Promotional Business Cards – Past, Present and Future?

4-color process business card promotional magnetThe business card. An item only 3 ½ x 2 inches in size yet so ubiquitous that they are tossed around as if this ubiquitous-ness were synonymous with insignificance.

That is, in the US at least. In other parts of the world the business card has more significant meaning than simply a convenient way to provide one’s personal contact information and also include several rules of exchange etiquette. Did you know, for example, that in China business cards are supposed to be held in both hands when offering them and should be appropriately translated into the Chinese dialect of the area in which you are traveling. In India, one should only use the right hand when both giving and receiving business cards, and in Japan cards are to be treated as you would treat the person – carefully placed in a case or portfolio upon receiving them as opposed to stuffed inside one’s pocket.

Business cards actually have a more refined history that dates as far back as the 15th century in China, though at this time they were termed, ‘visiting cards.’ These cards garnered more popularity by the 17th century in Europe where footmen of royalty and the aristocracy would present such cards at one’s home to announce the impending arrival of a distinguished guest. And of course, as was expected of all other things associated with the upper echelon of the day, these cards were adorned with elegant coats of arms and decorations. In England around the same time, what were called ‘trade cards’ were used a rudimentary form of a current GPS system. There was no formal numbering system for streets in London then, so these trade cards served as both advertisements for a company that included maps and directions on how to reach their place of business.

But back to the present day. I know we’ve discussed the appeal of fun meeting function in terms of promotional products, but the following may be a truly useless application of fun: the penny-shooting business card. I discovered this product through a lovely post by Diana Adams on but do not quite share her same enthusiasm. It reminds me of the uselessness I associate with the marshmallow shooting guns I always see in airplanes’ Skymall Magazines.

Then again, maybe the purpose of business cards is beginning to revert back to its original intentions – as a social formality representing a person, not a business. I shudder slightly, however, when I imagine the day that upon meeting someone new at a bar on the weekend our conversation may end with an exchange of cards that state our name, our Twitter @name, our Facebook username, and maybe even our Google me search name.

For now, I’d suggest opting for a more traditional business card promotional magnets instead.

Team Lead – Multimedia

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