1. Business Cards Overview
What is the history of business cards? Who makes business cards? What types of cards are there? Who gives them? What is put on business cards? Why are business cards used? How to manage a collection of business cards? Is there a better way than business cards? How are electronic business cards used? All of these questions make for an interesting discussion of this widely used business necessity. The history started in France and continues through today. Each piece of the business card story will show how its use has changed over time. Cards have gotten better looking and printed on better paper stock. Die cut cards were the fashion for a while, but they seem to have lost their appeal. This area of business is difficult to change permanently although businesses are always looking for new ways to impress their potential clients. Business cards are used every day to announce one person who is seeking to speak with another. They are presented in person or through the secretary. The cards are then left behind on purpose so the person called upon has the caller’s personal information. The subtle convenience of a business card belies how useful this one business idea is and why it is so hard to find a better way to handle introductions. The quality of the business card and its appearance speak volumes about the person or business presenting the card. A smudged or ragged looking card can ruin an initial impression of the presenter. As a result, it is always a good idea to carry a fresh supply at all times.
2. Business Card History
The forerunner of business cards started in France at the time of King Louis XIV. These cards were then the size of playing cards and were called visiting cards. They were used by ladies and gentlemen with specific etiquette standards as to how or when they would be handed out. Later, the size was decreased, but the use remained the same. It was considered rude or impertinent to not follow the etiquette of card use when visiting another person. In England, the use of Trade Cards became standard and developed from the visiting card idea. The card size decrease and the information on the card became more like what we now see on our business cards. At this time cards were used as a formal way of introducing yourself and there was a certain ritual to the way they were handed out and received. Ladies and gentlemen followed very prescribed rules with regard to the use of these cards. They were also used to note a deal or a debt. They were used as a reminder of an invitation that had been extended by the card giver. Money pledged via your card was a matter of honor and the card proved your intent at the time. These visiting cards were also used in courtship and for all manner of social occasions. This practice has been lost to history now, but the elegance of a personal card still speaks well of the presenter.
3. Printing Business Cards
Most people think of a business card as a small paper card with printing on one or both sides. This printing is done by local printers and by many companies listed on the Internet. Cards can be printed in one color or in a four-color process. Printers can turn them out quickly once the artwork is approved. Printers charge over a wide range of prices for this finished product. It is worthwhile to get bids for business cards from at least three sources. This effort will save money and still assure a quality card. Quality cards imply quality in other areas of the card giver’s business. The newest idea in cards is the business card CD. These providers can be found on the Internet and in larger cities. Not everyone can make this type of card. This is a specialized product area. Another card that is sometimes hard to find is one that Is UV coated. Not all printers have this capability. UV coated cards have a three dimensional effect when looked at. Again the Internet is a good source. A card with a photo that is UV coated will make the image stand out. As a final point, the additional cost is negligible but worth it for the way it makes the business card more presentable.
4. Types of Business Cards
The types of business cards that can be purchased are many, varied in material and standard or exotic. Paper cards with normal printing are the most commonly used cards in the business community. The next set may be on thin plastic and then the material can be magnetic material or wood or any other printable surface. The inks used can be standard or inks that expand when heated. The cards can be raised or engraved. Cards can be made with a foil insert of gold or silver. The cards may have a hole in them or be die cut to an odd shape. The newest cards can be electronic and playable on a computer CD player. The buyer of business cards is not limited to paper cards with one or more colors on them. Their choices have grown as the business card innovation has expanded. Today there is business card available for any one that needs some, no matter what kind of card they want. When buying business cards the purchaser should consider buying in quantity if the information is not likely to change. One or two thousand cards are not that much more than the cost of buying 250 or 500 cards. If there is a need for more than one person’s cards, it is wise to get them together as there can be a savings created by purchasing their cards at the same time. This is definitely true when the only change from one card to the next is the person’s name and email address.
5. Business Card Information
A business card can contain many types of information. The obvious information is name, business name, address and phone number. Additional info could be web address and e-mail address. The other side of the card could be a product list or other company information. Calendars are sometimes put on the card as a way to get the customer to save it and be reminded of you when they look up a date. Charts and rates can be put on the card for tech information or measurements. The most important information on a business card is the contact information. This is the basic reason these cards are given out to clients and customers. It is a convenient way to pass important facts to a client. The computer world has added to the information put on business cards. Web addresses and email addresses are commonly put upon cards. If there are special client areas on the website, a password and user name could be given on the card. Any important information that a person wants to leave with each card recipient can be added to a business card.
6. Who Needs Business Cards?
Sales reps, company employees and managers give out business cards. Doctors, dentist, and lawyers use them for two reasons. The next appointment can be written on it and the contact information is kept handy. All of the home service providers use them for their clients. There are very few businesses that do not use business cards. It is just very easy and convenient to give out details that may be needed later for contact. Business cards can serve as advertising for private groups or business people. They can also be used when cold calling on homes or businesses. Leaving a card may seem like a waste of time, but you never know when the prospect may need exactly what you are offering. Meanwhile, sheriffs, police and detectives give out cards all of the time so the people they are talking to can contact them if they think of something to add to an investigation.
7. Business Cards are Necessary
Business cards are used to efficiently give pertinent information the client may need for future contact. Handing out a card to a client has become a standard operation in the business world. The person making the call on the client is expected, it seems, to make sure the person being called upon knows who is calling on them. Sometimes it is just for the benefit of the gatekeeper (secretary). It is best to always leave a current card with the person you are calling upon. This keeps an embarrassing situation from happening. This stops the situation where the person cannot remember your name or your company. With a new card this is alleviated. It also reminds the person called upon of previous conversations with you. It may be as simple as the handing of a card is just part of the custom of calling on a client. Business cards do away with having to write your personal information for every client. Cards get saved. Pieces of paper get lost or thrown in the trash.
8. Manage a Collection of Business Cards
Over time a buyer or business owner will end up with a collection of business cards. How is a person to manage this collection of business cards? One of the two old ways was to store them in a card box or in a leather cardholder, which is much like a photo holder. In this way they can be kept alphabetically for future use. A newer way is to scan them and keep them on a computer. Any of these methods will work and it depends on the card user, which is best for them. Without a system to keep the cards, finding the information you need is slowed down to shuffling through a stack of cards to locate the one you need. If you are constantly looking up this kind of information, a system to manage your business card collection is a time saver. There may be, but it is hard to replace such a long business tradition. The size and the convenience of use make business cards hard to replace. The business community is use to using them. It is difficult to break established habits of long standing. The computer has replaced many business ideas, but this one will be with us for a while more, maybe forever.
9. Electronic Business Cards
Electronic business cards are the newest form of business card. The card is really a CD with the card information printed on its surface. They can be made in just about any shape as long as they will fit in a CD player. The advantage of this kind of business card is the CD can be played and further information can be made available for the client via his computer. This idea is unique and does generate some interest in the CD. It is a newer way to get your message out to a client. The 200-year plus history of the business card has seen many changes during its lifetime. Its use has grown and is so well accepted now, that most sales people feel naked without their business cards. They are used to introduce people to one another, give and receive information and provide a quick reference for vital details for further contact. Most cards these days not only include the obvious information of name and phone number, but also web information and e-mail contact address. Some cards are simple white stock with black print and some have gorgeous 4-color pictures on them. There are also cards, which fold, and the inside has more information about the company or its products. The CD cards are the newest idea in this business environment. One only wonders what will come next in this traditional business field.
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