Business Article

Business Cards - Still Needed in Today’s  By Mark V. Matz
Techno World? Collection Industry Consultant

With changes in communication shifting from phone calls to texting or emails to social networking, is the printed business card still relevant in today’s business world?  The short answer is yes!  Let me explain some of the reasons why after a little background on the development and use of printed cards along with a perspective by a businessman who has run his business providing cards worldwide successfully since 1989.  

There are a couple of stories about the origin of cards.  One of these dates their origination back to China in the 15th century.  “Visiting Cards” were first used in Europe during the 17th century (initially by writing names, notes and I.O.U.’s on old playing cards).  As time moved on, these cards become more fashionable and were printed (often engraved) with the names and titles of the people presenting them.  This type of card was used as an early (very much a pre-Hallmark moment) greeting.  In the merchant class or “trades”- another type of card developed in parallel with the calling card.  These were used in an early form of advertising, often containing a map so the prospective customer could locate the merchant’s shop in the days before numbered or named streets and signs.  

These merchant trade cards remained popular until the 19th century when the printing and distribution of newspapers made it easier and less expensive to advertise along with reaching a bigger group of potential customers.  But the use of “calling cards” by the aristocracy and gentry continued in use, often displaying coats of arms, monograms and other distinctive insignia.  Trade or business cards were used for a different purpose, even if one had a calling card.  In fact, one of the earliest forms of dunning letters was to leave a business card with a butler in place of a social one as that was a subtle indication a debt was owed.   There was a complex set of rules and regulations governing the use of calling cards and what you could write on them back in the days of “Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs”.  Let’s just say the rules were complicated, much  like knowing what fork or glass to use when dining with the Queen at Buckingham Palace .  

So slipping ahead, the use of the business card replaced the calling card in the earlier days of the last century.  We all use them today in styles not too different from what our parent and grandparents used, but maybe with a bit more information.  Simply put, they are useful ways to quickly share information, especially with Asian business leaders who still consider the rituals of exchanging cards important and the etiquette surrounding the exchange essential to good manner.  Cards today can have their information easily transferred to an electronic database so you can use the data for future communication and follow ups.  It’s still a great place to jot down a note about the person you met or phone number on one of your own cards if no other paper is at hand.  Another option, you can mark it as a card to discard if there is no desire for future contact with the person.  

But in this increasingly electronic world of touch screens and keyboards, the pure feel or tactile pleasure of holding a card made of high quality stock is another type of reminder of the person you are (or met).  A sense of touch is another vital way the mind uses to remember something or somebody.  The type of card you use could vary widely, but in the professional class, it is best to stay with something that represents your service and expertise.  The style and material of the card a graphic designer or music promoter uses should have a different look than a public official, doctor and of course – an attorney.  

A company that has specialized in providing all types of cards to many types of businesses across the globe has shared some background on this story and some information about what are the trends in cards today.  Larry Strybel founded a company called Business Cards Etc. back in 1989 in a suburb of Chicago .  He has designed cards for many types of customers from all over the United States , Europe, Asia and South America .  His company is located at 6437 Dempster Street , Morton Grove , IL   60053 (847) 470-8848 (


According to Mr. Strybel, here are some current card trends…

Plasticized Material - Many business cards are being printed on a plastic substrate, since plastic business cards last forever and look amazing. Some designs include see-through looks or textured material.  A new method is printing on a white coated card on both sides to replicate a wider variety of paper stock as the paper companies are producing less and less varieties today.  Either matte or glossy, these new options allow you to write on the card, often difficult with past glossy stock.

Four or Full Color - Full color printing is more affordable for any business now.  Multi-color business cards are very popular. Black ink on white or beige stock are most often used for more formal or professional concerns. 

Logos - Many companies are focusing on corporate identity to create images and identity (called “Branding”).  We see requests for specific fonts used by corporations (i.e. IBM or Coca-Cola) so these companies are using one type of font in all of their marketing designs, including business cards.

Enhanced Images – To rise above the crown, graphic designers now incorporate bolder designs to more quickly capture the eye.  With the advent of more easily used design software, many companies are demanding quality designs to set them apart from the “do it yourself” look that is often duplicated by amateur designers.  Photographs are popular with various types of businesses like realtors.

Rounded Corners or Unique Shapes - More one-off shapes for business card printing have emerged as die cut printing technology has improved over the years. Rounded corners are popular and still conform to standard size cards.  Other new options are smaller, square, round and oval cards.

Raised Print/Engraving – If truly engraved, that is an expensive and hi-quality way to create a distinctive card.  But the more modern raised print that was used to mimic the more expensive engraving process, has fallen out of favor.  The trend is for flat printing with more interesting design elements and graphics. 

Keeping It Simple – As you look at what’s important today, keeping it simple and going back to basics of neutral color palettes with easy to read information is important.  There is so much more information you need on a card today then twenty years ago.  Emails and websites are equal in importance to phone numbers, while use of fax numbers seems to be dropping off.  A name, title, address and phone is just not enough these days.

So as you can see, the business card is far from finished.  It is important to create a card that best exemplifies who you are and what you provide.  Cards are still a visible introduction and reminder of the people and businesses that they represent.  Take a moment, look at your current card and those of your peers to be sure that your card truly represents the image you want to share with the world. 

Meet Mark V. Matz

Mark V. Matz - began working in the broadcast media for WGN Radio and Television in Chicago, IL (a part of the Tribune Company) back in the late 1970's as part of the team on the then number one rated radio program. He later worked in the station’s Sports Department working for Baseball Hall of Fame Broadcasters Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Lou Boudreau - before moving into the Finance Department at WGN, reaching the title of Credit Manager in 1986.

Moving beyond broadcasting, he went to work in the credit industry on the association side of the business before branching out to provide marketing services to a number of members of the industry ranging from attorneys, collection agencies and law list publishers. Mark served on staff as Marketing and Membership Director for the CLLA and remains active with the association; including serving as Co-Chair of the National Marketing Committee and on the Midwest Regional Executive Council. He also served on the Creditors’ Rights Executive Council, as Secretary of the Association of Law List Publishers and in various positions on other CLLA and Commercial Collection Agency Association committees. Mark has written numerous articles and spoken at a number of educational programs on marketing, finance, credit and collection issues during his thirty-plus year career.





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