The importance people attach to your cards is a direct measure of how they value that card. And this in turn is a reflection of the story your card tells.
Many of the cards you give, are either thrown away, lost, or tucked away in office drawers or wardrobes at home, never to be retrieved. Why? Many reasons. The principal one is that there is no discipline in handling cards.
Very few professionals have folders to stick-in the cards they collect. Besides, information on cards is not inspiring- simply the name, designation, organisation, address, telephone numbers, and email. And business cards are being misused now. Even crooks are now brandishing cards with deceitful inscriptions. And so, you really don’t know, who is who?
“Here’s my card.” That is not the issue now. What matters now is the information in your card, the story it tells. Take a hard look at your business card. Does it tell a story? If not, add value to it by making it tell a story. The story in it makes it a powerful marketing tool. It enhances your personal branding. How do you tell a story on a business card? Just read on.
David McNally and Karl D. Speak, in their book, Be your own BRAND, say: “Everybody already has a brand. Your brand is a reflection of, who you are and what you believe, which is visibly expressed by what you do and how you do it. It’s the doing part that connects you with someone else, and that connection with someone else results in a relationship. In reality, the image of your brand is a perception held in someone else’s mind. As that perception, through repeated contacts between you and the other person, evolves and sharpens, a brand relationship takes form.”
One effective way to build your brand is to tell a good short and sharp story on your business card. A story makes that card a powerful marketing tool. But be careful. Avoid flowery messages. Beyond name, designation and address, give your business card a voice. How? By making it speak in the active voice about what you can do, or what makes your goods and service stand out in the marketplace. In other words, your cards should be decently promotional.
See how the mobile phone operator in Nigeria, MTN, brands its recharge cards. When a pay-as-you-go subscriber exhausts her credit, a polite voice on the telephone line alerts her :
“Please, load an all-in-one card,” is the instruction.
That voice sets you thinking and makes you believe that whenever you buy an MTN recharge card, you have bought it all. See the difference: The market calls it a recharge card, but the service provider calls it, “all-in-one-card.”
“Here is my card.” What is the value in your business card? Can it speak? Or is it just a piece of paper indicating your presence and location. You have to improve on that paper. Put information on it that tells a story, to limit your cost of promotion and keep you within “ear and eye” shot of your business associates and customers.
Many innovative companies are turning business cards into smart marketing tools. Cards can even become motivational tools, if they are personalised and packaged with inspirational messages. Use your business cards to make your employees proud of what they do. This is business sense. Employees who are proud of what they do make better workers, says Sarah P. Noble in her book: 301 Great Management Ideas.
In the book, the author highlights an American company, Spectrum Control Inc. which broadcasts its credo of what distinguishes it from competitors, right on the back of employees business cards. The company places a 45-word message: “Spectrum’s Quality Response Process,” on the back of each employee’s business card, stressing that it is committed to quality performance and error free jobs.
Cost of producing the cards is low. Each card contains the company’s name and address, on the front, and the message at the back. The cards are then customized to include the employees name, job title, and telephone numbers. Can you beat this? The message on the back of the card tells a story. An unemployed professional can still tell her story on her card without job title or place of work.
A creative story with message about your talent, skills, ability and what you can do will sell you. Your business card is a cost-effective medium to tell your value story with great impact. The things we take for granted offer us great opportunities to tell our stories and gain advantage in the marketplace.
Our business cards deserve better treatment. Add value to them with a short story of what you do, or how you do them, or what values you can add to your customers’ life or business. When you that, the next time you say, “Here’s is my card,” you are telling your story, marketing yourself, and not just paying compliments.
Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com