Becoming Obsolete?

by Bill Nolan

They have been a staple in the business world for years, but are the days numbered for business cards as we know them? Are they becoming dinosaurs and dead as the trees they are made from? Surely paper business cards aren’t that disposable, or are they?

When you think about it, what’s the life expectancy of a business card? How many have you left in your pockets, later to be destroyed by the washing machine? Take a look in your desk drawer. See how many are floating at the bottom – just hanging out. I’m guessing you have a pretty nice collection – one that puts Neenah Paper to shame. Obviously, in this digital age, some customs are sure to die, but the idea of the paper business card going away, well, that seems impossible. Or is it?

Business Card Apps

In this tech savvy world, digital business card applications are fighting to take center stage. These apps let you design and send business cards lickety-split to multiple devices, and you can easily create multiple cards for different purposes. The apps let your devices read and scan others cards in a multitude of languages, import information from your business social media pages and also add clickable links, to name a few benefits.

A Sampling of Digital Business Card Apps

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out. Going digital with your business cards, and the sheer volume of information that can be quickly shared with them, annihilates the paper business card’s capabilities. Here’s a look at a couple apps leading the way:

This app allows anyone to receive your digital business cards even if they don’t have the app installed. You are able to scan, share, update and store contact information with a simple swipe of the card. And you can easily create new cards for business or personal use from scratch. And the extensions take this app to the next level. Link your business card profile to email signatures, quickly upload snaps of received business cards to your CRM, plus tracking stats are available and more. COST – Ranges from $0 to around $200/monthly.

This app is real-time. For individuals and businesses and both Android and iOS users, Indigo lets you design your own digital business cards and share them with anyone at anytime. You can even track how many times your cards are viewed or who saved your contact information. Cards can include websites, social networks, resumes and most profile details you would like to add. COST – $0 to $7/monthly to open ended for Enterprise.

Touted as one of the best and affordable digital cards out there, the OneCard platform allows you to create a digital hub. It’s not necessarily an app. This one takes things much further. It gives your customers the option to choose how they connect with you online – through text, email, QR code, custom URL or through your social networks. For instance, you can have a bio to brag about yourself, a video introduction, a connection to your Skype or FaceTime and your social networks all in one place. Your customers can then save your contact information as they see fit to their phone – including their Wallet app. COST – Ranges from $0 to $120/year.

This is the “smart business card” app available for both Android and iOS. It allows you to simply create, store and send your contacts to all interested parties through an inbox, and they may also reciprocate on their devices. It also allows you to add a personal message, photo, logo or your LinkedIn profile together with clickable links to your website. Possibly more suitable for the individual, this one is clean and straight to the point. It exchanges contact information. COST – $0.

For businesses, for Salesforce, the CamCard app is also widely recognized as one of the best and affordable digital business card applications. It’s simple and robust. This intuitive software is able to read and scan cards in over 15 languages and also allows you to import information from your business social media pages. Its smart management system lets you organize your business cards by including notes, setting reminders, quickly searching, adding tags and sharing cards. Be more productive. CamCard is also cloud-based and touts real-time technology. COST – Ranges from $0 to $12/month per user.

Without a doubt, the technology behind digital business cards far outweighs what the standard paper card can do. There are plenty of instances where it would be the cool and logical choice to use – like tradeshows and conferences. With that being said, call me old-school, I am not ready to give up my “paper” business card just yet. As far as I’m concerned, they are pulling their own weight. Countless design options can make your card really stand out with its own specific purpose. You just need the right creative, the right paper,\ and the right message. Keep in mind, the digital business card won’t give you that jovial satisfaction felt when exchanging cards with someone that has an inferior design – hello “American Psycho”.

Paper goes even farther.

When you really analyze the benefits of paper cards, they do go a lot further and farther. Add a QR code call to action, or use them as appointment cards. Find unique purposes. Realize, you can leave your paper cards anywhere there is a bulletin board or place to stick them. If used as an appropriate cross-marketing tool, business cards become mini billboards, escalating exposure for your business and personal brand. You can’t do that with a digital business card my friends.

My advice, you ask, is to not blindly follow every trend that comes along. Dabbling in new marketing outlets and testing the waters is great, but I wouldn’t totally abandon a classic.

Keep in mind, when you do dabble, look for apps that transfer cards to devices without the app. Review “levels” of pricing and any additional cost for team setup. Also, see which apps have the benefits of linking to your online platforms like social media, websites, CRMs and video conferencing. Plus, recently release business card apps have the stats to back them up. Without these bells and whistles, business card apps become a cool parlour trick, like over half the apps you have on your phone.