business cardPrinted business cards aren’t disappearing any time soon, even in today’s digitally driven world. For years, optimistic tech geeks have been forewarning the impending death of paper business cards as digital methods of exchanging contact information have become more prevalent. A quick search on Google returns hundreds of articles that support this idea. However, in just about every single one, even the most enthusiastic supporter of doing away with traditional business cards admit that the printed version will always have a place and purpose in business.

Here are just a few reasons why printed business cards have a lot of life left in them:

“…the business card has a logistical advantage: universal ease of exchange. Swapping information mid-conversation or in a noisy crowd can be more cumbersome than pressing paper to palm. And not everyone owns a smartphone, or has the same applications for sharing.” — NY Times, Business Cards Go Paperless, or Almost

“…exchanging paper cards physically has become a too important part of introducing oneself, being the first thing business people do when they meet. It is both an icebreaker and a show of respect [in some cultures].” — ZDNet Asia, Virtual Biz Cards Won’t Dethrone Paper Ones

“The paper, logo, design, and readability give me clues to a company’s personality and whether they have thought about that first impression… [they] give me data about their permanence and their business sense.” — Steigman Communications, Are Business Cards Obsolete?

How can you optimize business card designs so they compliment today’s digital marketing landscape?

Include links to appropriate social media profiles.

Think about your business as well as the business card recipient and include links to the social media profiles that make sense. For example, if you are a lawn care provider that uses business cards to connect with potential clients, you may want to include links to your Yelp business profile, Google Places page, and Facebook. Those prospects can learn more about your business from user reviews posted on those sites.

On the flip side, if you are a fertilizer distributor that only exchanges cards with lawn care franchise owners or store managers, LinkedIn would likely be the most appropriate social media profile to include on your business card. By connecting with your B2B contacts on LinkedIn, you could strengthen existing relationships while discovering new business opportunities.

Use a QR code to link to more information online.

QR codes are a great way to bridge the offline and online gap. Used wisely, QR codes can turn traditional business cards into an interactive experience. Linking to a video, infographic, recent press releases and news, or a resource library could help jog a business card recipient’s memory about your company. You can also link to a virtual business card that automatically enters the information on the card into the recipient’s contact list stored on their smart phone.

Use a font type/size that can be easily read by card scanners.

Many professionals are now using smart phone card scanner apps to capture, store, and manage the contact information they collect from business cards. They simply take a picture of a business card with their smart phone’s camera. The business card scanner applications use optical character recognition to convert the image into text, making organization of the data a snap. Business cards with simple font types are better recognized by these applications and the content becomes easier to ‘translate’ to text. If you use an ornate font style, it may be difficult for the business card scanner apps to convert what you see on the printed business card to a digital format.