Giving printed business cards the digital touch

September 27, 2013 by  

Business cards have long been mandatory in the professional world. When a business owner meets a fellow entrepreneur, they rarely forget to exchange business cards. When a business owner speaks with a potential customer, he would be lax not to hand over his business card. It’s beneficial to leave business cards in high-traffic areas as a method of passive advertising, or to display them at local community boards to gain exposure.

A brief bit of history

Business cards have been in human society since the 15th century, when they were known as “visiting” cards in China. They steadily progressed through the centuries and, barely 100 years ago, became what we know as a business card today. Though business cards as we know them have a classic appeal that many potential customers find charming, adding a digital touch won’t hurt. In fact, digital integration can boost the appeal of business cards on multiple levels. Interactivity, an inspiration of awe, and familiar themes serve only to interest potential customers further.

Considerations

When considering the digital touch to add to business cards, a business owner must understand his or her customer base. A business must ask itself if potential and existing customers would appreciate a minimalist digital touch or a complete digital overhaul. They might want something that doesn’t stand out too much but still creates a modern feel or a makeover to make the business cards speak to today’s generation.

Regardless of the decision, don’t overdo it or use too many digital “gadgets” on the cards. At the end of the day, business cards need to be easy to understand, simple, and direct. Basic contact information, the business’ name and logo, with a brief explanation of what it does is the general information. Ensure these don’t get lost in the clutter of digital touches and the overhaul is more likely to be a success.

QR Codes

A QR code, short for quick response code, is a type of barcode read by smartphones and other machines. The QR code is easily recognized in modern society as a smartphone-friendly sign. Tech-savvy potential customers will quickly be drawn to it, if for no other reason than to scan it out of curiosity. Upon reading the QR code, the phone is directed to a link connected to the barcode. This means that, when placed on a business card, the potential customer can transport himself directly to a webpage of the business owner’s choosing.

How to Use QR Codes

The possibilities with QR codes on business cards are endless. A simple destination is the business’ homepage. This transforms the business card into a wealth of information. The card serves as a tangible reminder of the company, a simple way of tracking contact information, and a portal to every bit of knowledge on the business’ website. Alternately, a business seeking to improve its web visibility could direct customers through the portal to its social networking page.

For sales-oriented businesses, the QR code could take potential customers to a coupon page with a code for a small discount. This prompts the potential customer to make a purchase soon, before the coupon expires. If the coupon is for an in-store purchase, it increases the business’ footfall. If it is for an online purchase, the business card will benefit the web traffic. Either one is a positive impact on the business.

Another QR code option is directing customers to a welcome video or animation. Such offerings create a more personal and innovative feel. The video or animation should epitomize the business in a way that makes the potential customer feel instantly familiar and intrigued.

Transparency

When business cards come to mind, most think of small, rectangular sheets of cardboard, generally with bright ink adorning every inch of the surface. Or a plain white piece of cardboard with minimal text. What they don’t think of is a transparent card, through which the potential customer’s fingers are visible.

Transparent business cards are not the norm and thus make customers think of the digital, the high-tech, and the new and innovative. This impression sounds minimal, but a transparent business card stands out from the pile of other cards. It sticks in the customer’s mind. When searching for a new product or service, the potential customer is more likely to think of the business with the sci-fi business card.

For a fun touch on transparency, a lighter color of text with a description or catchphrase can make a lasting impression on potential customers. The reason? With a transparent business card and light text, the potential customer must hold the card up to light to read it easily.

Web themes

To connect business cards to the online world by creating the digital touch, a business need only use the power of suggestion. For example, theming the business card in the image of the business’ most popular social media website with its web address in the upper area of the card, like a URL bar. Alternately, if the business is confident enough in its search engine optimization, it can direct the customer to do an online search for a key phrase. This projects a self-assured air to the customer, creating trust after they type in the key phrase, and finds the business easily as well.

Another way to take advantage of the web theme is to mimic the business’ website. This benefits the business by reinforcing brand identity. If the customer sees the same color scheme, same font, and same layout from business card to website, they will probably feel familiar with the company. The similarities can even go so far as to match the business card’s appearance to the website’s ‘contact us’ page.

Graphics

For the business that wants to appear sharp, or to add in one more digital touch without overdoing it, graphics are a simple option. Instead of no photo at all, or a photo of something tangible, an interesting digital design will make a modern impression. The image itself must be carefully selected by the business to represent its name well. Placing it in the corner and making it small and unobtrusive will add a fun touch. Alternately, the chosen image can have light opacity in the background with text printed over it. This is particularly impactful on an already-transparent business card.

The best option for a digital graphic is something the customer will never have seen before. If the business has a customary, dated logo, an artist or designer can give it a face lift. The possibilities are limitless.

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