In 18th century Europe, the footmen of aristocrats and royalty would deliver visiting cards to the servants of their prospective hosts solemnly introducing the arrival of their owners.
This tradition carried on, eventually evolving into the modern business cards of today. The business card grew to be an important part of a business. It became your calling card, a way for you to leave your information with someone, a way to remind them about your services even when you weren’t around. They were amazing marketing tools and made promoting a business as easy as handing over a card to someone. Businessmen would pass around their cards that listed their business name, what they did and how to get in touch with them.
Effective business cards are creative and memorable
Today, however, while it is still important to have business cards, they’ve more or less been replaced by a much more effective marketing tool — in terms of cost, reach and impact. That tool is the website. A well designed website can do anything a business card can do and it can do it better. Let’s compare the two, shall we?
Business Cards vs Websites
While business cards are great marketing tools, they are sort of limited in terms of how much visibility they get. A business card can be given out in your close circle to friends and family, it can be given out to your extended circle of acquaintances and friends of friends and occasionally makes it into the hands of complete strangers who express an interest in your work. More often than not, though, the business card seldom leaves your locality, almost never going beyond your city or state. The moment you rely solely on a business card, you put a cap on the number of potential clients who could find out about your business, because that card will only travel in a small geographical area around you. A website, on the other hand, has no limitations in terms of how far it can reach. If it has been built right, optimized for search engines and has good design, the website can reach thousands, if not millions of potential customers in the blink of an eye. Websites can grow and spread at an astonishing rate and can cover much more ground than a physical card.
Business cards are dirt cheap, and websites are ridiculously expensive, right? Sure, business cards don’t cost a lot and sure, some websites can be expensive (though most websites that fit the requirements of your business are quite affordable). On average, a good card can cost a little over a rupee (I printed 100 cards for around 180 rupees) and a good website can cost a bit more to setup, with the additional cost of annual payments for hosting.
But we can’t compare the cost to create a website with the cost to create a business card because while their purpose is the same, their methods of promoting your business are extremely different (more about this below). What we can compare is the relation of cost vs increase in sales for business cards and websites. A survey conducted found that, on average, the increase in company sales for every 2000 business cards given away is a meager 2.5%. While there aren’t solid stats on the increase in revenue of a company simply by putting up a website, most companies report a surge in sales on having a professional website up. Several companies have reported outstanding growth of 500% and 1000%, with sales shooting into the stratosphere by simply putting up a well-designed business website.
Business card is sad 🙁
An effective business card needs to be eye-catching and should convey your message in a clear and concise manner. Its the same with a website, the ideal website is clean, loads quick and isn’t too flashy. It displays your message in as effective a way as possible. So the initial effort that goes into setting up your business card or your business website is about the same. However, the effort that then goes into sharing them is different.
A business card is what’s known as an ‘active’ marketing tool. You design one, print it and then have to physically pass it around, introducing yourself and what you do and convincing people to take your card so you can later convince them to give you their money. A website, however, is largely a ‘passive’ marketing tool. If you set it up right, you don’t have to worry about it again. Sure, you have to share the link around but forwarding a link to your contacts and putting it up on your social media doesn’t take more than a few minutes. Also, once that site ranks in Google, anytime someone does a search in your field, they’ll see your site and be directed to your company. The effort that goes into passing around a business card is much greater than the effort that goes into sharing a website.
Business cards are definitely useful. It always helps to leave a potential customer with something to remember you by and exchanging cards has become a bit of a tradition in the business world. However, a website is much more effective as a marketing tool. It needs to be set up only once and then will work 24/7 to promote your business. Websites can generate sales for even brick-and-mortar businesses who feel their companies don’t require an online presence.
This post is also on Medium.com! Check it out here.