Being a web type I’ve often thought that if someone needs to find me and I’ve done my job correctly they’ll be able to get in touch by visiting my website, which if they don’t know the address can be found with a quick Google search. Easy! People I meet can learn about my work through the quick and popular method of the 30-second-lift-speech (which I must admit I still need to work on) and thats all I need when face to face with a potential client.
Reading and listening to the opinions of fellow freelancers I heard enough reasoning to make me believe this was really the way forward for a handful of reasons!
This reasoning I fully agreed with, why waste my time designing cards and paying for a print run if they weren’t going to be much use? I really felt there wasn’t much of a point with a classic technology-rules-the-day attitude. All reasoning I started to believe was more then a little naive.
Armed with a hardline view it all started to come into question when started talking to a person I’ve known for many years but have only ever seen once every 3-4 months at certain social events. Last time I saw him I found out that he ran web servers for a living and so we got chatting. I told him about my freelance web work and he asked whether I had some business cards which of course I didn’t, something he seemed genuinely disappointed with! Here was someone who often got asked if they provided design as well as hosting services and would have happily passed on my details to these people.
I felt a bit stupid after that encounter and wondered why, I had put my points across but with little success. If one person can be disappointed so easily by what I thought was such a small thing then it’s something that would crop up regularly. I started to think about what a business card really meant and came to the realisation that it still holds a lot of weight especially for anyone that has to pitch for their own work.
When you have had your chance to deliver that well polished thirty second speech with a silver tongue that could charm the pants off Dame Judy Dench * *Shudder* * that doesn’t mean the person you are talking to has the time to stand around, get their phone out and take your details. They may be bad at remembering names, you may ruin your cool by trying to explain that you don’t need a business card if they ask for one. Having a card factors out a lot of potential embarrassing scenarios.
A card can be taken and the details transferred to their phones or computers at leisure later, it has a physical presence that can sit on a desk or even in drawer and act as a reminder when they are rediscovered. The act of handing a card to an interested party is far easier then taking out phones and reading numbers, e-mail and web addresses, something which people can find uncomfortable, especially if they feel like you’ve forced them to take your details in such a manner.
A strong quality of the business card is that along with your general appearance and personality it is on the forefront of first impressions. When you hand over a business card it can say a lot about you and your business by its design and quality. We’ve all seen bad business cards and cards with “printed for free by [insert-name].com” written on it. Those cards can end up making you appear as a hobbyist rather then a professional. They are the equivelant of a hotmail address, free, anyone can get them and they can lack and portrayal of the pride and passion you should have in your work.
I really believe that attention to detail in a cards design makes a huge difference. With methods such as spot UV, foil stamping and die cutting you can craft something unique, beautiful and that gets you the attention your business deserves. These methods as well as looking great provide a real physical texture that can be of great benefit.
Handing over a cheap card usually gets a quick glance for politeness sake before being delved into a pocket, maybe to be forgotten until its time to wash those trousers. However if you hand over a card that feels good it’s going to peak that persons interest enough for them to want to look at it which in turn makes them more likely to remember it. If they like what they see they’ll often be keen to show other people and may even ask for more to pass along. If someone feels like they’ve discovered cool they will want to share their discoveries with others. It’s often that simple.
From that first impression with a business card it can really boost your chances that the recipient of the card will consider you for work or recommend you to a friend or colleague. Having an impressive quality card will give the person the image that you are a true pro, know your craft and would be solid to work with, something I believe that has a knock on effect to how they perceive your portfolio. If you give someone a business card printed for free they may search for similar elements in your work, where as if you dazzle them they’ll be more open and keen to be dazzled by your work. My reasoning for this? When someone has a perception of you thats the way they want to see you as people rarely want to admit they were wrong, more so if they’ve conveyed those thoughts to others.
It’s worth remembering though that you still need to talk to people and show them you’re knowledgeable, confident and passionate about what you do. A business card by itself isn’t a magical way to draw clients out of nowhere but it will be a big help in improving your chances after that first encounter.
What do you think about business cards? Are you for or against? Does it really warrant a point of debate? Is it frowned upon to refer to Dame Judy Dench in such a manner? I’m really keen to see what people think and to be honest get in touch with you guys that are among the first to start reading my blog. All general feedback about articles, the site or any questions are also really appreciated and encouraged!