In an era defined by digital dominance, where every business interaction is just a click away, the fate of the traditional business card seemed sealed. And when we plunged into the depths of a pandemic, the final blow appeared to have been dealt to this seemingly archaic tool.
However, against all odds, the business card has not only endured but is experiencing a surprising resurgence, emerging as a cost-effective branding powerhouse for small businesses and the self-employed. In fact, Google search data shows interest is on the up, searches for “business card printing” have increased by 49% in the past 12 months alone.
So, why is the business card making a comeback?
Historically, business cards have been used as a networking tool, but with many interactions turning digital their original purpose has almost become void.
However, due to a rise in new side-hustles and freelancers, the business card has taken on a range of different forms. The cost of business card printing is relatively low compared to other branded products and packaging available, meaning it suits the budget of those that may have a lower cash injection. And thanks to the innovative minds of some entrepreneurs, they have been given many new and useful uses.
The 6 useful new forms business cards have taken
The pandemic saw the rise of those looking to take up new crafts as hobbies to pass the time during lockdowns. Fast forward to now and those that perfected their skills have their own side-hustles selling what they make to bring in some extra money during the cost-of-living crisis.
Whether starting out on Etsy or selling directly from a website, to help elevate jewellery or pin sellers branding and build trust with consumers makers can use business cards as backing card for their products, offering a stylish way to present creations while discreetly incorporating contact information.
Giving the cards a purpose may also mean that the cards stick with customers a little longer, delivering a better chance of friend referral or repeat business.
Many of the big chains have loyalty apps which reward customers for repeat business, however, the creation and promotion of a loyalty app isn’t necessarily viable option for smaller, local-only businesses. This shouldn’t mean that they don’t have the opportunity to reward loyalty and encourage visits, however.
Designing a business card that also operates as a loyalty card which can be stamped or marked by the establishment is a great way to incentivise loyalty on a budget. One side can feature the branding and information of the business, while the other is home to spaces to record repeat visits or purchases, the result being a “prize” for those that fill their card.
Despite many of us having a literal calendar on hand or strapped to our arm, many still need a physical reminder of their appointments.
Mobile hairdressers, self-employed lash technicians, nail artists, personal trainers and more all operate by appointment and no-shows can be detrimental to their bottom line. Therefore, it is in the interest of both the client and the business owner that appointment reminders are provided in as many ways as possible. One of these ways is via an appointment card.
This takes the form of a business card on one side, and a space on the other in which to write the date and time of the next appointment/s. This enables the client to put the appointment details into their calendar when they get home and if gives the business owner an extra layer of reassurance that their client will remember to turn up, cancel in advance or reschedule.
While business cards can be designed to benefit the business, they can also improve customer experience. This in turn can build a relationship which encourages customer retention and referrals.
Using business cards to share some key instructions with clients is a great way to offer them additional support away from the business. One great example of this is a florist using their card to provide specific product care instructions post purchase. This would help to ensure the longevity of the purchase, which in turn reflects positively on the business.
Another example is a tattoo aftercare card. It is in the best interest of both parties that tattoos are cared for, as nothing is a better referral tool than a tattoo which has healed well. Giving customers a set of basic aftercare instructions, which is small enough to fit in a wallet, purse or pocket is a useful tool which is likely to stick with them for longer.
In both cases, once the instructions are no longer needed these cards can even be passed on depending on the customer’s overall experience, potentially widening the net.
Rewarding client retention
Online businesses may also want to reward repeat customers, but the logistics of a stamp-able loyalty card are a little complicated. One way to reward online customers for their loyalty is to design a business card which offers a “thank you” code that provides a discount code for buying again. These can be easily slipped into envelopes and packages, making them a great client retention tool for all types of makers and sellers.
The QR code was a tech feature which was also rescued from the brink of extinction by the pandemic. QR codes came onto the scene as an easy way to access a URL through scanning, but at the time of their inception not all phones had the capability to read them within their cameras, which caused many not to bother.
However, because of social distancing during the pandemic, many restaurants, cafes, and pubs made table ordering compulsory, which involved scanning a QR code to access the ordering system. This helped QR codes to boom in popularity and many businesses use them today. They can be utilised by businesses which require visuals to sell their services, such as photographers. Instead of printing expensive portfolios or relying on people to type in a website URL from a card, photographers can create a QR code which links directly to an online portfolio. This code can be put on a cheap business card giving the photographer the ability to share their work with whoever, whenever.
Business cards are not just about contact exchange anymore; it’s about creating memorable interactions, enriching client experiences, and fostering enduring relationships. From being a backing card for crafts to a catalyst of loyalty, the business card has gone from the brink of irrelevancy to become a versatile and budget-friendly branding hero.