“I take a lot of pride in my work. I don’t take walk-ins. I have customers who come up from all the way from Boston to New York to see me. I don’t want my cards to bring in clients looking for a bargain. Having a premium product says something about me. I’m the Rolls Royce of the tattoo artist, not Hyundai Elantra!” ~ Laura M. Ezell
Business cards are the very first impression in an offline world. For every 2000 cards, you hand out, sales increase by 2.5%. 27 million cards are printed daily. Furthermore, it remains an essential part of word of mouth marketing. One can recommend you and hand the business card they got from you in the first place. One cannot do without business cards. Yet, 9 out of 10 business cards are discarded after an average of one week!
The purpose of this article is to find an answer to the question:
WHY is your card discarded?
Why DO people discard your card? A variety of simple explanation is:
- Not interested in your business
- Asked for or accepted your card out of politeness
- Cheap, bad design
1. Not interested
At least not for now. But when they are interested, your card is long gone. You hope they saved your information somewhere, perhaps made a picture of it, for it to be lost in the pile of digital pictures stored on their phone.
2. Out of politeness
Most of the times, people accept or ask for business cards out of politeness, to throw them out later. As with not interested, a card conveys an impression of how decent you are or that your business is a better option, it utterly fails at connecting on a personal level.
3. Cheap & bad design
This is perhaps no longer the case. With the rise of superb quality self-serve online design shops or hiring a dedicated designer, it is something of a past. But it still plays a role, as we will see further in this article. Cheap and bad designs are nowadays cheap paper and usage of STOCK IMAGERY and DIGITAL ART.
Not so obvious reasons?
- Lack of originality
- Lack of uniqueness
- Using digital art
- Your business is first, clienté is second
People discard your card because it’s not original, it’s just a business card. Originality comes either in the usage of special materials/shapes or it has a dual function, like a ruler or bottle opener. Some businesses go to great length to acquire a card that people will keep:
While impressive, the originality comes with a high cost, making it a very risky investment. Just imagine each business card would cost $4/5 dollar! A cheaper option is to go for originality in material, but that can be quite expensive as well ($635 for 250 cards!). A little more affordable are plastic cards, but still cost $1,00 each. For making an impression on a potential clienté it’s perhaps a bit over the top.
Under the right circumstances, a truly original card is worth the money, for example when you seek sponsorship or a high profile customer.
Besides originality, a potential clienté might discard your card because of it’s not unique.
The more of a card is printed, the less unique it is. Self-serve possibilities are great for small business owners to have access to affordable marketing materials. VistaPrint, 4th fastest growing printing company in North America has been a blessing for many small business owners. VistaPrint, but also many others, like Canva.com make it very easy for anyone to choose, design and order cards. The upside of large print runs and easy access is low cost. But the downside is uniqueness. It can happen that during a tattoo convention two or more stands have similar business cards!
If potential clienté do talk to you, it’s definitely a good idea to seal the conversation by the gift of a more unique card.
You can use an image or photo business card to archive a more unique feeling. BUT the unlimited print runs and easy access already lower the uniqueness. In the example below is a business card offered on Zazzle.com which clearly states the use of a stock image. Usage of a stock image is far from unique.
3. Digital Art
In my search to answer the question why people might discard your business card, one possibility is the usage of digital art! Digital (in art terms New Media) makeup on average 15% of the online art trade, while photographs are 48% and paintings takes the cake with 67%.
Digital art is not beautiful works of digital art, such as found on DeviantArt. Even a square made in any design software is considered “digital”. Digitally designed skulls, tribals, flowers etc. is based on statistics of art sale least favourite. Maybe only old people buy art? Actually, who are the buyer?
Art collectors are divided into two groups, Generation Y (20-35 yrs) and 35+ yrs. Statistics for both groups are very close. Usually, art is considered to be something for “old” people. But the fact alone that businesses in the financial sector, banks, insurance, lifestyle management etc. divided the group into two, really changes the notion of art being for old people. Art is not only for old people. A second fact is that the number of UHNWI will increase to 46% in the next decade (source: Deloitte art & finance report). Ultra High Net Worth Individuals get younger by the day!
4. Business-centric vs. clienté centric
All business cards, every single one of them, not a specific one, all of them, has the business in mind. This is how I represent my business, this is how I run my business. But that is the purpose of a business card, right? yes, I agree. But it wasn’t always like this.
First known business cards date back to the 15th century. It was called a visiting card. The wealthy would use a visiting card to announce their visit to someone. A card was delivered and if the card wasn’t returned, it meant the guest is welcome. With the visiting card, you would let the other person know you like to see them (again).
A business card has long replaced a visiting card. More importantly, it also shifted where the centre of attention is. From letting the other person know you want to visit them to you ask them to visit you! This side egocentric impression of a business card is not often noticed. It may not sound obvious, but when you put the burden of visiting on some else shoulder, that alone might prevent them from doing so. In order to be satisfied, they first need to visit you.
An original business card can be achieved by going for special shapes and materials or dual function. The downside is the high cost. A unique business card is also a possibility of hiring a designer and using your brand assets such as logo and colour palette. When going for a unique business card you usually end up with some works of digital art. Digital art is the least favourite, according to art sales. Going for a self-serve print such as VistaPrint.com or Canva.com is in many instances not original, nor unique due to the high number of print runs (27 million cards are printed daily) and easy accessibility. Last but not least, all cards are business-centric instead of clienté centric. This is often unnoticed and causes friction for one to visit you.
I would like to take a moment to thank you for reading this far. Writing this blog post has taken hours and hours of work. I have done my best not to end up among those 2.3 million blog post published daily of which the majority is the same. Please, keep on reading! How can we come up with a business card that is truly original & unique?
Based on all the knowledge and facts we have before us, we will not be using digital art. Digital art is least favourite purchase. An explanation could be that people are more familiar with how a painting or drawing is made and therefore can feel that it’s more work than digital art. Perhaps in case of digital art, the process is more important than the actual work. Digital art takes as much, if not more work than a painting. But people don’t feel or see it. Printing a painting or drawing will also not work. It’s no longer authentic, as people expect a drawing to actually be drawn and a painting to be painted. A photograph is more suitable for this, we will go for that.
As stated before, an original card must have a practical dual function. Usually when you think of practicality, one thinks of tools to get something done physically. But what about satisfying the mind? Touching the soul? Perhaps this is more powerful than physical satisfaction. You can remember that nice dinner you had with a friend with whom you have a long-standing friendship. Can you remember when you fixed the kitchen sink? A photograph is also suitable for originality.
[unique: low print run]
[shift of attention]