Functional Business Cards – Standing Out From the Crowd

 In Idea

Overview & Introduction

You have been preparing all week for a crucial sales meeting. You have rehearsed your pitch multiple times. You meet and deliver your pitch. Before leaving you hand something over, your business card. They’re a little, yet important thing, right?

The origin of using Business Cards (or Calling/Visiting cards) is still not fully clear. One version is that they originated in 15th Century China, with another mentioning 17th Century France. They were mainly used among the aristocrats and the ‘classes’ of the time, with popularity growing rapidly

By the 18th century there was a standard paper & ink form of visiting cards being used in most of Europe. And the rest, we can say, is history.

Today, a card is the first impression of a company for an outsider, the most direct and personal marketing tool for a business.

Yet, you may argue that the use of physical Business Cards is on the decline. With people sharing their details electronically, what is the need? According to some, sharing details electronically is bad etiquette and also impersonal, so they may be here to stay!

The Problem

“One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards” – Susan Cain

The above quote sums up what it usually takes to convert a prospect. A relationship must form, through dedication and thoughtfulness. Yet, each relationship must start somewhere, occasionally with an exchange of a card. Yet, 88% of all cards are thrown within a week. Not a very encouraging statistic. With 63% of people feeling they no longer need the service on offer. So the card gets chucked.

This is the problem to be solved. How can you transform the contact information from a chuck-able card to a nice-to-have item. How can you make a card that truly represents your product? How can you make a card that one wouldn’t just throw away?

Visualising the Data

0 Mil.

27 million Business Cards are printed daily.

0 %

72% people judge a company by their cards.

0 Bil.

Business Cards represent a $1.2 billion industry in the US.

0 Bil.

Global printing market topped $785 billion in 2017.

Some of the numbers above are quite staggering. 27 million cards are printed everyday. That adds up to a cool 10 Billion per year.

A survey conducted found that 72% people judge a company by their Visiting/Business Cards. It also states that  37% say they wouldn’t want to do business with a company that has ‘cheap’ looking cards.


The Idea is to have Functional Business Cards. Wait, what is a Functional Business Card? Let me explain with an example. Let’s say you have a beer brewing company. You could always make the regular card with some fancy colours and your logo on it. Or you could think out of the box. Why not give a neatly designed bottle opener that fits in any pocket?

If you’re a barber, why not provide a compact comb? A grocery store, why not a handy spork?

Firstly, you are definitely going to make an impression! And even if they don’t want to purchase your produce, the word of mouth marketing may be worth it! Lego made customised figurines for their employees as Business Cards, how’s that for branding?!

The challenge of doing something out-of-the-box like this is to keep costs down. One avenue that can be considered is 3D Printing. You can create innovative items that could be used as Functional cards. The 3D Printing market is expected to grow to $50 Billion by 2025.


  • Not possible for every type of business
  • Costs are likely to be high
  • Can’t be given out in high quantities
  •  Almost everyone uses the standard type of card
  • Greater acceptance of Electronic Cards
  • Malfunctioning Cards


Today’s idea is about innovating a critical business tool. First Impressions are very important. They can make or break your chances of getting business. A Functional Business card will definitely help make a great first impression. But it will require a fair amount of planning and testing before roll-out. Keeping costs down is also going to be a challenge. But the end result will be worth the effort.

How would you improve the idea? Or, are you still not sold on the concept? Are you there already, and want some further content?

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