Paper business cards? Pssshttt…Gutenberg would be proud.

Jack Blog

June 8th, 2011 By Jack Morton

I was at a high tech networking event a few months back, and the place felt very future forward – bright video monitors everywhere, iPads galore, and clever integrations of technology by the boatload (twitter feeds, QR codes…although the jury’s still out on whether QR codes are actually useful…most marketers seem to think they’re God’s gift to consumers, but come on, QR codes in the subway?  Fail.)

Anyway, against this backdrop of vibrant, humming technology, the entire thing always seemed to come to a screeching halt when people would whip out their crumpled, dog-eared business cards to exchange their personal info, 1950’s style. 

I get that well-done business cards (the nice paper stock, raised lettering, color scheme, graphics) are a great way to showcase a company’s personality etc, but come on…it’s 2011.  Should we still be exchanging personal information the same way that Sears Roebuck traveling typewriter salesmen did 100 years ago?  Alright, that’s a weak analogy but you get the point…think of some type of outdated industry that’s old…really old.

How great would it be if you could just zap your business card over to someone using your cell phone?  No need to remember to bring a stack of cards to a meeting or kill tons of trees.  (In all fairness I’m sure there’s a way to do this right now but I’ve never done it, or seen anyone do it…so the point is there’s some reason people are clinging to paper business cards…whatever exists today is probably not as quick, easy, intuitive and simple as it should be, which is preventing it from becoming widespread.)

To me the retirement of the paper business card is well overdue…companies should look to enhance EXISTING cultural practices (like the exchanging of business cards) through the use of EXISTING, commonplace technologies (like cell phones).  That way it’s still business as usual, but updated for the 21st century. 

Too often companies think they need to introduce a complete game-changer and a new type of technology (RIP flip video cameras…maybe even the same for 3D TVs) to get consumers’ attention, when all that’s needed is really just an evolution of something that’s been there all along.  A keystone of improving the consumer experience is finding solutions that work well within existing technologies, which are capable of spreading easily and quickly – that’s the hallmark of true innovation.