Things are always evolving.
Anyone in the motion graphics or visual effects industry knows this is the truth, and with social networks popping up left and right on the internet, the methods of promoting yourself are no exception; but what does this mean for the more traditional methods of promotion such as the business card?
These days we are not all sitting around the conference table ogling each others business card like in the movie American Psycho. With the way the internet and technology in general has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, we are jumping on our laptops, tablet computers and smart phones connecting to wi-fi hubs in every corner coffee shop and 3G and 4G networks virtually everywhere else for business and for pleasure. We are consuming more online data than ever before, and with this new technology comes new ways to promote ourselves.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many. Newspapers and magazines felt the crunch as traditional paper subscriptions were dwindling, but they found a new resurgence online and through apps for various devices such as smart phones and the Apple iPad. Burning your reel onto a DVD and mailing it out to companies is a thing of the past as online video sharing sites and personal websites become the method of distributing your reel, as I mentioned in my previous article, Get Your Video to the Masses; and, with more people using online search to find what they are looking for versus more traditional methods, websites such as Reel Roulette (Spin the Wheel on Reel Roulette) allow anybody to quickly search through many reels in a very short period of time allowing more content consumption with less work.
So, what does all this mean for the more traditional methods of promotion such as the business card? Are business cards obsolete, being taken over by online promotional methods, or is there still a place for them in this digital world? To find the answer, I asked some movers and shakers in the motion graphics and visual effects industry this same question.
“I think that biz cards are DEAD for people in creative and technology driven industries. They are a hold over from another age. If people REALLY want to get your info and you made a personal connection, they can put your info directly on their phone or ask their friend about you later. They could even follow you on twitter directly from their iPhone. THIS is the way I connect. Not in a heap of cards on my dresser when I get home from an event.” He goes on to add, “If your in a creative business and under 40, lose the cards.”
“I would say that Google-ing my name is good. But if someone with a more common name it might be difficult to find them. As far as social network/services, I wouldn’t rely on that to promote my self/business. But I have found LinkedIn to be a good way to find people in terms of searching for a skillset/business.” He adds, “My business cards have helped if only in face to face situations and I’m networking or don’t want to write down a number… [They're] part of a bigger machine of promotion which includes my work web site and word of mouth.”
“I feel like the business card is most useful in social or networking event. You don’t want to have take a break from the conversation to pull out your phone, follow that person on twitter and get them to follow you. I take their business card, put in my pocket and then re-visit it tomorrow or later in the week when I’m in front of the computer. It’s also a great leave behind, if that person follows me on twitter when I first meet them in two weeks they may have forgotten who I was. But with the business card at least they think of me again when we are not together.”
“I think that business cards are a really important way to promote myself. Also I feel that business cards shows the person you are giving it to that you are more serious, not only saying your Twitter or Vimeo name.” He goes on to say about using Google search, “It’s a great source to find information and people. However it’s easy to get lost in the woods of information.”
“Handing somebody a business card carries a certain weight with it, even to the point of giving an appearance of professionalism. Does it hearken back to the older days where cards were king? To be sure, but from what I’ve seen in the design industry (and, to a lesser extent, the visual effects field) is that as so few are doing the business card thing simply having one is enough to make an impression, and from a networking angle, that’s the whole point.” He also adds, “Cards aren’t a one-stop solution; you need to follow them up with adequate branding, self-promotion (and these days) an online identity and so on; they’re a piece of the larger puzzle, a stepping stone, as it were. My cards boast no skills, no software and no industry; they’ve got a logo on the one side and contact information on the back. By my reckoning I’ll have given all this information to a person prior to handing them my card.”
“Personally I like having the business card on hand for events. I always prefer to add/follow right there in the moment, but if the conversation isn’t heading that way, its a good thing to leave someone with. I don’t think they need to be as jam packed with info as they once were, as Nick pointed out over a year ago!”
“I personally don’t think business cards are dead at the moment, but they are on the way out fast. Apps such as Bump on the iPhone have shown sharing information is as easy as bumping two phones together, and everybody has an email address, Facebook account, Twitter name or some other social media account to connect through. As time goes on, the simplicity of handing someone a card with your information on it will be replaced with a simple bump of our phones, a friend request online or a drag and drop of our contact information on our potential clients name. A Google search isn’t always accurate, especially if the search is for someone with a name as crazy as mine, and even a business card doesn’t help in that respect as they will have to type out what’s printed on the card. Why not make it easier for them by giving them a link they can click on or one “Accept Friend” button to push. The idea of a business card is to make it easier for the client to find you, after all.”
It would seem business cards aren’t completely dead and still have a place in promotion of yourself and your business, but don’t be surprised when the time comes when they are completely obsolete. As technology continues to advance so will the method of promotion; and just like newspapers, magazines and other forms of traditional media the push is going online. It’s important to remember, as was mentioned repeatedly throughout this article, that business cards are just a small part of the bigger promotional machine. It’s only a device that shows people where to go. It’s up to you to give them a place to go, and have what they are looking for.
If you choose to promote yourself using a business card and are looking for ideas on designs for your cards to set them off from the rest, here are a few more cards from people in the industry that might spark your creative juices. However, it’s good to note that ideas don’t have to come from people in the industry at all. Flickr has a great set of photos called The Business Card Pool that features many great designs from people in many different industries, and websites such as Designrfix.com has a series of posts that will inspire as well.
What do you think? Are business cards completely gone from your promotional efforts? Are they a waste of time and money? Please, share what you think and tell us what methods you prefer over handing out business cards.