A Social Experiment with Business Cards

March 19, 2019 by: Douglas

While making appearances with my books, I noticed a strange trend among the visitors who took my business cards. I have a business card holder that sits up front for people to take. However, at conventions and events in which I had a large table, I would spread a few loose ones in otherwise empty spots. I figured it would be more convenient depending how a person approached my booth, and more visible than the card holder.

To my surprise, I began to notice a trend. Far more people would take the loose cards scattered on the table than those who would reach for the card holder. Even at conventions with smaller tables, if I spread out some cards, people were much more likely to grab from the pile than the holder. I started counting cards to see how tilted this was. (Hey, sometimes you have long periods of boredom and no sales, so you need entertainment.) People were grabbing loose cards at between a 3-to-1 or 2-to-1 ratio.

When I mentioned this to someone else, they pointed out that, at that event, I had the loose business cards on the public’s right and the card holder on the left. They thought it might be related to the majority of  right-handed people. So, I did a couple events in which the card holder was on the public’s right side and the loose ones were scattered on the left. Interestingly, it had no effect on the ratio. People would reach across their body to grab from the loose ones rather than the holder right in front of them.

What does this mean? Do people feel they fumble too much separating one card from a holder? Do people like to ‘pick’ a card as if it was a spread out magician’s deck? Is it preferable to pull from a messy pile rather than disturb a neatly-stacked deck in a holder?

One thing is for sure – I’m going to keep some loose cards scattered around my table space, no matter how small it is. People prefer it that way!