The exchanging of business cards is one of Australia’s most valued commercial traditions, spanning nearly all industries. Business cards have proved to be an incredibly useful tool for marketing small businesses, just as effective with suppliers and other networking contacts as they are with clients.
However, we are now in the digital age, and many traditional business practices have altered to fit into the new technological era. Virtually all essential information that people need to learn and get in touch with a business can be acquired online – so does this mean that business cards are now outdated?
The truth is that business cards are still a useful tool for small businesses in Australia. Whether your business has gone digital, stayed traditional, or dabbles in a bit of both, business cards still have a place in your arsenal. Business cards can still build those all-important relationships with suppliers, clients, and business partners.
For tradies in Australia, having a strong social media presence still isn’t a given, so business cards are a popular way to pass on contact details. Even for businesses who have ‘gone digital’, it can give a professional touch to present a well-designed business card.
So before you throw out that stack of business cards, keep reading this article to find out the pros and cons of using business cards in 2021. We’ll give you all the information you need to decide if they are still relevant for your business.
Are Business Cards Dead?
Many people believe that traditional media and advertising methods will take a backseat as digital marketing gains momentum. That, however, is not always the case. Traditional media can actually complement a digital marketing campaign, allowing the business to reach the broadest range of customers at a cost-effective price.
There is something about physical business cards that clients still enjoy. This is why many firms, both large and small, continue to hand out business cards as a regular practice, despite having a website and social media accounts. Tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, gardeners, and carpenters are some of the businesses that still make maximum use of business cards.
It is crucial to realise, however, that just handing out business cards does not guarantee sales. Business cards should not be the only tactic you use, as they don’t give customers a good reason to purchase on their own. Instead, think of them as communication channels that may lead to a booking if handled correctly. Getting new clients, maintaining a customer base, and increasing conversions needs far more effort and strategy than handing out business cards. Still, they can be one solid ingredient in your overall marketing plan.
Still deciding if business cards are worth it in 2021? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of business cards in the modern era.
Cons of Business Cards
When it comes to business, we have to face reality: digital is here to stay. That means business cards just aren’t the silver bullet they were back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Here are some of the disadvantages of using business cards in 2021:
- Susceptible to wear and tear: Like all other paper products, these little cardboard rectangles are subject to wear and tear. Laminating business cards can help them last longer, but this also gets expensive very quickly.
- Easy to lose or misplace: Recipients can easily lose your cards, throw them away or just stick them in a drawer – either way, it means your business isn’t front-of-mind once the customer actually needs your service.
- Recipients aren’t likely to keep them: Many people actually avoid receiving business cards to prevent clutter. In fact, 88% of business cards are thrown into the garbage after a week of receiving them.
- Negative environmental impact: With the large number of business cards produced and thrown away, business cards aren’t exactly an eco-friendly option.
- Declining popularity: Many professionals use more modern, eco-friendly alternatives such as websites, social media, and online directory listings. Another low-tech solution is adding contact details to your phone’s contacts rather than accepting a business card.
In today’s digital age, these drawbacks may discourage some businesses from carrying business cards. Understanding these disadvantages, on the other hand, can help you use business cards more effectively. Before you dismiss the idea of business cards completely, check out the section below.
Pros of Business Cards
When it comes to marketing and business cards, there is a benefit for every drawback. Despite the growing popularity of online marketing, many individuals still use and appreciate business cards. Before deciding business cards are dead, consider the following benefits:
- A physical and tactile experience: just as people still prefer printed books over ebooks, there’s still plenty of appreciation for the humble business card. It’s memorable to receive something you can physically hold and keep.
- Great opportunity for brand design: you can personalise the look and feel of your business card, helping communicate what your business is all about. A clever and well-designed business card can instantly grab the recipients’ attention.
- Makes a professional first impression: giving out a business card communicates that you, as a tradesperson and a representative of the business, are credible, trustworthy, and professional. A legitimate business card tells customers you’re legitimate and conduct yourself well.
- Handy for all occasions: every time you want someone to remember your business, whether they’re potential client or business contact, you can simply whip out a business card. There is no need to log on to your computer, scroll through your phone, or spell out your details and phone number.
- Low-tech means reliable: even in locations without internet or phone service, events where phones are turned off, or when you’ve just run out of battery, business cards are the solid and reliable choice.
- Strengthens customer relationships: handing out a business card usually establishes a stronger personal relationship with the recipient. This potentially gives you better connections with your partners, suppliers, and customers.
- Cost-effective to implement: although you need to spend time and money creating business cards, they aren’t terribly expensive. In most cases, the design and printing costs are well within the budget of even micro-scale businesses.
With so many good reasons to still be using business cards in 2021, let’s take a look at who is still tapping into these business benefits.
Who Still Uses Business Cards in Australia?
As you can see, business cards are not entirely useless in the digital age. Here are just a few of the most common sectors still utilising business cards in 2021:
- Tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, handypersons, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, and carpenters.
- Bankers and brokers. When dealing with other people’s money, being credible and trustworthy is critical, and a sleek business card goes a long way towards giving a professional impression.
- Real estate agents. Similar to financial services, you need to exude confidence, trust, and professionalism. Business cards are also handy to give out at a property inspection, auction or open home.
- Graphic designers. If you are one of these professionals, you know the importance of proving your skills to your prospective clients. A beautifully designed business card highlights your skills and gives your clients a preview of what they will be getting from you.
- Government agencies and personnel. Especially if you’re dealing with old-school supervisors and managers, you’ll find many business cards still circulating in government jobs.
- CEOs and high-ranking executives. These roles lean towards more formal communications, and business cards are a standard, traditional protocol in the realm of professional networking.
As you can see, business cards still hold their own in the age of digital marketing.
Are Business Cards a Good Marketing Strategy?
By itself, a business card is not a stand-alone marketing tool. You shouldn’t count on a high-quality lead or a conversion because you gave someone your business card. There’s still a lot of effort that needs to go into making a sale and helping that client understand the value you can offer them.
The primary purpose of a business card is twofold. One is to convey important business contact details such as your name, title, website, business address, phone number, and email so recipients can quickly contact you. Two, it represents your brand as it can include your logo, branding, motto and other important branding elements.
In other words, your business card is simply a reflection of your company’s personality and a way to get in touch with you later. Business cards, therefore, should be used in conjunction with a solid marketing strategy if you want them to serve as promotional tools.
What Is Replacing Business Cards?
The advancement of technology has produced a range of alternatives to business cards. With access to our devices and the internet just a pocket away, most business information is now stored online. Digital business cards are even a thing now.
In addition, the following are also replacing traditional business cards in 2021:
- Your mobile device’s phone book
- Social media profiles
- Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn
- Website contact details
- Mobile apps
- Interactive video cards
As technology evolves, more efficient, more creative, and more flexible tools will continue to emerge in this space. There will always be newer and fancier ways to communicate and interact with people.
At this point, you may be torn and still be asking: do business cards have a future? Put it this way – in the age of e-books, e-magazines, e-publications, websites, and social media; many people still use physical books, magazines, and journals. Letters and physical documents are sent via post office and courier despite the existence of chat rooms and emails. Many businesses still use landlines for communication despite having mobile phones and computers.
It’s safe to say that business cards are here to stay, and remain a symbol of professionalism and trust.
However, they will most likely supplement digital marketing strategies, as just one element of how a business communicates with customers.
Are Business Cards Worth It?
It’s easy to think that business cards are going down the drain with the growth of new technologies like websites, social media platforms, videos, and interactive apps. But the truth is business cards are here to stay. Their simplicity, versatility, and traditional use make them resilient against the test of time.
Analysing whether your business cards are worth the money by measuring their return on investment can be a tricky task. It is not easy to figure out what revenue is being generated by your business cards, so business cards don’t have an obvious ROI.
However, physical business cards are typically low in cost and offer a wide range of benefits. You should also remember that the more you produce and print, the cheaper the printing cost will be. B
Business cards can reach a broad audience and facilitate a lot of sales at a super low price, so in terms of cost, business cards are definitely worth the money if you’re in one of the industries above.
Business Card Best Practices in 2021
The changes brought about by digital technology require a bit of change in the tradition of exchanging business cards in 2021. The following tips will help you make the most of your business cards in today’s business world:
- Be sure to organise your details effectively. You should make sure your important contact information is on the card (and 100% correct!) but don’t overload it with text either. Make sure all the elements flow nicely and the look is professional.
- Make your brand the focus. Your business cards should match your other marketing materials, like your logo, print advertising and website. Having a cohesive brand design that represents what your business is all about will get you the best results on a business card.
- Consider including a call to action. The best way to do this is to have a special offer or some kind of incentive. This will encourage your clients to take that extra step and get in contact with you.
- Make the most of a single business card. By this, we mean to use both sides of the card instead of leaving one blank. The reserve side of your business card can be used for appointment reminders, loyalty stamps or even as a spot to place a magnet!
- Don’t be afraid to think outside the rectangle. With so many business cards out there, why not change yours up to make it stand out? Try making your cards in a different shape, using a different material, or exploring design elements like embossing or metallic accents.
- Maybe avoid using cheesy punch lines, cartoons or useless statistics – these are overdone and outdated by this point. Business cards can still be relevant in 2021, but if your business card looks like it’s straight from the ‘90s, it may not make the best impression.
- Don’t skimp on quality. If you’re going to go to the effort of making business cards, go the extra mile and make them perfect – in fact, professionally designed business cards can really be worth the investment. This extends to the content, graphics, material and finish. Consider that the quality of your card says a lot about the quality of your business.
Keep these business card best practices in mind if you’re planning to print and hand out business cards in 2021. And of course, to get the very most from this tool, ensure your business cards are part of a thoughtful sales process and marketing strategy, not a stand-alone practice.
Is It Illegal to Put Business Cards on Doors in Australia?
According to the EPA, you cannot place advertising materials by wedging them on windscreen wipers, putting them on property gates or fences, and other similar places unless you have the owner’s express consent. The law isn’t clear regarding literally posting on doors, but let’s just assume that doors are covered under “property gates and fences,” meaning no, you should not put business cards on people’s doors. However, you can drop your business card, price list, or brochure in a property’s letterbox.