Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Business Card Marketing - It's More Than Handing Out Cards"

At one time, business cards were a very import - and heavily emphasized - part of our personal marketing efforts. There were sales seminars conducted on how to create and use business cards for the most impact.

Business cards were so important that before anyone arrived at a new position for which they were hired, business cards were printed so that a box of fresh cards was waiting for them on their desk when they began that first day.

Business cards were so important that often a graphic artist, marketing consultant, printer, or other consultant would be asked to do the layout. Colors, fonts, and other important details were considered. The default card was a white linen card with black raised printing. A more elegant card had more than one color and often had gold, silver, copper, or other colored foil stamped onto it.

We went to great lengths to make an impression. It was often said that the business card was the silent salesperson. We would leave them behind, include them in a brochure packet to a potential client, pin them to a bulletin board in a public place, or place a stack of them near the checkout at a restaurant or coffee shop.

We would keep the cards of others we had been given in a large Rolodex or card wallet. The prettiest cards and the most elaborate ones would stand out and grab our attention. This is why they were printed that way. The paper stock, the ink colors, the logo, the font choice, and other details made the card what it was.

It was normal to spend several times more on cards at that time than we typically do today, and we used them like they were inexpensive to produce. It was, after all, business card marketing. We were expected - by others as well as ourselves - to pass them out freely. Some people would see how fast they could go through a box of cards (500 or 1,000) and place a re-order. 

Some organizations then - and it still continues to an extent today - required their salespeople to distribute a certain number of cards per day or per week. This really cuts into quality for the sake of quantity.

If we want to get rid of a certain quota of cards, and we really don't care who gets them, we can find ways to do this - even through them away. That's not the point.

Fortunately, business card marketing has grown up, and now we rely on relationships rather than just having the cards available to hand out without any thought as to whether we have met the person we are handing it to or how interested they might be in using our services.

We meet someone, the conversation turns to the fact that we offer aging in place services and solutions, they express some interest, and we give them a card that contains our contact information. The same thing for referring professionals or potential strategic partners.

The business card is simply a convenient, and widely accepted way to convey our contact information to others (name, company name, cell phone number, email address, and other helpful data). People who don't know us, have never met or had any contact with us, or aren't interested in our services or in possibly working with us, have no need of our card. Our contact information is meaningless to them since they have no intention of reaching out to us. No matter how attractive the card is, it won't elicit a response from someone unless they at least have some knowledge of who we are or what we do.

Business card marketing as it used to be is ancient history. Today, we are all about creating and nurturing relationships. That's how we sell our aging in place services. We can still hand out our cards and go through several of them in a week's time if we like. We need to have conversations with people first, however, and make sure they are receptive to getting or taking our card from us. It's not so much handing out cards as it is putting in the hands of someone who want to connect with us.
  
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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.