Business Cards vs Email Marketing

I recently sent a “soapbox” email to a couple of friends about how I’ve felt recently about business cards in relation to networking and building up your business through local interactions. I’m currently in the process of building up my business consulting business again and I’ve been thinking a lot about networking I did in 2012 and how I want to market myself in 2014.

Is it just me or is the act of asking for someone’s business card the equivalent of “I just want to end this conversation and never talk to you again”?

I get asked for my business card [a lot?] and it’s almost always from someone who does not want to do business with me, but wants to either spy on me remotely later or end the conversation.

What are some positive interactions from potential customers?

They seek me out. They call me. They email me. If I don’t write back, they email me again or they call me. No business cards are involved. They’ve heard about me from someone else. It’s a referral thing.

So how do you get referrals?

Mostly by doing great work that’s shareworthy. Add a ton of value, show ROI, or other thrilling things that makes someone want to share your work with other people. Other than that, it’s a matter of showing up.

Email Marketing vs. Network Marketing

I brought this up while reading about networking meetings in the book, Double Your Freelancing Rate, which I did a lot of last year and had very, very limited success. The greatest success was from simply staying in contact (via email) with existing clients, meeting their needs, and being referred to others by those existing clients. I’m looking to do more of that, but not sure exactly how. That’s why I’m reading the book and looking to other experts in my field for help/feedback.

In reply to this email, my friend wrote this about his graphic design business:

I can see that I’m getting local referrals on the basis of the work that I’ve done…For a designer, it is important to have a business card because that is likely the first chance (and maybe the last chance if you don’t have one) that they will have to see your work. They may not get a chance to sit in front of a screen before they make a decision about whether or not to work with you. I’ve always had positive interactions around my cards because they are premium paper and thickness, they are slightly larger than your standard US business card, and they prominently feature my branding (pixel perfect at 300ppi) on the front and a playful, full-bleed image on the back. I think if I had a vanilla business card, it wouldn’t be much of a boon and it would probably hurt me (especially if it were a Vistaprint template card). I also get asked for my card from friends/acquaintances that aren’t looking for design services, but want to share with someone they know or a business owner (to help me or them out).

Good points. And I like how he was pitching his design services right into his reply. Nicely done.

Email marketing is one goal I’ve had to start doing more of in 2013 and it will continue into 2014. KissMetrics recently posted 7 Overlooked but Critically Important Details of Profitable Email Marketing in which they mention how Nathan Barry, a web designer, launched an eBook that made $12,000 in sales in 24hrs and went on to make over $85,000 in its first year (what they don’t mention is the 10,000 hours of work he had in his life leading up to that point). But seriously, I’m not even talking about product launches or information products here, I’m talking about communicating with your customers – decent human-like things you could be doing to let them know you’re not dead. Your competitors are talking to them so you should be too. Hopefully this blog post helped someone take some action. Stop reading and start writing!