Will Covid-19 kill the business card?

So many people have taken to working from home in the Coronavirus pandemic, driven by necessity mostly but this could soon become something of a new design.
Modern technology has allowed people to keep working using home electronics, remote access and meeting facilities like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout and many other collaborative platforms. Now, a recent news story has hinted that working together in a shared office space may be a thing of the past and that Coronavirus has sounded the death knell for the modern office environment as we now know it.
There are so many advantages to working from home:-
• No commute so that saves times, sometimes lots of time as well as lowers stress levels
• No travel costs, a really significant factor for many people
• Zero carbon emissions – no car, bus or train
• Flexibility around family commitments
• More hours in the day due to the absence of travelling so more family time
Many respected industry leaders are already embracing Covid-19 as the push they needed to consider basing most or all of their workforce at home. For commercial organisations, the money saved in terms of providing premises makes it a no-brainer. With lockdown still partially in place and with some form of social distancing likely to remain the norm for a long time to come, it is just easier to leave people where they are.
Organisations who may never have taken that intrepid first step and perhaps only have a small portion of their staff at home have been forced into a sea change because of the global pandemic. Now their hand has been forced, they have realised that it is possible, it is do-able and their product hasn’t actually suffered at all as a result of it.
If Covid-19 spells the death knell for the office then will this also impact on conferences and conventions and international meetings? Possibly not. As people will see each other far less frequently then large gatherings may become even more important, to bring staff members together from time to time. And the requirement to engage with clients will remain.
As we all know, conversing and interacting with someone via a screen is not the same as face to face; technology is a wonderful thing and has totally saved some people from isolation and from losing their jobs in the current crisis. But it is not the same as the real thing. Face to face contact will become rarer but when it does happen, there will be a premium and cachet attached to it. Conferences and meetings will become the exception rather than the rule but their importance – the crucial element of engaging one person with another – will be showcased by their scarcity.
So, before you throw away your business cards, train season ticket or bus pass, hang onto those business cards. Yes, there is email marketing but many industry experts believer that the card that you can touch and feel is still the most effective direct marketing tool around. It seems to be the one thing that technology hasn’t been able to replace and that is because of the human engagement, the innate element of exchanging cards in the same way that Zoom or Skype will never quite match – having that person sitting directly in front of you. The card is like a business hug, a touch on the arm, it is all about the physical not the digital.
With less human engagement in the office community going forward, personal encounters are going to be even more valuable when they happen, not less. Intimate, engaging and detailed conversations will become a rarity, a lost but cherished art. The memory of a face to face meeting is going to be thrown into sharp relief signed sealed and delivered by the ritual handing over of that little piece of card.
Business cards help you to remember that person, in person, and the whole value of the human encounter is going to be elevated particularly if the majority of people’s interaction becomes largely digital. Business cards still do create a memorable first impression – it’s not about the card per se although a great design with good branding will certainly cement that first impression. It’s about the person handing over the card at the end of a meeting or conversation – that is what people remember providing that it is memorable, of course.
Business cards also demonstrate by their very existence, a care and professionalism which is somehow sadly lacking if you walk away from that great encounter with just a friendly handshake or a nod of the head but no card. A business card is a tangible memory of you. There is, of course, some degree of responsibility to get the design right and to create something worthy of you and what you stand for. There is nothing worse than being handed a poor quality or ill-conceived business card which actually shouts out that the giver can’t be bothered and cares even less.
So don’t get carried away with the wonders of digital marketing; that carefully crafted direct marketing email that you spent days on could still be consigned to the trash can at the flick of a button – you can’t even guarantee the recipient is going to read it – compare that to pressing your business card into someone’s hand after a particularly successful meeting or engagement? Business cards are fast, easy, discrete, compact, clever and a huge branding opportunity if you want them to be one. Any expert will tell you that the very hottest and best business lead is the one you personally speak to and present with your card – all the digital marketing in the world cannot compete with that. So, the office as we know it might be dead, sacrificed on the altar of the Coronavirus but think twice before you ditch your business cards. The world will ultimately go back to face to face and now it is going to mean even more than it did before.


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