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Business Cards: Is This Still a Thing?

Local business people believe paper business cards are still the best way to network, share contact information

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

John M. Henry, owner of Speedway Press. “[Business cards] complement digital strategies and offer unique benefits that continue to make them relevant in business settings.”

Many businesses have touted “going paperless” for decades, typically referring to how they keep records and communicate with vendors and clients.

But despite email, text, QR codes and other electronic means of sharing information, business cards and other paper-based promotions still matter in many business contexts.

“While digital communication has become prevalent, the physical nature of business cards and promotional items still holds significance in building relationships, reinforcing branding and making lasting impressions,” said John M. Henry, owner of Speedway Press, Mitchell Printing & Mailing Inc. and The Phoenix Press in Oswego. “They complement digital strategies and offer unique benefits that continue to make them relevant in business settings.”

Henry is also a founding board member of the National Print Owners Association. He views business cards as a means to offer a tangible presence unlike digital communication because a physical object is transferred between two parties, making it easier to network and appear professional and credible.

Instead of handing out paper cards, some businesspeople flash a QR card for in-person interactions. The recipient of the information uses a smartphone to scan the QR code and obtain more information such as the website and contact information. Since this information is now on the recipient’s phone, no physical object like a business card must change hands.

Not every potential customer or contact is tech-savvy, so limiting information to a scanned QR code would skip those. That’s one reason that Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham, owner of Women TIES, LLC in Syracuse, still exchanges formal business cards with colleagues and prospects instead of using scannable QR codes for sharing her business information in person.

“I find it suitable for my demographic of women over the age of 55 who might not necessarily know how to use a QR code to find out more about me and my company,” she said. “I assume the younger generation of entrepreneurs might use QR codes because they are more tech-savvy. If I had clients asking me to utilize QR codes, I would consider it, but I don’t.”

Randy L. Zeigler, certified financial planner and private wealth adviser for Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC in Oswego, also uses paper business cards and not scannable QR codes.

“Paper cards are more likely to be retained over many years versus digital versions,” Zeigler said. “I have not encountered anyone who has stopped using paper business cards. I like digital scanning and data storage methods, but paper cards still also have value in retaining contact info for business relationships.”

The tactile quality of receiving a card also makes the interaction seem more personable than a QR scan, which to some people may feel more like a price check at the grocery store than building a relationship with a business contact.

Using paper for flyers and handbills rather than a posted QR code may result in a more lasting interaction with the information. Although printed materials may contain a QR for making accessing information easier, retaining a hardcopy of the basic information may keep it more front-of-mind than scanned information. Will the person who scanned the QR from a display at the tradeshow think about the company again? Or will he close that tab and forget about it. The presence of a physical brochure, card or handbill may generate additional thought as the person sees the object again.