Today, sustainability is becoming increasingly important for companies and consumers across all industries. According to research, 62% of executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive, while 75% of consumers take corporate sustainability responsibility (CSR) into account when making purchases.
The use of trees in the production of mass paper products such as books, writing paper, newsprint, business cards among other commodities has been a widely debated topic over the years. Companies and consumers are becoming more open to paper alternatives for books, newspapers, and business cards.
“A business card legitimizes who you are, conveys the services you offer, and provides a means for customers to remember you after a first meeting while providing contact information.”
We live in a digital age where we engage with people online. Our social media accounts reflect our brand or beliefs. We use social media to vlog, share content driven videos, and network. Networking on social media has become as common as brushing your teeth when you first get out the bed (I hope). LinkedIn is one of the world’s top networking sites for companies and business professionals. YouTube is widely used to drive web traffic, promote products, and generate leads through video. Instagram allows users to immerse themselves in the lives of others through captivating photos. Facebook is great for increasing your brand awareness and showcasing your brand’s personality. When asking the question if we really need paper business cards to network, plainly, the answer is no. However, they are still a valuable networking tool.
A business card legitimizes who you are, conveys the services you offer, and provides a means for customers to remember you after a first meeting while providing contact information. Great first impressions dramatically increase your chances of future conversations and help build strong business relationships.
Let’s look at the Pros & Cons of using paper business cards versus digital business cards.
Paper Business Cards
- Paper business cards are an excellent way to grab a person’s attention, expose your brand, and make great first impressions.
- Paper cards are easy to share when networking with people face-to-face.
- Paper cards are a great way to establish a personal connection – to build strong, meaningful relationships.
- People, in general, are accustomed to receiving and exchanging business cards when networking. Also, paper business cards are highly regarded in countries such as China and Japan. Proper etiquette in China, requires you to bow, the counterpart extends his/her business card to you with both hands, you study their card with interest, then you bow and extend your business card with both hands.
- They are relatively inexpensive to print.
- For a well-designed business card, you may have to seek the services of a professional graphic designer. The average cost for a graphic designer ranges from $50 to $70 per hour.
- If you change your phone number, email address, web address or any of your contact information, you must reprint an entirely new set of cards.
- Paper business cards can accumulate relatively quickly, take up space, and can become overwhelming.
- For Contact Management, a business card scanner is needed to export people’s contact information into a CRM or online contact management platform.
- Research has shown, 88% of business cards handed out will be thrown out in less than a week.
- If your business cards are shipped, you will have to wait for them to arrive which can be inconvenient.
- Paper business cards are not friendly to the environment.
Digital Business Cards
- A digital business card differentiates you from your competitors.
- Digital cards are easy to share and most applications provide various ways to share your digital cards with people via text (SMS), email, social media and more.
- Digital business cards allow you to attach videos and external links (surveys, sign up forms, subscription lists, etc.), to make great first impressions, share contact information, and advertise services in a more engaging way.
- Digital business cards conveniently allow you to store all your contact information, web URLs and social media accounts in one place. If your contact information changes at any time, that information is automatically updated in the digital card, relieving the pain of having to reprint an entirely new set of cards.
- Digital business card apps are great for Contact Management. Some apps have an optical character reader (OCR) or business card scanner – allowing the ability to scan a business card and convert contact information into digital text which can then be saved inside the app or sync with a CRM program.
- Digital cards are easy to customize to your brand. If you choose to change the color or update your contact details, you don’t have to wait for a new set of cards to arrive in the mail.
- Some digital card applications are integrated with calendar systems such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendars. These integrations allow you to sync your calendar accounts and create reminder alerts or schedule follow-up meetings from the app.
- Digital cards are an eco-friendly alternative to paper business cards.
- Not all people and cultures are accustomed to receiving a digital business card. For some, the exchange may be inappropriate, or the recipient may not understand how to access your contact information or save it to their phone.
- Sharing a digital business card is not as personable as exchanging a paper business card, due to you having to enter the person’s phone number or email address inside the app to send them your card.
- If your digital business card application is buggy, it can cause issues when you attempt to share your digital card with others. If you choose a digital business card app, be sure to do your research, read customer reviews, and make sure the company and product are reputable.
- Depending on the application, the learning curve to properly navigating the system, understanding the features, and creating a digital business card may be high or not user-friendly. Make sure the digital business card application you choose is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and provides a user guide with clearly defined features.
When it comes to networking, making great first impressions, and exposing your brand; paper business cards and digital business cards are both excellent options – with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it comes down to what you feel most comfortable using when networking. In some instances, a paper business card is ideal, while in other situations a digital business card is more suited. The impact of technology has revolutionized the way we interact and engage with people; both online and in-person. Do your research (paper business cards, digital business cards, or a combination of both) and choose an option you feel will help you achieve your networking goals.
If you want to learn more about the advantages of using a digital business card, read our blog Why You Need a Digital Business Card.