Have I got your attention? Good. I figure if I get you mad you’ll take some action!
I’ve been attending business functions for many, many years, both as a speaker and as a participant. Along the way, I have collected thousands (if not tens of thousands) of business cards. (It’s possible that I may even have one of your cards on my desk, right now…)
Your business card is your ‘silent salesman’, so they say, and it should be an introduction to all the things you can do to best help your clients. The problem is, over half of all business cards will, on some subconscious level, say the equivalent of “My business is small, and will always be small. Do not trust me, do not deal with me.”
If you’ve been in business for more than three weeks, you’ll know that words are not the sole means of communicating your message. A good leader, manager or salesperson will know that much of their message is non-verbal: body language, inflection, pace and tone can make up to 70% of the message, not just the words of the salesperson. In the same way, your ‘silent salespeople’, such as ads or business cards, carry more information than just the words you consciously see.
Why your ‘silent salesperson’ may be an idiot, and what to do about that
1. No email address
Many people prefer to send an email first, before making a phone call. This is a perfect, non-intrusive way to say “thanks for connecting”, to make an offer of your product or service, to touch base or request an appointment time without interrupting the recipient’s work day. If you do not have an email address on your card, you are inviting people to:
- Not bother contacting you at all, or worse,
- Interrupt your busy day with an unexpected phone call
2. Mismatch between website address and email
It is truly surprising how many times this occurs. Right now I have over 850 business cards sitting on my desk, all people who I’ve met in person at an event, workshop, seminar or networking meeting. I would guess that 30% to 50% have this wrong. And if this is you, please discard your box of business cards and start over again. If your website is www.CompanyName.com and your email address is Peter.Smith1958@yahoo.com then you look ridiculous, and I will not take you, or your business, seriously. Every single website or domain name sold has at least 100 free email addresses (sometimes unlimited), so make use of them. You don’t want another email address? Use email forwarding, so that any emails sent to your “work” account can be automatically forwarded to your Yahoo or Gmail without the sender seeing the redirect. I have a few businesses and several domains, all of which redirect to a single Gmail account for maximum ease of use and portability whilst maintaining a good appearance and absolute professionalism.
3. Email address that makes your business look insular
Small businesses like local cafes or small specialty stores don’t need a website, right? It was this exact thinking that saw many businesses left behind in the late nineties and early noughties. With technology, every business has the opportunity to be a global business, and even if you are a specialty local store, you can attract clients from any country in the world. They may choose to buy your products and have them shipped to Estonia, or they may wish to do some research on your business before they come out to visit your city. Aim to have a domain and email that ends in “.com” for global use, not a “com.au” or “com.za” which may suggest that you only deal with local clients or businesses in your country.
4. Position related email address
If a card says firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com then it makes me think that management has no imagination, or that staff are so transient, the position stays the same and they just hand the email account to the next person who fits behind the desk. Seriously, if you can tailor-make and print business cards with the person’s name on them, then you have time to set up an email account that is tailored to their name as well. Treat your staff like individuals, not like numbers, and they will perform like humans, not robots.
5. Email address that makes your company look small
This may seem contradictory to the last point, but think about it: if you are a solo-operator business, you may have an email that says adam@MyBiz.com.au, however, an organisation with hundreds of employees would be more likely to have an email with the more reassuring format Adam.Brown@MyBiz.com.au. This makes it appear that there are many ‘Adams’ in the business, and many other people on whom I can rely for service, just in case the first person is ill or un-contactable. Perception = Reality for your clients, and they want to deal with a business who is big enough to help them, even if the original contact person is sick or unavailable.
Time to take action
To make sure you are not making these mistakes, grab your business card out and check it against the list. Give the card to someone who does NOT know you, and ask for their opinion on what the email or layout says about the business. Don’t ask the opinion of a friend or loved one: you want brutal honesty here.
If your card is being discarded (see what I did there?), trashed or ignored, it is costing you business and not making you money. You need to need to know the facts and you need to sack that ‘silent salesperson’ and get a new one, stat!
After reading the above, do you think a new business card is in order? Or do you reckon that silent salesperson is doing a great job for you?