Next Generation Business Cards and the Value of Gifting

Remember these? I’ve had business cards like these going back to my first industry job, oh so long ago. In fact, my dad had cards that looked pretty much the same as this one. Some sources say the first business cards date back to China in the 15th century. I’ve kept examples of most of my cards going back to my first jobs (20th century!) and the only differences are the earliest ones were just a phone number. Then we added a fax number, then an email address. Ultimately, for most of us, the fax number disappeared from our cards. These first-generation business cards have done their time. But with today’s technology, we can now experience next generation business cards which can offer a lot more functionality.

Kevin Payne business card

Do We Still Need Business Cards?

When I started at GiftNow, in December of 2019, it was time for me to order up some new business cards, like the one pictured above. Then, in March of 2020 COVID happened. No more in person meetings. No more conferences, trade shows or events. In short, no need for business cards. There was no one to hand them out to for almost two years.

I went to my first post-COVID event back in September with my never-been-used business cards. I handed them out to whomever asked for one and left a pile of them on our exhibit counter. And, while they still served a purpose in providing some basic information, they didn’t really add any value to promoting or building a relationship. And that’s assuming the card doesn’t get lost or tossed somewhere along the way. (Does anyone use a business card holder anymore?)

Next Generation Business Cards

Several of us at GiftNow thought the business card could use a refresh. What would next generation business cards look like? How could it serve to initiate and build better relationships? What components of the old, stale business card still have value?

But before we get into the answers to those questions, let’s take a step back and consider what’s the ultimate purpose of a business card? It’s meant to initiate a relationship, right? You hand them out to someone you want to start a conversation with and interact with. What other things can you do to build a relationship? Well, if you ask people at a gifting company (like GiftNow), they’ll tell you “give someone a gift that they’ll value and appreciate” so that’s what we did.

We took a basic business card design, keeping the company logo, and person’s name, title and email address on the front and added a QR code on the back. That’s the starting point. Our execs and sales reps would then hand these next generation business cards to people they would meet at conferences, events or sales calls. Along with introducing themselves, they’d invite the recipient to scan the QR code for a gift. That generally gets their attention that this isn’t just a regular business card.

Example of next generation business cards

The real beauty though is what happens when the person scans the QR code. They get the complete GiftNow personalized gifting experience right on their phone. First they get a video greeting from our exec or sales rep, which we could tailor to a particular event or occasion. The greeting would be something like “Hi. This is John Smith at GiftNow. It was great to meet you at the e-commerce conference. I look forward to continuing our conversation. Please enjoy a gift from GiftNow.”

Video associated with business card program

The recipient then views a selection of gifts ranging from digital gift cards to products from a variety of retailers or even your corporate branded swag like a coffee mug or t-shirt (and they can pick the size instead of suffering through the common XL only option). They can pick the gift they want. The digital gift card is sent to their phone or email and a physical gift is shipped to an address of their choosing. 

It’s a nice way to initiate a relationship that stands out and is noticed.

But, as they used to say in the Ginsu Knife commercials, “But wait, there’s more!”

The recipient has the option of sending a thank you note, completing the round of communication and starting a dialogue. We find that a lot of people do take the time to send a thank you to the gifter.

We can also track who’s redeemed their gift and what they redeemed.

The ROI of Next Generation Business Cards

Like traditional business cards, there is a set up and printing fee and each card needs a unique QR code, and many or most printers these days can easily handle that process. Yes, it may cost you a little bit more because each next generation business card is slightly unique. And, there’s the cost of the gift associated with the QR code.

But consider this, from a marketing standpoint, how much would you pay for a lead? $50? $150? From my experience, a marketing generated lead often costs between $100 and $200. With a next generation business card, I could include a selection of $20 (or less) digital gift cards. Add a couple of bucks for printing the next generation business card and this now can become a “lead” for under $25. It can be a cost-effective way to start that business relationship and stand out from your competition.

And, for us at GiftNow, it also means that each next generation business card recipient gets to try out our product and experience all of the personalization features we offer.

And If You’re an Event Manager…

I don’t know how many trade show booths I’ve built and staffed…it must be at least 100. One of the biggest hassles is lugging and storing the inventory of swag to give away at the booth. Maybe it’s coffee mugs or USB sticks (boring) or (even worse) t-shirts, because then you have to deal with size and the risk of the “one size fits no one” catastrophe. (“Do you have any women’s XS?” “Um, no, sorry, how about a men’s XL instead?”) 

Instead, maybe you offer a next generation business card with your personalized video greeting and a $10 digital gift card for coffee or a movie. That’s a lot less stuff to ship back and forth and store and, when you think about it, it’s probably a lot less expensive than those branded coffee mugs or t-shirts. Plus the recipient actually gets something that they likely will value and enjoy (and hopefully think of you when they redeem it).

It’s All About Building Relationships

When it comes to business, it’s all about building relationships. Next generation business cards that incorporate the value of gifting, whether for 1-1 meetings or at conferences and events, can help provide a path towards building new business relationships and help you and your company stand out.

Kevin Payne is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing for GiftNow

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Showing Appreciation and the Great Resignation

Corporate Gifting 101: What it is and How it Works

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