Business cards are both the wave of the future and the way of the past.
A year or so ago I wrote a column about how to increase business using something as simple as those little billboards with your name on them-the ones you carry around in your pocket or purse your business cards. It was all about creative touches like stapling your business card to every check when paying a bill by mail, or clever ideas like not giving your card to a person who asks for it until you're sure he or she didn't ask just to get away from you. Or what to do if you don't have a card with you, but need something better than a cocktail napkin to write your phone number on.
In the column, I said if you had a great idea on using your business card to find more customers or a card you thought was extremely creative, to send it to me. I mentioned that if it were truly unique, I'd use it in my upcoming book on networking and the use of business cards. Well, the book's done. The title is "Here's My Card." If you sent me an idea and we used it in the book, we gave you recognition and you'll be getting a copy in the mail. If you didn't, I'd still like you to read the book. There are close to one hundred different ideas-from how to find more clients, customers, and contacts, to having a business card that really stands out from the rest.
Business cards are both the wave of the future and the way of the past. The cards may be low-tech, but they can leave an indelible impression. Think of the Lone Ranger. With a flurry of hoofs, a cloud of dust, and a hearty "Hi-Yo Silver," the Lone Ranger rides off into the sunset leaving everyone saying, "Who was that masked man?" What did he leave behind for the people to remember him? A shotgun shell? A spent .22 caliber cartridge? No. A silver bullet! Something that set him apart from all the rest. So, you've got two choices when handing out your business card. You can hand out a silver bullet in a memorable way, or you can just take a spent shell out of your pocket and hope for the best.
A business card is your signature. It reveals a lot about you. The Lone Ranger didn't carry his silver bullets around in his pocket, getting dirty, scratched and dusty. He kept them in his ammo belt so they always looked brand new. And he always presented a silver bullet in a way that made the recipients proud to accept it. They were happy to receive it. They didn't throw it out. They kept it around. They couldn't wait to show it to their friends.
You don't want to leave potential customers saying, "Who was that masked man?" Make sure they know. Make sure they remember. Make sure they know who you are and what you do. Most importantly, leave an impression so ingrained that they automatically keep you in mind for the future. However, you need more than a good-looking business card to help create more business for you.
What's more important is the person behind the business card. A jerk with a great looking business card is still a jerk. You need a little personality along with personal contact. You need to work on your schmoozing skills, and you need to capitalize on your own "magic circle" of influence. The more people you talk to, the better your chance of doing more business. Business cards are an integral part of networking.
When someone asks what you do, you have the perfect opportunity to give out a business card. You explain what you do as you hand over your card. Best-selling author Harvey Mackay suggests a multiple-choice response to the question, because it gives the other person more than one possible way to connect. He says that his typical answer is something like:
"One, I sell envelopes. Two, I write self-help books. And three, I jog. I'm always looking for ideas for one and two, and trying to figure out how to get paid for number three."
Do you have a unique answer when someone asks what you do? What do you say when you hand out your business card? Come up with something that fits your personality, something that can make an impression. Then all you have to do is start finding more people to whom you can give your card.
Maybe the next person doesn't necessarily need a new living room. Maybe they're not quite interested in the furniture business. But once you establish a little rapport, get them to be your friends, and after you find out what they do, you might just say, "Do you have any friends or relatives that would be happy owning furnishings from our store? I'd appreciate it if you could refer me this is how I earn my living."
Most times you will get a name. Probably they will give you one just to get you off their backs. But hey, you might just get a great lead. A super contact. Someone else to give your business card to. And it goes on from there.
Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative Selling®, a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies for high-ticket retailers. His sales meetings and seminars are presented worldwide to major companies and industries. If you'd like to read all the ways to use your business card to actually create more business, just go into Border's, Barnes & Noble, or any local bookstore and ask for Here's My Card. or access Amazon.com.Questions on any aspect of sales education can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD at email@example.com.