Andrew Flusche asks for help with designing his business cards, which is interesting because I just redid my business cards yesterday. I decided to make them different than typical business cards. Here’s why.
A few years ago, when I was still working for the large law firm, I jokingly had some ‘Ernie the Attorney’ cards made. Well, actually I made them myself while playing around with Photoshop Elements and then took the file to FedEx/Kinkos and had 500 made. Whenever I ran into people who knew me from this blog I gave them this card on the left (click on it to enlarge it). The black & white photo is what used to appear on the banner of this weblog, so it was sort of a ‘branding’ thing.
People loved the card, and always made a big deal about it. They wanted to know where the picture was taken (the Metro in Paris) and if I had taken it (yes). It seemed like the card had ‘special powers’ because it always created a small buzz. Soon I started giving these cards to everyone, even folks who didn’t know I had a blog. Same result.
That’s when I began to sense that traditional business cards are kind of lame.
When I started my solo practice, I still felt obliged to have traditional business cards. I couldn’t say why exactly. I thought maybe for when I needed to give contact information to, say, a court reporter. This card here (pictured left) is the result: it had my phone number, email address, physical address, fax number and so forth. And I think we can agree that it’s pretty dull.
I found that if I gave my ‘Ernie the Attorney’ card to one person in a group and my business card to another person, the later would feel cheated and ask me if they could have one of the ‘special cards.’ That’s when I finally accepted the truth: no one really cares about ordinary business cards.
So the other day I updated my blog design with a cool new photo of the skyline of New Orleans. I decided to use the same photo for my firm website, and that led me to consider updating my business cards. I needed to update the cards anyway, since I had recently moved to a new address.
I decided to re-examine the whole business card concept. What exactly do I want my business card to do? First, I want it to be cool enough that people still find it interesting when I give it to them. That’s the most important thing. And it would be best if I present the same ‘brand image’ as my websites. But a business card should let people know how they can contact you. How do people do that these days? They call or they use the internet. So my new card gives two ways to contact me—a phone number and a web address.
Frankly, if people want to find me all they have to do is google ‘ernie attorney’ or ‘ernest svenson’ and they’ll find all the information they need. My physical address and so forth is up on the web, where it can be updated if it changes. My email address is on each of my weblogs. Even if I didn’t have a business card, it would be easy for people to contact me if they wanted to. My business card should encourage them to contact me, and I’ve learned that traditional business cards don’t do much in the way of ‘encouraging.’
I think how we market ourselves deserves to be re-examined. Marketing is about getting noticed, in a good way. Traditional marketing is no longer effective; people rely on it only because it’s familiar. Seth Godin has helped me to understand this principle, and I highly his recent books and his blog, especially the recent post entitled: Why bother having a resume?
Incidentally, if you want to order business cards I recommend a company called Printing for Less. They were recommended to me by a top notch legal marketing consultant named Ross Fishman. They are truly amazing, and very reasonably priced. Definitely better than FedEx/Kinkos.