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.

QR code 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 ( 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:


frugal book promoter cover

Business Cards for the Age of Tech and You

6 thoughts on “Business Cards for the Age of Tech and You

  • April 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Reno, glad you thought of this. Sometimes we forget that marketing is marketing is marketing. We can learn so much by watching what other industries are doing–and not doing! (-:

    Love your business cards!


  • April 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    The best idea for business cards that I’ve heard recently came from, I believe, Phyllis Zimbler Miller….It was something like be sure to put a web site address that links to your book (or other product’s) sale page. Then, the next time you see someone reading a book or, even better, a book on an eReader,you can just walk over and say something like, “If you enjoy reading, you might enjoy my book.”

  • April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Marketing is such an important part of growing anything, blogs included. Having an online business card or scan opportunity is important. However, I am still asked for my (paper) business card more often the not. The cost in minimal for both so why not have both for what ever need arises. No matter the form of the impression, it is till an impression and they all add up. :-), Susan Cooper

  • May 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Business cards just add a little something to the conversation. Just as in Asia, where you are likely to be presented with a business card in two hands, The passing of a business card is a part of the conversation, and partly a way to remember the person and any discussion. If needed, you can even write a little note on a card, to help you remember.

    Even after your smartphone has expired and lost all your data, you still have that business card somewhere.

    The only downside is, you can’t search for it by typing on a keyboard.

  • June 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I agree that business cards are still relevant and have value and I don’t believe they will be going away any time soon. It’s similar to the debate over print vs. online information of any kind. I continue to believe that electronic communication is another option – and a great option – but not a replacement for most traditional media. Consider live theater which was long ago augmented (not replaced) by movies, then television. But live theater still enjoys a following. In fact, I just bought tickets to a Guthrie performance for my husband and I and our 27-year-old son who, despite being a member of GenY does enjoy live performances.

  • October 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Business cards will be relevant until they invent a perpetual power source/battery for mobile and digital devices. The problem here, I think, is that each commenter, including me, is over 40

    The younger set really is devaluing “low-tech” things like hard copies and bus. cards -in a big way. But I know my daughter and her friends, for instance, are absolute slaves to their smart phone chargers. I liken business card use the way my 13-yr-old son likens wired-in gaming to wireless: there’s simply more disruptive risk variables involved in wireless controllers while gaming. On the other hand; Hard-wired controllers are more reliable.

    Same principles apply to business cards: they will far outlast any smartphone battery or hard drive -esp. when printed on good quality stock! The millennials and Gen-Yers will soon realize their value too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Switch to our mobile site