That said is it bad to assume in re-branding that people would go to
the site to fill out a contact form?
Yes. I have found it a mistake to assume the preferred method of communication from any client. I have clients that I've never personally spoken to and everything is handled via email. I have clients who will send an email then call to see if I got the email and explain. I have other clients that only call with new work. They are fine with email chains about existing projects, but for new projects, they always call first.
Would it be good to counter the phone number with an email address on
Both is preferred. Playing of your first question, it's a good idea to provide both. Most new clients who discover me call, they don't email. They want to gage my reactions and attitude (which can't be done in email). It's all about personal removal. A phone call is one step away from a face to face meeting. An email is two steps. Some clients want the closer connections and won't really consider anyone forcing them into more detached communication. I have gained a few decent clients who started by sending me an email. The initial email was more to see if I was still working and available, then they wanted to call. Most new clients who strictly email me, and are not interested in a phone conversation, are simply price shopping and not interested in actually proceeding with work, at least in my experience.
Does the exclusion of classic elements in brand design effect
marketing to an older audience?
Yes. Absolutely. People in business are busy. Always. What can often be conveyed in a 10 minute phone call can take 3 days of emails back and forth to sort out. Often the quickest form of communication is desired by clients (at least the ones I deal with).
You don't want to put hurdles in front of clients. If a client prefers to call, they should clearly see a number to call. If a client prefers to email, they should clearly see an email address.
I have never gained any client via the contact form on my web site. Ever. It's there, easy to use, and functions, but clients don't bother with it. Of course, I don't really market my site as a form of client acquisition. The contact form on my site is there because it's "expected" as a part of any web site. I rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals for business. Knock wood, so far that's worked better than any web site.
All that being posted, I do not use Skype or any instant messenger. That is to say I have them installed and can launch them at a clients request, but I don't just let the process run in the background allowing anyone to ping me at any time. I know many like to include a Skype or IM number for branding. I've always found any IM to be more troublesome and only used by clients that I'm not very interested in acquiring. Busy business owners, with money to spend, are not using Skype and IM applications to vet contractors/freelancers in my experience.
I've always felt there are 4 mandatory things for stationary...
- Address (if you wish to get paid)
None of that should be excluded. Add more if you like, but if you want to deal business to business, you should have those items as a minimum. If you just want to throw business cards around that look cool, then do whatever you want and include whatever you want but realize without those 4 items above, stable, repeat business, clients are far more likely to brush off a "cool but lacking" card/stationary. Just ask yourself this... are you more likely to hire someone if you only know their email address? Or only know their phone number? Or do you feel more confident with someone if they share all the items above?
If you don't what to put your physical address on stationary, get a PO box (they are only ~$20 a year - less than web hosting) and use that address.