Two companies in the Washington, DC area are approaching a time honored business ritual – the exchange of business cards between two professionals – in slightly different ways.
DubMeNow of Vienna, Virginia has a smart phone based application that allows people to quickly text or email their contact data to another user with the application loaded on their smart phone. The data appends directly to device’s address book and whenever contact information changes, it is automatically updated. At the time of this blog, they are live for Google Android and the BlackBerry – next come Apple iPhone and Windows Mobile devices.
Mingle360 of Fairfax, Virginia has developed a USB based device they call the “MingleStick” which wirelessly communicates to another Minglestick when they are pointed toward each other and both users press a button. Along with a contact manager called “MingleManager,” a user can manage their identity by assigning “need to know” type privileges to contacts.
Both solutions intend to make obsolete the need to share, sort through, enter or amend printed data on those little analog rectangles. On one hand, the Marketing Consigliere still has a few boxes of business cards ordered from VistaPrint that he wants to hand out:
Look at them. They’re artistic (OK, they’re VistaPrint templates) and you can write extraneous notes on them, stick them in your pocket, and quickly type the data in in less than 30 seconds if you’re coordinated. Perhaps that’s a big if. While the Mingle360 may be useful at trade shows, there are a plethora of existing technologies that are being implemented, albeit at trade show rip-off prices.
Even if either of these products take off, once the novelty works off, where’s the impact known as “First Impression?” A business card, with the right messaging (title, logo, tagline, etc.) , contributes to that along with the obvious human factors such as appearance, handshake, eye contact because it’s visual.
The Marketing Consigliere is old enough that he may “bitterly cling” to his business cards and conduct “old fashioned” social networking, but on the other hand, he does like gadgets. However, he doesn’t need another proprietary device if one gadget can already do the trick. And he’s not crazy about what amounts to be a proprietary CRM app. So he opts for the the DubMeNow capability. He just wishes they’d please release the Windows Mobile version. It’s been two weeks since their launch party when this photo was taken: