During the 1800’s, cards were utilized by the servants of aristocrats and royalty as a way to announce the arrival of their owners. Around the same time merchants began distributing “trade cards” to current and prospective clients that included maps, advertisements and invoice amounts. The modern day business card was officially born. While the printing format and method of distribution varies by culture, the business card serves the singular purpose of being part of the initial introduction between business contacts.
When giving a plant tour for a visitor, I explain our varied print capabilities to them. One of the things that often surprise them is not only that we print business cards, but the amount of money that some people are willing to pay for business cards. With good creative design and the utilization of different finishing techniques, the final bill for a business card can easily range from $500 to $1000. This can come as quite a shock to those that have utilized some of the online printing companies that offer business cards for as low as $9.95. Why would someone want to pay 100 times that amount for a business card when they can get one online?
When meeting someone for the first time, it is often said that you have seven seconds to make a first impression. What better way to make that impression than by presenting a business card that stands out from all others? With people receiving hundreds of media touches on a given day, it is easy for the business card exchange to become just one more touch that is quickly forgotten. By using a business card that truly stands out from the rest, you can increase the chance of being recognized, and make that first impression a truly memorable one.
One of cultural differences that truly impresses me is how a business card exchange is handled in Asian countries, most specifically in Japan. The giving of a business card in this area of the world has great significance. To appear at a business event in this part of the world without a business card is akin to entering a meeting in the US without shaking hands. Cards should be kept in a decorative case and should be presented with both hands holding the corners. The recipient should acknowledge and is expected to offer some sort of compliment regarding the card. In addition, you should never just stick the card in your pocket.
Take a look at your current business card and imagine being the person that would be receiving it. What message does the card convey? Is it memorable or remarkable in any way? If not, now may be the time to think about a new design.