Seriously, you ask? Business cards?
Yes, even to this day when everyone has a LinkedIn, a Facebook, an Instagram, even a G-mail, the business card is still what people ask for most often, and is still the most effective form of marketing.
Just the other day, I returned to the town where I had run a successful hyperlocal news publication for many years to attend a funeral. After the service, I met many people whom I had lost contact with over the years.
“Do you have a business card on you?” is what they all asked.
The reason is because no one wants to pull out their phone, open up their contacts, and create a new contact for you. It’s so much easier to just accept a business card and add a new entry into their phone later (or just lay it on their desk). The act of mingling at social gatherings is fast-paced. Everyone wants to reconnect with as many people as possible, and fumbling with our phones is seen as unproductive.
“Never go naked!” is what one city councilman advised me.
This story goes back to 2009, when I was covering the dedication ceremony of a new city park in the same town. My publication was getting a lot of reads, but very few business people were willing to buy advertising from me, mostly because they still didn’t know me, or trust me. When I saw the city councilman there, I saw an opportunity to break the ice with him. The impromptu meeting went well, but then he finally popped the dreaded question…
“Do you have a business card on you?”
Embarrassingly, no I didn’t. I had assumed that he could look me up in my publication.
That’s when he gave me that piece of advice. It turns out that this city councilman meets so many people, and so many other reporters too. He can’t remember everything that happened to him each day because he’s inundated with people clamoring to meet him. My opportunity to earn his trust (and his endorsement of my work) would have to wait for the next meeting.
Today, business cards are so easy to create and so cheap to buy. VistaPrint.com has cornered the market on it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t already have cards.
Moreover, as memorable as your name might be, people still won’t remember you. Just look at yourself. You see how busy you are, and you see how many things you’ve got going on. But the people who do remember are those that left a business card in your pocket. Had you left your business card in their pocket, they’d remember you too.
The number one reason why people don’t have business cards?
Because they think their address, phone, logo, or website is going to change soon. They don’t want to spend $10 to $20 on a box of cards that’s going to become outdated within the next six months. But come on, really? You’re going to “naked” for the next six months and put yourself at risk of losing potential contacts, all for a measly $10 to $20 in unused cards?
Just get the cards now, and change them again in six months. It’s THAT important.