Are Business Cards Dead?

Are Business Cards Dead?

They aren’t “dead” per se.

There are still times when it’s nice to have a business card to give, particularly when you are asked for one.

And a nicely designed card enhances your business image.

The problem is many people don’t know how or when to use them appropriately.

They agonize and spend too much time and energy on them. They think by throwing their card into the winds in all directions, eventually they’ll get someone (anyone? pretty please!) interested. And that’s a really demoralizing dynamic, not to mention ineffective.

So, the question should really be “Are business cards effective for marketing?”

The problem is your business card is about you, when your marketing — to be effective — needs to be about your potential client.

Shoving your card indiscriminately into as many faces as you can amounts to “cold calling,” which is the act of trying to “sell” yourself to anyone and everyone without any indication they want to hear from or know about you whatsoever.

No one likes to be imposed and intruded upon that way.

Those folks are not prospects. They’re just people you’ve cornered.

Sure, they’ll take your card out of politeness, but you’ll never hear from them. You’ll turn off more people than you’ll interest going about it like that.

Let me tell you a story about my days as a private investigator…

As a private investigator, I was sometimes called on to handle difficult process serves. These were the cases where people were evading service by hiding and not answering their doors.

You could try everything in the book without budging them.

However, the one thing that worked nearly every single time was when you walked up to the door with a big package or huge bouquet of flowers.

Did they actually get the delivery or bouquet? No. You’d give them the papers that were being served.

But when they saw you walking up with a package or flowers, they thought they were getting something, and that’s what made them open the door. Nearly no one could resist the possibility of a gift!

So this is my advice to you.

No, not to trick people, but to give them a gift instead of your business card (save those for other purposes).

When I say gift, I do not mean SWAG.

SWAG (short for “stuff we all get”) is all those pens, envelope openers, etc., that are branded with your business info.

SWAG is just more vanity junk that’s about you that people don’t want or care about, more than half of which simply ends up in the garbage and forgotten.

What I’m talking about is some kind of handout that is for and about them and their business that’s going to truly be of use and value.

Maybe it’s a free report. Maybe it’s a free how-to guide. Maybe it’s a free pass to sign-up for an e-class you conduct.

It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something that’s of real interest and value to your target market that teaches them about a topic they are interested in, shows them how to do something, or helps them overcome some kind of challenge, obstacle or problem.

And then of course, you want to make sure your hand-out is branded and includes a call-to-action at the end that gets them over to your website.

You’ll garner far more interest and inquiries this way without turning a single person off.

The paradox is that because you’ve given them a gift and made it about them, they in turn are going to be more interested in you.

The beauty of this approach is that those people who come to you by going to your website and contacting your further, those are actual hot prospects because they’ve indicated their interest simply by visiting your site.

Don’t you agree that’s a far more feel-good prospect for all involved?

11 Comments Posted in Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Hi Danielle,
    I agree with your post since business cards do seem to be tossed around just as freely as random advertising is done.

    What would you suggest for events where you may be meeting many people that could be potential clients?

  2. Hi Mary 🙂

    What you want to do is choose a target market. A target market is simply a profession/industry/field that you focus your administrative support on.

    Once you choose a target market, that will inform you on where to meet those people.

    Having a target market gives you direction for all your efforts and will answer all your questions on what the next steps are. Want to know where to market and meet potential clients? Well, where is your target market hanging out in large groups? What are their industry associations, conferences and business events? What are their industry publications? What are their industry blogs? What are their online forums and listservs… get the idea?

    Focusing on a target market makes everything easier in your business and marketing!

  3. Bridget says:

    Thank you for this. I have business cards just sitting in a drawer. I hardly use them.

    My business is all online and paperless, and you have just given me permission to ditch the business cards altogether. 😉

  4. Judy Reyes says:

    One other problem with distributing business cards indiscriminately is sometimes they are used to collect your contact info and then you start getting all kinds of solicitations, email and otherwise. Instead of bring business to you, they are used for someone else’s marketing to you.

    Good advice here. I think business cards can be useful in certain instances.

  5. Lisa Kelly says:

    Was thinking about creating some cards and paying for printing, but after reading this, I think I need to decide what my ‘gift’ should be first. Then I can print it up. Thanks Danielle!

  6. Karla says:

    Hi Danielle, I haven’t started my own business yet (I’m working in tiny steps) however, I really enjoy reading your articles, they are giving me so much inspiration. Regards the business cards – the idea of giving a gift is great, especially when its personalised/unique to the receiver for their business. I am really looking forward to creating some ‘gifts’ for my business venture.

    Thanks again,
    Karla

  7. I love this article Danielle! It clearly states the case to dispose of old antiquated marketing ideas such as “direct marketing” and replace it with a new fresh approach. Thanks for sharing and I will use this article to brainstorm ideas for my marketing plan.

  8. Julia Lilly says:

    How old is your box of business cards? Great article by Danielle Keister.

  9. Alaine Black says:

    Great article! It totally make sense to intrigue your target when they least expect it.

  10. I as well enjoyed this approach with business cards. People are tired of being “marketed at” and want to have that personal touch. The what can I do to help or solve an issue in your (prospect client) world, is making more of a sustainable impact. Good article!

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