Oh the joy! One of our team members is running out of business cards. So of course our team starts asking questions. (Creatives are like this. Always questions.) With all the smartphone hoopla, do we even need a business card today? Don’t we just tap our phones together?
Okay, maybe we should do a business card that has a QR code. That will look up-to-date. But let’s be honest, no matter how you tweak that QR code, it’s not a beautiful design element. Digital watermarks would solve that problem, but...Do we need business cards or not?
Of course we need business cards! When do you give out most of your cards? Yep, when you see people. And as a lot of business is done face to face, there's nothing like a really nice business card to break the ice when you first sit down to meet a client or network with a peer at a tradeshow.
Case in point: At a recent industry meeting I attended in San Francisco, most people pulled out their business cards for a swift and sociable introduction. Cards and pleasantries were exchanged, a few jokes and insights shared, and a new friend was made. Perfectly wonderful and productive.
On the sidelines, I noticed a young man fumbling with his smartphone frantically trying to enter his new BFF’s contact info. While he was typing, he couldn’t converse and missed out on some meaningful insights. Oh what a shame.
Business cards 1. Smartphones 0
Mobile Action or No Action codes
Even though QR codes continue to dominate the mobile-action market with a 68 percent share of activations in 2012, they are not the only player in this field anymore. The above share has decreased from a high of 80 percent the year before.
Options for mobile-action codes include QR codes, digital watermarks, image recognition, near-field communications, and augmented reality. But none of the business cards I’ve seen recently (and we get ample submissions to our www.PaperSpecsGallery.com
) features a mobile-action code.
In a recently published study on the topic, mobile engagement company Nellymoser found that “Nearly 10 percent of print advertisements studied contained some form of mobile activation in 2012.”
Even though 10 percent strikes me as low, I can see the appeal when it comes to advertisements. Scan the code and win. Scan the code for a behind-the-scenes peak. You get the drift. But these types of call-to-action might not be applicable to all businesses.
So for our cards, I’m still leaning towards NO mobile-action.
Business cards 2. Smartphone 0.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my iPhone. I love its many fine features, but will it replace my business cards? As long as we live in a world where people appreciate the visual and tactile experience that a great business card offers, and I’m given the chance to make a unique impression...no sir, I will not give up on my printed cards...even if they create a “bump-for-business-card exchange” app.