Why Your Business Cards Stink & What To Do About It

Why Your Business Card Doesn’t Work

WARNING: This post may offend many graphic designers!

usual business cards
Do your business cards make money?

Ever stopped to think if your business cards actually work? The problem with business cards is that they’ve been put into the category of ‘stationery’ instead of marketing. The result is that business people, especially here in Zimbabwe, tend to demand and expect very little from them (and the people who design them).

I mean do you really believe that a little card with nothing but a logo, your name and phone number is really going to get you meaningful business?

It won’t – here’s why…

Here’s what most entrepreneurs do.

  1. You go to an ad agency, free-lance designer or your cousin who knows a bit of Photoshop/ Corel Draw and you pay them to design you a business card.
  2. You beg them to make it ‘original’, creative, different, blah blah blah – oh and lot’s of blue, “cuz that’s my favourite colour”. You shake hands.
  3. They fail. Or you’re lucky, they actually succeed. Then you get it printed. Nice thick stock, and Glossy.
  4. You hit the town, handing them out to any and everyone – Your clients, your banker, your friend who knows someone who knows someone, your security guard.
  5. You wait. Nothing happens.
  6. You go back to stage one…but this time, you want it to be EVEN MORE creative. You want a better designer. A better printer.

Alas, waste of time and money.

You’ve got two problems

  1. You didn’t know who to dish out your business card to, so you gave it to everyone. And why not? They’re so cheap and besides, you’ve got so many –right?
  2. Your business card, whether it looked good or not, was poorly designed.

About Business Card Problem # 1…

  1. Identify who your best prospects really are
  2. Find out where they are and how to reach them
  3. Give them your business card

Deep stuff ha? But most never do this. It’s harder, slower and not as exciting as giving everyone you know.

About Business Card #2

Even if you actually give your card to the right people, it still may not move them. Your strategy was based on nice design, NOT good marketing strategy.

So your prospect, 6 months later, if he hasn’t lost it, can’t even remember who you are or why he should call you instead of your competitor. Oh, but at least he really likes your colours and layout!

Let’s get something straight

Would you hire a plumber to fix your computer?

Of course not, you’re no idiot. You know that those are two completely different professions with different skill sets.

Same goes for graphic designers (even if from a big fancy ad agency) and marketers. Don’t hire an artist to build your business. That’s not what he does, even if that’s what he thinks! I know, because I was there once. Years ago, I started off my career as a graphic designer (a very good one). Businesspeople regularly trusted me with their marketing budgets, just because I was a creative artist!

But Marketing is not about design.

Just because it looks nice, doesn’t mean it will move people to act. And getting people to act on your communication is what marketing is all about.

That’s why you should never send a designer to do what only a marketer can do. Effective marketing and nice looking design are two different things. Sometimes they work together, but the latter will never replace the former. Okay? Never.

How to design a Business Card THE RIGHT WAY

1) Get Inside Your Prospects Head

  • What’s his mindset?
  • What’s his problem?
  • How does he describe his problem?
  • What does he perceive is his best solution?

Without this, you’re going to be focused on yourself. Your ego, your nice new logo, impressing your girl friend, having the most impressive design – all the wrong stuff.

2) What is your Most Wanted Response (MWR)

When he gets your business card, what is the action you most want him to take? Give you a call? Log on to your site? Pass it on to a friend, buy within 2 weeks etc.

Unless you often get the opportunity to really present your business when you hand out your card, it helps if you’re not trying to go for a sale immediately – especially if you’re handing out cards to people who don’t know you or your business.

When you answered these two questions, you now know for the first time what to say and how to design your bizcard.

For example, this is the backside of my business card (which you should always use). When I hand out my card my Most Wanted Response is to get them to visit my blog. Because of the people I’m dealing with and the strategy I’m pursuing, I also want them to know that they’re dealing with a REAL human being, not an impersonal corporation. I also want to show them that I’m a credible source for marketing advice

Here’s what it looks like

my business card
If i handed you this card, would you at least visit the site?

Not the flashiest design ha? A fancy logo with a gold print may have looked nicer, but like you, I’m not entering an art contest. I’m marketing my business. I want customers who buy, not observers to compliment my design. You’d be surprised just how well it actually works.

If I’m running a special promotion, meeting a very specific group of people – I’ll sometimes consider printing different cards, to make sure that I’m hitting em hard.

So what do you say? Do you think you might want to redesign your business card for results?

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2 Replies to “Why Your Business Cards Stink & What To Do About It”

  1. Your stuff is exceptional Max. Funny thing is most of it we already know but how come we never move an inch towards doing what we are supposed to do as entrepreneurs?

  2. Damn! This has got to be the best and most shocking thing I’ve read in a while. Everything you’ve described here is EXACTLY me! I WILL definitely be taking a different approach from now on. Thanx Baba!

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