Director of Marketing
August 14, 2017
Your Business Card Is Costing You Business
You are missing an opportunity to create value the moment that you offer someone your typical business card. The missed opportunity is the creation of a memorable moment and the encoding of your essential messages. And, you didn’t even realize that the opportunity existed.
This missed opportunity reflects: 1) the investment, thinking, and strategy that guided the card’s design and 2) the lack of research into human interactions. Correcting the situation requires analyzing the hurdles that business cards overcome, searching for opportunities to add value throughout the business card exchange experience, and executing to deliver that value.
Let’s start with the hurdles.
Cultural Touching Points
Cultural norms regarding physical contact vary by culture and geography. Southern Europeans touch each other very frequently, unlike their northern European counterparts.1 Friends in England do not touch each other during conversation, but in France, they touch each other up to 110 times per hour.2 In Puerto Rico, friends may touch each other up to 180 times each hour.2 Although subtle touching encourages a stronger physical connection and provides an indication that people are comfortable with each other, in a professional setting, excessive touching carries cultural and legal risks. These barriers present challenges to establishing interpersonal connections, especially in a business setting.
The business card is our opportunity to simultaneously establish a connection in multisensory fashion — verbally, visually, and physically, driving a stronger impression — and to share valuable messages that together create a memorable moment.
Discover Opportunities That Add Value
Arteric’s president, Hans Kaspersetz, shared neuroscience research with me indicating that the brain’s haptic memory system can be leveraged to add value to a business card.3 Haptic memory is associated with texture and shape. When we touch an object, haptic memory encodes the characteristics of the object and associates them with the memory of the object. Based on this research, we created a haptic event — a uniquely embossed element — and included it in the design of our business card. Each time someone picks up the card, we leverage haptic memory in addition to visual and aural cues to recall the engagement.
Deliver Key Messages
We wanted our business cards to deliver multiple messages beyond Arteric’s visual brand, among them:
- Everything by design
- Show, don’t tell
- Push the boundaries of what’s possible
- Include only the functionality that delivers competitive advantage
After much brainstorming and testing, we selected these design elements:
- Dedicated space for writing notes — research indicated that note taking was desired-but-missing functionality in card design
- Exceptionally thick card stock for a firm, confident feel — and essential for effective note taking
- An embossed logo — to trigger a haptic memory and provide a firm grip on the card, also essential for note-taking. To differentiate from the competition, the embossed elements had to be readable on both sides of the card — the embossed side and the debossed side. This dual readability is physically impossible to achieve in a single embossing event.
Act On Those Opportunities
Turn Concept Into Reality
Our design requirements created production challenges. Card stock that was heavy enough to allow note taking (160 lb) was too thick for clean embossing. Finding a printer who could overcome these hurdles AND figure out how to create an embossed logo that was readable on both sides of a card was our next challenge. More than a printer, we needed a research partner willing to experiment collaboratively.
We met with a slew of printing firms before we found one whose love for out-of-the-box-thinking and experimentation matched our own. We found our partner in Tony Viscito of Metrographics Printing.
After weeks of collaborative planning and experimentation between Arteric and Metrographics, Tony’s team overcame the challenges by gluing together two sheets of 100-lb card stock to provide a stiff foundation for note taking. To create an embossed element readable on both sides, each sheet was embossed separately prior to gluing — a novel process custom-created for the task. For the lettering on both sides to align seamlessly, Arteric’s design team had to produce artwork of sub-millimeter accuracy to produce readable embossed lettering on both sides of the card.
“Unique projects like this require the client’s design team to work seamlessly with our production group,” states Tony. “Just like my team, Arteric refused to compromise on any quality issue. This made it clear that they were all in on the project.”
Something We Missed
We love the end result, but we’re guilty of an oversight. Our cards aren’t read perfectly by every card scanner. As a company that prides itself on putting itself in the clients’ shoes, we should have anticipated that many people would scan the card, triggering the need to test our font strategy on a variety of devices and mobile apps.
Make The User Experience Memorable
As a creative director, I always ask myself if I’m doing everything feasible to deliver an experience that lodges your brand favorably in your audiences’ minds. Because the information cued by haptic memory has a very short lifetime — between 2 and 10 seconds — we optimized the entire business card user experience, beginning with the exchange.4
Brainstorming and optimizing led to this approach:
- Establish and maintain eye contact.
- Hold the business card at the bottom edge so that the recipient grasps the logo during the exchange. Testing indicated that when people rub the logo with their thumb and forefinger, they quickly sense the difference that the embossing creates.
- Continue the conversation by explaining that we planned the experience and then introduce the design thinking.
Leave No Opportunity Behind
Engagement opportunities abound at every step of the customer journey. The number of opportunities found and the value that is added to them reflects the effort put into the search and the insight to know what to look for. Some will question the time, research, and expense that we invested in designing a business card. Others might point out the irony of a totally digital marketing agency like Arteric investing so heavily in an old-school analog asset like a business card.
But those groups would be missing the point, which is, that adding value to a touch point in the customer journey (the business card exchange) was driven by combining experience with curiosity, research, and experimentation. In this case, the data indicated that leveraging tactile sensations would add value to the business card exchange. This should come as no surprise. Dr. Joshua Ackerman of the Sloan School of Management at MIT points out that touch influences purchases and perceptions during interpersonal encounters.5 In one experiment, people who interviewed a prospective employee while holding either a heavyweight or lightweight clipboard considered the candidate to be more seriously interested in the job when the interviewer held the heavier clipboard.5
The lesson for healthcare marketers is that in an era of myriad digital connections and endless competition for eyeballs, brand teams and marketing communication departments have many opportunities along the customer journey to make an impression. In the interaction with any tactic — tweet, slim jim, email, Facebook like, or phone call — there’s value waiting to be mined and competitive advantage to be gained if you know where to look and do the research that helps you see the opportunities that your competitors miss.
Create Remarkable Customer Experiences With Arteric
Experience, curiosity, research, and experimentation informed the design of our business card. The same approach produced double-digit increases in user engagement after we redesigned a website. Contact us at 201.558.7929 to maximize the value every time your customers engage with your brand.
- Furnham A. The psychology of touch: the taboo of physical contact. Psychology Today website. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201507/the-psychology-touch-the-taboo-physical-contact. Posted July 31, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2017.
- Greene E, Goodrich-Dunn B. The Psychology of the Body, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013.
- Haptic memory. Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haptic_memory. Accessed August 2, 2017.
- Dubrowski A, Carnahan H, Shih R. Evidence for haptic memory. Paper presented at the World Haptics Conference. March 18-20, 2009; Salt Lake City, UT. https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/whc/2009/3858/00/04810867-abs.html. Accessed August 13, 2017.
- Williams L, Ackerman J. Please touch the merchandise. Harvard Business Review. December 15, 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/12/please-touch-the-merchandise. Accessed August 13, 2017.
To learn more about sensory marketing, check out these references. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me by email — firstname.lastname@example.org — or by phone — 201.558.9002.
- The science of sensory marketing. Harvard Business Review. March 2015. Available at https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-science-of-sensory-marketing.
- Krishna A. Sensory Marketing: Research on the Sensuality of Products. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis; 2009.
- Krishna A. Customer Sense: How the 5 Senses Influence Buying Behavior. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan US; 2013.