Business cards have been around for a long time. Thousands of years, in fact. Throughout that span of time, it is surprising how little they have changed. Perhaps even more surprising is how little they have changed in the last 50 years despite the numerous advancements in printing and design technology. If you look at the vast majority of business cards in circulation (domestically), most are 3.5″ x 2″ with simple text and a logo. If they are daring, you might even find some raised ink. But as a whole, there is a general lack of creativity in the business card world, at least for business cards here in NYC.
Its important to think outside the box. I find this to be the case in my professional and personal life, and I see it all the time in successful companies. This philosophy means to think about what is possible, and not what everyone else does. It means to embrace change and take advantage of the opportunities that arise as a result. Interestingly, the print industry offers one of the best opportunities to exercise this mindset when you consider how much the technology has advanced, and how little people have taken advantage of it.
So what do I mean by “thinking outside the box” exactly? Well, lets say someone owns a pizzeria and wants to differentiate themselves from their numerous competitors. Of course there are many things that they can do, but one important fundamental is creating a buzz. Unique business cards can do just that. A good example would be folding business cards that look like a pizza box. The inside can even have a pizza printed inside them. That would be an example of how a relatively small amount of effort can create a lasting impression in your customers minds. These types of creative cards make people remember you. It makes them want to take a few cards to show their friends, just because of the novelty of them.
Business cards are just one of many ways that you can market yourself. But what makes them special is that people almost have to take them if they’re offered one. Think about how easy it is to give your business card to someone. Imagine asking them instead to take your phone number? They probably wouldn’t do it unless they were really interested. But offer that same person a business card and they will probably take it, even if they are planning on throwing it out in a few minutes. Now imagine that you gave that same person a novel or entertaining business card. Your odds of being remembered increase dramatically. That is what I mean by thinking outside the box.
There is a lot to be said about thinking outside the box. But in short, I think it means to take advantage of what is actually possible, and not what everyone else is doing.