We all know the feeling of receiving someone’s paper business card - and regardless of whether the person handing it out genuinely provides a great service, in the back of most people’s minds, it’s only a matter of time before that piece of paper ends up in the trash. Professional conduct dictates not to reject a business card when it’s offered, even if we know we won’t bother scanning through them.
It may have served its purpose at a time, but what if you could get 10x the business per transaction without having to hand anything out at all, that's a win for everyone right? Technology, business trends, and even the current global pandemic all have a hand in pinning the final nail on this tired form of advertisement’s coffin, but what will replace them?
Paper is simply no match for digital, and this transition is something that has been going on for quite some time. It’s not hard to see how or why business cards are on their way out, but the challenge seems to be in adopting new behaviors to replace this traditional form of personal advertising.
Social media has been a phenomena that has shaped the business marketing landscape for the last decade or so, and those that continue to use the old method probably have instagram handles or facebook links to direct their prospects to this new digital frontier, but there is so much online to share and not all of it can fit on a small piece of paper. Gen Z may not be familiar, but before the digital age, people had to look through the yellowpages to find information manually about local businesses. Technology has made it so people can access a business’s information through interactive digital media standards like google maps. This, of course, means that businesses and their info are easier to find, but what about small businesses or emerging ecommerce platforms that perhaps don’t have their information tied to these physical locations and lines of organic traffic?
Businesses big and small have the same opportunities through social media to go viral and reach millions of people online, but what about those daily interactions that occur everyday that can also make a huge difference for someone’s business if those leads could be captured? Business cards for some are much more personable, and that’s where social media like LinkedIn and other digital trends fall short, with everything being online. Business cards are too formal for casual networking and exchanging instagram handles isn’t always very professional. Thankfully, new and innovative companies have sprung up with new approaches to incentivize being social and bring technology to the in-person networking space while making it fun and seamless to connect regardless of whether they’re a business or casual contact.
For the same reasons that businesses have made the huge shift to paperless, individuals have moved away from business cards due to their inefficiency. Up to 10 billion are printed yearly with 88% being thrown away within 3-5 days, meaning that up to 88% of opportunities are discarded simply because business cards turn people off.
Right now, you would need to give away over 2,000 of these to see just a 2.5% increase in sales. And that would mean 1,760 would go straight in the garbage can.
Going paperless also saves time, space, money, and digital alternatives offer the added benefit of easier accessibility to information, analytics, and a more unique introduction.
In a time where the global environment is at risk of being tossed out of balance by human activity, it’s paramount that businesses do their part to ensure that their carbon footprint is being monitored and minimized as much as possible. Part of the transition has been going paperless, but more can and should be done. Eliminating paper from the equation is an obvious step forward in the right direction.
Covid Culture Shift
One recent trend that has had the biggest effects on business culture is the recent Covid-19 pandemic and its widespread implications on the global market. Up to 90% of scientists believe that the Covid situation will become endemic and never be fully eradicated, according to a survey of 100 experts conducted by the Nature Journal.
This means that the apprehension of being social might just be here to stay. The problem is that this current pandemic is only exacerbating an already existing problem, and that’s the pandemic of loneliness. Because of Covid limitations, almost everyone’s mental health is at risk of being affected by the long term effects of loneliness. As a result, companies have made huge transitions towards contactless means of keeping their businesses afloat and encouraging people to go out and use their services. You can see this when you go out to eat and use a QR code to view the menu instead of a regular menu, or using contactless delivery options to reduce your interaction with others.
Some companies have even stopped using business cards altogether since it's clear that exchanging information in this way isn’t acceptable in the current climate. The question is not whether these trends will continue beyond the pandemic, but rather how businesses will further implement contactless solutions to protect their customers. Contactless is the future and companies had better get accustomed to this new industry standard and adapt fast.
High Speed Gig Economy
Even before COVID, research has shown that millennials are not conforming to the same career trends as their parents or grandparents. Instead of working in one place and enjoying the benefits of long term employment, millennials have different priorities and expectations in regards to their work/life balance and personal choices. Today, Millennials and Gen Z have been presented with new opportunities due to companies like Uber and AirBnB creating a high speed gig economy that allows individuals more freedom to work at their own convenience or another option to help them pay their bills every month. This demographic wants to feel like what they are doing matters, and are less inclined to wait around for their company to evolve or for a new role to be given to them.
Because they are infamous “job-hoppers”, companies and businesses are finding themselves struggling to hold onto their millennial and gen z employees and are challenging themselves to create more enticing environments that are more tailored to their needs to have a more purposeful impact, a more healthy work/life balance, and greater personal choices in line with their lifestyles, side hustles, and living situations.
Business cards simply don’t reflect today’s transient nature of employment as the card you receive today could lead to a dead email or phone number tomorrow as employees are moving in and out of the workspace in droves. The next iteration of business cards has to be something all encompassing that takes all of these trends into consideration and meets these needs effortlessly.
Blue Social is a social network and app that is betting on their technology to replace traditional business interactions with their new digital and NFC alternatives. Blue takes advantage of Bluetooth to connect devices within proximity, so you can find friends in the same room instead of just connecting online with someone miles away. The user can also utilize the Blue Smart card, an innovative tool that allows them to send all of their social media and contact information to anyone with a smartphone instantly with a tap. One card, not tons every month.
It combines the tangibility and behaviors that business people are already used to with the advantage being that the receiver gets all the information at once, directly into their phone. Users can alternatively go without the physical products by using the app’s QR codes, which iPhone users can save directly to their Apple Wallets for easier accessibility and a truly 21st century digital experience.
Not only that, but users can also plug into the Blue app’s analytics to gain insights on previous interactions and gather data about profile visits, link taps, saved contacts, locations, and more! Users subscribed to their Blue Pro service have even more features at their disposal, including the ability to switch between business and social profiles, they can download their interactions into a csv file, or automate workflows with Zapier and over 3000+ CRMS to automatically send follow up emails, update worksheets everytime a new interaction occurs, or update teammates on sales analytics - all without having to lift a finger after you and your team initially set it up.
What truly separates Blue however from other alternatives to traditional business cards is the company’s focus on using their tech to move people away from negative social behaviors online by encouraging face-to-face interactions that ultimately have positive effects on one’s mental health, wellbeing, and communication skills. The old schoolers know why networking matters, but it’s got to be efficient. Why waste money to possibly have thousands of paper business cards thrown away when you can simply download an app to do better business and maybe even make some friends along the way?