Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance. — Ban Ki-moon
Yay! Congratulations! You have designed your website, and created your online assets, on Social media, and now it’s time to bring in the graphics designer to design that business card that will minimalistically express your brand promise, or state to that potential client your Unique Buying Reason. Or, perhaps, you just landed that job you scaled 10 rigorous interviews for, and now it’s time to get your pack of business cards. After all, how important is your organization if the persons in key roles don’t have business cards?
As true as the last sentence above is, I believe it’s a relic of the 17th century, and not true in the 21st century, especially in 2020. What do I mean? You ask. And, who am I to question global business practices on the business cards, when there are books and countless online articles on the etiquette of business cards.
Well, my answer to the questions above is summarized in ‘I’m aware of the SDGs, especially its Number 13, which is centered on Climate Change’. How does this relate to business cards, are they not paper, and isn’t paper recyclable?
My answer to that is it depends. It depends, because if recycling business cards or the paper is easy, does that mean it’s an effective and efficient use of scarce business resources? Okay, enough soliloquizing, let’s explore the history and some facts about business cards, by asking Google.
Succinct History of Business Cards
It became prominent in the 17th century in Europe but as history has it that the Chinese pioneered its precursor. While in Europe, it started in the form of a visitor’s card, which was used to inform others of the arrival of successful aristocrats in the 17th century. By the 19th century, it was essential for everyone in the middle class. Visitors had to place their cards in card trays, which was an etiquette, these cards were then taken to the host, to make the first impression of her guest.
While in the UK and US, in the 18th and 19th century it was used for in trade, which was exchanged before or after a trade. It became ubiquitous during the industrial revolution, as the exchange of contact information became essential, where the trade and visiting card was then merged.
See, it can be concluded that in centuries past, the business cards came into practice as a status symbol; just as owning the latest iPhone model is in our era. But, in a flat world and global economy, where we have platforms that already have our contact details, is it effective to have our contact details printed on a piece of paper, for an ego massage?
Succinct Facts about business Cards
With over 30 million businesses worldwide, over 40 million business cards are printed daily, which means over 10 billion business cards are printed annually. And, over 9 billion business cards are disposed weekly. The reason why so many business cards are thrown away is that, in our era, we live in the moment, thus after, getting the contact details, the business cards have reached the end of their purpose.
The most expensive business card cost over $1,200, because it’s studded with 30 carats diamonds. While the average cost of a business card is over $150, and the average hourly rate of a graphics designer charges for a business card is over $50.
Well, with a company with an OPEX of over $500,00, the additional cost of printing business cards for a new hire, is insignificant, but does the insignificance justify the waste?
Okay, Fisayo, what solution will you proffer? Even if your above facts, mildly suggest that we deny graphic designers the income from designing business cards.
I’m delighted you asked that. Because far from me to ever point out a problem without a proffering a solution. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to design a step by step guide of not more than 8 steps to achieve the objectives of creating a business card, via a built-in functionality.
But, before then, let me make clear that I believe the main objective of a business card is to connect with a potential client, either in a networking event or chance encounter. And, the connection is not measured by quantity game but rather by quality; where you will agree with me that everything of quality requires time.
Every business card graphic designer hopes to come up with a design that engages the receiver of the card. I encountered this problem in 2013 when Edward and I founded Le Relief Enterprise — your solution paradise. We aimed at creating the most engaging business card, and below was what we came up with, with our awareness then:
Did it work? Well, each time I handed the card to potential clients, I was quickly informed it was printed wrongly, where I was quick to respond, “I’m glad you noticed, it wasn’t by accident, but by design” We needed you to engage with it not just shelve it in your pocket, after a glance.
LinkedIn QR 7 Step Guide
Step 1: Open your LinkedIn profile and select the 4 squared icons on the right side of the search field.
Step 2: Select the My code option to find your QR Code or scan or another person’s code.
Step 3: You have to options to share your code or save it to photos
Step 4: Select how best you want to save it in your photos, with your photo or without; I prefer my photo.
Step 5: Wait till you get the successfully saved to photos message.
Step 6: Go to your photos and mark as favorites for easy access.
Step 7: If you followed the steps, you should see it in the favorites folder.
Make no error I’m not that idealist who does not understand the consequences of his proposal. I understand the risk involved in attempting to go against a 400-year-old business etiquette, that is meant to tell potential clients and partners that you are well prepared and not cheap. But I’ve reaped and I’m reaping the benefits of Tina Seelig’s ted talk, on taking social risks. The image below shows, it’s been over 2 years of me getting comfortable taking these social risks.
Also, I’ve found out in the business world the best connections when networking is experienced, when the other party takes your phone, and type in their LinkedIn or Instagram details. In a world where everyone blames technology for minimizing human interaction, I challenge business leaders to take the extra minutes to adopt connecting in that world, even though the LinkedIn QR code functionality.
If you ask what if I’m in a rush and I don’t have the extra minute, or perhaps, I’m not tech-savvy like you, millennials? I’ll ask you back, “Who says I’ve all the answers to every scenario? But, I’ll be delighted to come up with a solution for every scenario with you.
Or, perhaps, you say not all staff in your firm adds their title to their LinkedIn profile, will the LinkedIn process still work?
Truth be told, between 2018 and 2019, I had sleepless nights, to come up with a solution, to motivate the staff of the firm to acknowledge the firm on their social media handles. With my present awareness, I believe that should have been solved in the hiring process. After all, if your staff can’t acknowledge your firm on their social media handles, what are they indirectly telling you?
But here is what I learned from Ahmed Larouz, a business leader, whom I met in Omek’s official launch, he gave me his number, asked we take a selfie together, and said I should send him a text with the selfie, to remind him of how and where we met.
Also, if you say you are not tech-savvy like we millennials, let me remind you of the quote:
Evolve or Die! — Ray Dalio
Please don’t die but Evolve!
Guys — business leaders and white-collar lovers, Greta Thunberg is giving world leaders a run for their titles and perks, let’s not give her a reason to turn her attention to our business cards.
Finally, I’m aware that until COVID-19 pandemic is history, the advice I propose in this article can not be and should not be taken, because it requires close human contact, without fear of contracting the virus.
Like always, I remain radically open-minded to your comments and perspective, to any flaws in my proposition.
By the way, in my last article, Climate Change vs SDGs awareness, I left a link for you to test your Climate Change and SDGs awareness, here’s the direct link to the form. I’ll appreciate your input in the form. Thanks in advance.