Why aren’t business cards obsolete?

Business cards must be one of the last bastions of the stationery empire.

Business cards must be one of the last bastions of the stationery empire.

alex walls idealog business cards obsolete​At a conference about conferences recently (a less blockbuster version of Inception), the good ol’ squares of cardboard were still making the rounds, despite the near ubiquitous nature of smartphones.

Due to a technical hiccup, I was handing out the business cards of one ‘Matt Lennon’, which was confusing for everyone involved but a lot of fun imagining reasons for - a really serious witness protection programme, John Lennon’s lesser known child, named as a commentary on gender roles  - while explaining that my name was not, in fact, Matt.

I may as well have told people that I was a runaway Russian duchess posing as a cross-dressing poker teacher for cats, because I received two emails the next week which ran thusly ‘Dear Matt, So nice to meet you at the conference…’  Despite my (very restrained) explanation, people had read the business card and decided it knew best.

But why are they still so popular? There is a proliferation of technology, apps and software for electronic business cards – why haven’t they taken off?  They’re cheap, fast and easy to use, but apparently not any cheaper, faster and easier than handing over a slice of cardboard, which will almost certainly be used as a toothpick at some point in the evening.

Maybe we haven’t reached the tipping point where the number of people using the new technology has overcome the inertia of people unwilling to change.  Maybe the current majority of smartphones just don’t have the tech, like NFC.  And granted, some companies are making pretty nifty cards these days, like little rectangles of luxury.

But someday, I’m pretty sure we’ll all be smacking phones together instead of swapping squares of dead tree.  And you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be carrying the e-card that reads ‘Bottomley Potts, Esq’.

Get posts like this and more emailed to you - sign up to our newsletters for inspiration, advice and the latest success stories straight to your inbox every week.