3 Reasons Why Business Cards, Brochures and Signage Still Matter

It feels like everything is digital these days, but don't overlook the power of physically handing someone a card or a brochure.

3 Reasons Why Business Cards, Brochures and Signage Still Matter

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Years ago, as computer and Internet use expanded exponentially, experts foretold the demise and extinction of paper. And while some portions of some of our modern society have indeed gone paperless, it seems the strong and consistent push into digital has actually in some ways underscored the importance and usefulness of paper. This has been borne out in marketing, too. In fact, the hyperspeed era of digital marketing we live in — where everything seems to be online or at least moving that way — actually makes a case for paper or other non-digital marketing efforts. So while you rightly update your business website, smartly push marketing communications out via social media and thoughtfully create content for your customers to read on their mobile devices, don’t forget the paper versions of your marketing. In other words, tools such as business cards, brochures and signage still matter. Here’s are a few reasons why.

1. At Times, There’s Too Much Digital Communication

We hear a lot about “screen time” and the need to get away, “unplug” or even go “off the grid” (and sometimes people mean it literally). That’s not just “I need a vacation” talk anymore. It reflects the reality of a culture that at times gets tired of all the digital inputs, as good and as helpful as they may be to business and other areas of life. And while your business rightly needs to have a digital presence, there’s a place for your business to have a physical presence — not necessarily a literal physical storefront, but a way to communicate non-digitally or, better, more personally.

Business cards, brochures and signage are just three examples that demonstrate the value of non-digital communications. While these of course can exist in some form digitally, it’s more likely they take physical form and, as such, require readers to consume them in a way different from how they consume digital media. A business card can reside in a shirt pocket, sit on a desk near a phone, or be affixed to the edge of a monitor screen. Ultimately, it might be scanned and discarded, but it had a moment of use that achieved a certain goal. Same for the brochure. While the classic tri-fold brochure may be out of vogue, the one-pager or one-sheet has remained. As for signage, even if customers make their way to your physical storefront using a map app on their smartphone, they’re still watching for external, visible signage to let them know for sure they’ve arrived. And once inside your store, the role of signage continues to show its worth, welcoming and directing customers to where they need to go.

As for digital vs. non-digital, it’s not either/or but both/and. Each should complement the other. ”

Business cards, brochures and signage still have a place in your marketing communications mix; they’re not just leftovers from an old-school era. In fact, in a digitally saturated age where everything’s constantly changing, they can provide your customers with a bit of relief, a moment of static calm where they can take in a message and process it as quickly or as slowly as they want to. Business cards and brochures may offer a place for a customer to jot down some notes, too. And since these marketing tools bear your name or the name of your business and all the relevant contact info, they make it easy for a reader to know exactly what to do to get a hold of you.

As for digital vs. non-digital, it’s not either/or but both/and. Each should complement the other. Business cards, brochures and signage should point to websites, social media and other online channels. Websites, social media and other online channels should offer an easy way to contact your business and download and/or print a one-pager.

2. Usually, a Direct Connection to People Is Required to Distribute and Consume Non-Digital Communications

Sure, business cards and brochures and signage may be posted in various places throughout a physical location such as a store, but the business cards and brochures may also be physically handed out by a person to another person. Don’t miss the importance of this personal connection. The exchange that occurs throughout a customer interaction can be helpfully memorialized by the passing of a business card or a brochure from employee to customer. Think of the people-centric nature of giving these out: “Here, take this printed piece of information and use it to your benefit.” “I’m giving you a tool to help you remember our conversation.” “You’re important to me, so I’m going to provide you with something that I hope will help you remember me later.”

Some of this, of course, can occur digitally. And does. And should. But the digital communication tends to be fleeting. A non-digital communication may have more impact and staying power.

Signage is a bit different from business cards and brochures, of course. But the idea behind good signage is that you as the business owner or manager not only took the time to think about a customer’s experience in your store or facility but also erected messages to help them get around. This helped them feel comfortable and cared for, which likely would contribute to a positive experience.

It’s often cliched, but it’s true: No matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business.

3. After All the Digital Growth in Business, the Non-Digital, Simple and Tangible Things Are Still Around

Despite the presence of a bazillion websites and an equal number of other digital communication channels, business cards, brochures and signage are still around. There’s got to be a reason for it beyond the fact that sometimes we just don’t let go of past practices too easily.

One reason may be because these non-digital communication tools provide a place for personal investment. Not the financial kind of investment, although there certainly is a cost involved in producing them. Rather, the personal investment is the time and effort it took to capture all the pertinent information contained therein, along with the hope that it provides actual help to the reader. It’s something produced to help him or her be informed and able to act. And this, despite our digitally saturated culture.

Regardless of what you think about trade shows and their efficacy as a sales/marketing tool, they’re still around — at least before the COVID-19 matter — for a reason...”

Consider what else is still around: trade shows, business trips and meals, one-on-one meetings, and many more examples underscoring the important of interpersonal exchanges when doing business. In many of these exchanges, you’ll find business cards and brochures being offered and traded.

Sure, some of these things have taken a digital turn — from giving a presentation on a tablet to using a scanning tool or app or scanning another person’s trade show badge — but the paper counterparts are still around and eve quite prevalent.

Trade shows are especially noteworthy here. Regardless of what you think about trade shows and their efficacy as a sales/marketing tool, they’re still around — at least before the COVID-19 matter — for a reason: a simple and tangible way to foster interaction among businesses and their constituents is to put them all in the same room. A trade show venue may provide an organized floor map and a program listing all the exhibitors, but you don’t benefit from the trade show unless you’re there. Even if you’re there with a floor plan and a program in hand, you’ll realize in an instant the importance of business cards, brochures and signage. And, naturally, those items will point you to the importance of person-to-person interactions.

A brief word of warning: It’s too easy to favor one side or another of the digital and non-digital tools available to us as business owners and managers. One may be more familiar. One may be more aligned with the skill set of someone in the business. One may seem to work better at one point or another. In any case, both are necessary and deserve the right amount of attention. And the trend toward doing more digitally brings with it a need to make sure we give just as much attention to the non-digital.


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