowdays…I say keep the printers printing and press the flesh. It probably get’s much less play they your backspace key.


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