Archive for September 6th, 2011

Does Your Image Match?

So, I took the car into the shop for some routine maintenance. I go to a place I’ve been taking it to for the past couple years now. They are so awesome. The front desk staff is so friendly. Unlike lots of car shops, this one is actually clean and tidy. They give complimentary engine light checks if you have one come on. They’ll drive you home if it’s going to be awhile for your car. The mechanics are clean-cut, take time to explain things to you clearly, and don’t leer and drool at you if you’re a woman. (Ladies, you know what I’m taking about!)

Anyway, as I was waiting in the reception area for one of the guys to drive me back home, I was nosing around the business card table. This is a little spot where the shop owner lets his customers leave their business cards and flyers. I like to see who else is on the local independent business owner scene (indy businesses are my favorite!), and I came across a card that had me feeling so sorry for the owner.

You see, the biz card said it was a marketing business, but everything about the card loudly contradicted this and instead indicated that this wasn’t someone who understood marketing at all. The card was a stock template from Vistaprint I’ve seen a million times with “business cards are FREE at vistaprint.com” on the back. On the front, the font was so small I could barely make out the name of the biz owner. There was no website listed so I couldn’t go online to learn more about the business and what it offered. And the email was a gmail address.

You don’t have to be a great designer to be in the marketing business. BUT someone in the marketing business… that is, someone who really is an expert in marketing KNOWS (as this is one of the most basic things to understand) that image is everything. If you say you are an expert and professional, your marketing materials MUST demonstrate that. That being the case, this business owner who was supposedly in the marketing profession should have known to hire a designer to put together a proper and professional-looking business card.

So instead of a business that I would ever call for marketing, I get the impression that this isn’t a real expert at all. Now, maybe they really are an expert and really great. But as the only thing I have to judge them on right in front of me, their business card tells me otherwise.

I don’t know this business from Adam. As the first introduction and presentation of that business, their business card is a either a deal maker or a deal breaker. It’s either going to instill confidence in me that they are a successful, expert marketing business that I’d be interested in looking into further, or it’s going to tell me, either consciously or subconsciously, not to bother. And this goes for anything that represents your business–your website, your content, your brochures and cards, etc.

So why is a well-designed website important? Why do you need a properly designed logo? Why spend money on a designer when you have tools on your computer that you can use yourself? Because your business image tells a story to your prospective clients. It gives them clues as to whether you really are a successful professional who is expert at what you do or merely an amateur they shouldn’t waste money on. It helps them connect the dots and encourages them to take the next step (whether that’s going to your website or contacting you for a consultation).

If this biz owner really knew what he was doing, he would have a properly designed, original card–not a template and definitely not one that told the world he was too unsuccessful to afford to pay for his own business cards. He would have a website for people to go to so they could learn more. He would have some kind of offer or call to action on the card. He would use a proper email address on his own domain.

Image is everything people. Don’t skimp on yours.