By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
The LA Times just headed an article “Business cards get filed under obsolete.” I’m hoping none of my author friends read it, but just in case, here is my rant. They said that young people especially think that now we have e-mail (and, yes, I presume e-mail signatures!) business cards are redundant.
I remember back in the 70s (hippie days, remember?) when my husband and I opened our retail shops. We thought business cards were too, well—hoity toity. We were wrong then and whoever these “young people” are—well, they’re wrong now.
Yes, more business is being done by e-mail. And yes we do have e-mail signatures (though most business correspondence I see doesn’t do a good job with branding or information in their signatures. In fact they don’t do as well as most business cards I see!).
Yes, people can easily punch details into their iPhones when they want to keep information. But business cards can be (should be as far as I’m concerned!) more than a way to exchange phone numbers. They should be mini advertisements. That phone number in someone’s iPhone will not sell a book, but a business card with your book cover, a blurb, and maybe even a little award logo on it sure can. And it can do it more than once. It can remind people of you now and every time they run across that card in the future.
I am so convinced, I’ve included a little section on designing effective business cards and ideas for how to use them in The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo). Here’s but one quick example. I’ll be speaking at the Book Publicists of Southern California meeting on April 11. (By the way, there is a list of my appearances–most of them free–in my newsletter. Anyone who would like to sign up need only send me an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line and I’ll do it for them.)
There are usually 50 to 100 people at these meetings. What a shame if I let that kind of opportunity pass by just speaking and then saying “See you all later.” Of course! Business cards! They will appear magically near each attendee’s dinner plate. And yes, they have my book cover, an endorsement from Dan Poynter, and a USA Book News award-winner logo on them. And essential ordering information, of course.
I use business cards when I travel, too. They are crucial for those doing business in China, as an example, and yes people there still respect them enough to present them with both hands. People who think everyone lives and breathes by their smartphones are just as out of touch as those who ignore them in their marketing plans. Business cards are complementary to apps and other digital marketing, not an anachronism.
Some of you may remember when everyone thought that TV would make radio obsolete. It didn’t. Radio just evolved. So will business cards. And in the meantime, I hope you won’t let the opportunities they offer pass you by.
~Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning poet, writer of fiction and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of book including one series for business people: www.howtodoitfrugally.com/retailers_books.htm.