It was a friend’s luggage label that did it.
She provoked me to think again about my business message and my marketing. Her buff, pointed business card was unique, possibly homemade. (The stationary equivalent of “vintage shabby chic”). It restored my faith in the medium of the business card as a unique, warm and friendly exchange rather than a fervent and desperate investment.
I thought of the parable of the sower, that this seed was individually planted and watered rather than it being merely scattered carelessly within the vicinity. But then she is a Marketing expert!
There is, for me a sadly over-blown promise of card exchange at business speed dating events. I don’t attend them anymore. Instead, a quaint gesture I learned from a very successful businessman restored some value to this tradition. This was the respectful Chinese etiquette in receipt of an offered card. Both hands simultaneously receive the offered corners, with the slightest bow of the head in gratitude and appreciation.
In the four years since I started the adventure of business building, opinion seems to have shifted regarding the value of having and using a business card. My first exposure to a globally successful business network left me incredulous and nervous at the prescribed rules, behaviours and expectations upon its members. Other events though informal were still a strain for me and I eventually retreated to work hard on my brand.
Meanwhile, my overly optimistically ordered box of business cards has rarely seen the light of day.
Yet there is something missing in my reliance these days upon social media and URL links. I searched to think of another offering that intends to rouse a warm and fuzzy feeling. What else perfectly times and links symbolic representation with a valuable meeting?
……..It would be the wedding favour.
The tradition of giving wedding guests favours came to the UK in the sixteenth century. Then, we exchanged love knots made of ribbons and lace. Often, at a wedding, around fifty percent of the guests are unknown to each other. Yet there is a very obvious common interest and a genuine curiosity about each other’s relationship and connection. It is a time of celebration, the making of memorable promises and the witnessing of a life event to savour and recollect.
Five sugar almonds
I want the impact of my business card to be the difference between the serviette that I use and discard straight after the wedding breakfast and the favour that I will keep and reflect upon. For at least a few weeks afterward; maybe much longer.
One of my mentors has always been clear about the trend of e-business book writing and the catchphrase that writing a book is like having a “glorified business card”. So what is so special about a glorified disposable?
Nothing especially permanent.
We have got it the wrong way around.
I want my business card to be a “book in miniature”. It’s a distillation of promise and expectation, a token of thanks for sharing the ceremony of meeting. It’s my little favour bag of five sugar almonds to say “I value you. Thank you for the attention you gave me today, let me give you some back”.
A business card is not “Do me a favour and look me up sometime”. No one goes back to the hotel to comb through the trash for a used serviette. Neither should we expect anyone to revisit a conversation that was one sided and self-serving.
I suppose I’m challenging you and me to be prepared to carry and communicate a clear cause rather than a vested interest.
I’m going back to revisit my proposition and package some of THAT sense of occasion along with four years’ worth of product and service refinements.
Eventually even favours are eaten or go stale. Let’s keep our business value and marketing genuinely fresh!
I would be fascinated to know if you are using business cards or a variation on that theme, have dispensed with them or recently decided to re-design them. I’ll be testing some designs in the next few weeks. Do add your thoughts to the conversation!