Do Online Marketers Need Business Cards?

You’ve probably heard this before. In fact, you may very well have SAID this before: “Oh, I don’t need business cards. I do all my business online.”

That seems like a pretty safe assumption, doesn’t it? After all, one of the advantages of conducting business online is the reduction in conventional paperwork and printing costs. If your prospect is in the United States and you’re in Australia (which is certainly possible over the Internet) the odds are pretty slim that you’re ever going to meet and exchange business cards.

However, like many assumptions, this particular one is worth examining more closely.

Should you, as an online marketer, use business cards? Depends on your answer to these questions:

• Is everybody who might POSSIBLY have an interest in your business currently online?

• If yes, do they know how to find your site?

• Will they be able to find your site six months from now?

• Is your site getting all the traffic you can handle?

• Does everyone you discuss your business with around town have a pen and paper handy so they can write down your website address?

If the answer to ANY of these is “No”, you could use traditional printed business cards very profitably.

Business cards are among the most versatile, affordable, portable, and accepted marketing tools you can use. You meet people all the time  at church, the grocery store, the school function, the tradeshow, and so on. One of the first questions you’re probably asked is “So, what do you do for a living?” You tell the person about your online business, right?

Suppose this acquaintance is really impressed. They want to check out your Internet business. So you eagerly spell out your website URL. That’s great, but … do you think they’ll remember it after the game or after the meeting, when they get back to their computer and actually have a few minutes to go check it out? Sadly, they probably won’t.

And say your product or service intrigues them, but they have no need of it now. Could they find your site again in a few weeks or a few months? Maybe, if they remembered to bookmark your site. No guarantees, though. And they probably won’t bookmark your site anyway if they don’t anticipate the need for your product or service in the near future.
So a business card would sure be a handy way to give that person your URL. And if your URL changes, they might even be able to find you the old-fashioned way (through your postal address or phone number!)

A business card is also a terrific way to generate more interest in your site, simply because there are so many ways to prospect creatively with business cards. You can tuck a card with your URL on it in all your “snail mail” correspondence. You can introduce yourself with your card. You can tuck your card in related books at the library. You can post your card on bulletin boards. And you can hand your card directly to that really hot prospect you just met, with a big sincere smile and a firm handshake.

Finally, like it or not, having a business card “legitimizes” your business in some people’s eyes. It’s concrete evidence that your business is real and that you take it seriously.

So do you, as an online marketer, need business cards? Only if you want more business.