People have been handing out business cards for hundreds of years in order to share their personal details. In the early 17th century the prohibitive cost of primitive printing techniques meant the practice was largely restricted to the nobility of England and France. These calling cards were used to make introductions and the etiquette of giving and receiving cards was strictly adhered to in fear of making a social faux pas.

Today the affordability of business cards means that anybody can hand out their contact information, and in the West at least were a lot more casual about how we hand them out. But the ubiquity of business cards means that many are failing to meet their purpose. In fact, a recent study has shown that in the USA 88% of business cards are disposed of in less than a week.

A matter of need and want

63% of respondents reported that they threw away business cards because they didn’t need the service provided by the card giver, but I suspect this isn’t the real reason people are throwing away business cards. After all, a good business brain will understand that you never know what the future will throw up, so you should keep hold of your contacts, and options. The more probable cause of people throwing away business cards is because they don’t want to do business with the person handing them out (officially, 24% of respondents gave this as their reason).

Why wouldn’t they want to do business with the card giver? Because the cards fail to stand out, look poorly produced, and simply don’t show the giver in a good light, meaning they’re unable to provide the right type of first impression that is sorely needed. Business cards may be cheaper than ever before (how else could 10 billion be printed annually in the US alone?) but this affordability may actually be a curse in disguise, hampering those that aren’t giving the design of the card the time and respect that it needs to have a positive impact.

The colour myth

So how can you produce a business card your contacts will want to hold on to? One piece of research suggests that by simply using colour in your design prospective clients will keep hold of your card for up to 10 times longer. Id be wary of these findings however – the truth is likely to be those that are willing to invest more in the cost of their business cards by using colour printing will also invest more thought and money into the design of their cards. A stylish, well-designed, monochrome business card, will always make a better impression than one that has had colour added for the sake of it and ends up looking garish.

In reality, if you want a really impressive business card you may need to hire the help of a graphic designer. If you cant afford that there are plenty of online guides explaining how to create a simple yet sleek business card. I’m not going to go over those tips again; instead I want to talk about another way to increase the shelf-life of your business card: NFC.

NFC: a digital handshake

A Near Field Communication business card allows it to communicate in a way a traditional card never could by sending data to an NFC enabled phone. For a start, contact details can be added to your clients phone automatically, saving the time and effort of manual input. You can conveniently use your card to launch a map that supplies directions to your office or nearest branch. Even the most basic of applications provides the wow-factor to show your contacts you’re at the cutting edge of technology, immediately making you more attractive to do business with.

Ok, so you’ve got their attention, but however good your first impression is you can guarantee that any potential clients or partners will do further research before considering whether to do business with you. By giving out an NFC card you can direct them to exactly what you want them to see – glowing testimonials and the media reports of awards won that highlight your company as one they should be interested in, rather than anything negative they might find if left to search on their own. For those working in creative or technical industries an NFC business card is a fantastic opportunity to make a soft-pitch, demonstrating your ability in a subtle yet impressive way.

Creating the perfect introduction

Business cards and their predecessors have all ultimately had the same purpose: to make an introduction that will lead to an intended aim, whether that aim is to make advances in high society, to close a sale or to develop a valuable business relationship. The difference between now and then is that with the arrival of NFC business cards the power to create the perfect introduction has never been stronger for those that refuse to be just another statistic.
This post was written by Matt Payne who is the owner of Oomph, a plastic card printer company based in Hampshire. Please visit online for a full range of cards and Catdi printing services including NFC, MIFARE and Contactless Plastic Cards.