8 alternatives to traditional business cards

Picture this. You’re at a networking event working your magic with an interesting new prospect. She has to leave and you both agree to stay in touch. You try to offer your Twitter handle, but she’s only on Instagram. She tells you to find her on Insta, but you have only three followers (two who share your last name) and realize you might not make the best impression. As a last resort, you reach for your card case only to realize you haven’t carried business cards since the first season of Game of Thrones. Now what?

Even in our digitally evolved culture, business cards are starting to make a comeback in a serious way. They’re a convenient way of succinctly sharing your information with others and inviting them to stay in touch. Business cards showcase your name and title and clearly and easily offer others your preferred ways of being in touch.
If you still love the idea of a card, think calling card, not business card.

  • Post it: If you’re an illustrator or baker or have a visual product, consider a postcard with a favorite bit of art of even a recipe. It’s something they’ll hold onto and is more memorable than a standard card.
  • A dedicated site that’s dedicated to saying “Hi”: If you have a memorable name, you can register a website that literally exists only to share your contact information. You can customize it after every event or by season so that the message is always fresh and relevant.
  • A book or mini portfolio: A photographer I know created teeny tiny flip books with some of his more dynamic images. It wasn’t an inexpensive venture, but it allows others to see his work and invites them to

Still not convinced you need cards? Here are some other options to consider courtesy of the experts at George P. Johnson (GPJ), an experiential marketing agency that’s been around for 104 years.

  • Is there an app for that? Many event hosts create apps specifically for individual events that allow people to message, connect and share ideas on-site and follow up post-event.
  • A handwritten card: Handwritten cards aren’t just for interviewers. They’re personable and will help you stand out, just make sure to include your contact info.
  • Office gift: If you’re great with details, consider sending a small thank you gift to their offices to follow up on a chat, lunch or meeting. Thoughtful counts for more than pricey, so stick to a snack or desk tchotchke.
  • Keep it mobile: Use your iPhone or Android as your Rolodex (a rotating desktop address book — that’s mostly fallen out of favor in the age of the iPhone). Then back up and synchronize to your desktop.
  • A freebie: Create branded gift item that’s both small and functional. Think earbuds or post its or something industry related.

Or, update your card game completely:

If you’re a diehard business card fan but are struggling for inspiration, consider the card evolution of Daniel Feuer, CEO/Founder, of Pranga. Pranga is an interchangeable system of cufflinks doing for men’s wrists what Pandora Jewelry did for charm bracelets and Feuer wanted his cards to reflect his business. Feuer said his first business cards were regular run-of-the-mill variety. “The practical/functional card hadn’t even entered my thoughts.” That changed when he created a card that doubles as an instant pair of cufflinks.

Feuer mentions listening to a podcast about marketing called “Under the Influence” by Terry O’Reilly. He said, “One episode mentioned unique business cards and the lost opportunity they represent.”

In the past, Feuer worked to create various solutions for his products including a custom jewelry box to hold between four to seven pairs of ankers (the decorative part of the cufflink). He also designed a laser cut mailer made from recycled cardboard. He didn’t realize it at the time, but this later inspired his one of a kind memorable and DIY cards. Feuer said that his existing cards had been efficient, but he wanted better: “I wanted to use both sides, it should be practical and most importantly be effective in promoting the brand.”

He succeeded. The cards feature a pop-out pair of cufflinks with instructions. So, how effective are these cards at promoting the Pranga brand? I met Feuer at an event back in May and not only did his card stand out, I remembered every detail of his brand and products. As Feuer puts it, “the cards continue to promote when I’m no longer in the room.”