Brochures and Business Cards – Bah Humbug!

business card“Sir, what should I do with this old stack of business cards?” I asked, busying myself with the contents of my desk.

“Well Watson, unless you have a plan to engage the people whose information you acquired I would suggest tossing them in the nearest trash receptacle,” The Effective Detective replied, not even bothering to look up from what he was examining.

“Toss them sir? Surely not! I may need to contact these people some day, how could I do so without this reference?” I objected.

“So, Watson, can you tell me where you met these people, and what each one of them does?” The Detective looked up and glanced over at me with his eyebrow arched up.

I realized I had been tricked into a taking the discussion in a direction I had not intended. I had two choices, rebel, or allow the conversation to flow in the direction The Detective was leading. Being confrontation adverse, I chose the latter.

“I’m afraid you have caught me unprepared there, sir,” I said, giving him his opening.

“Quite Watson. Do not despair Watson, you are a member of a large club. Almost no one , even those of a technological bent that scan business cards into their computers, actually do any meaningful follow-up. Any follow-up will be typically with those they actually engaged with. People they would have contacted anyway, with or without a business card.

“I’m afraid that business cards and brochures are among those “marketing tools” that have been dreadfully oversold to the small business community. With the possible exception of artists and designers, who can use a card almost as a micro portfolio, the vast majority of small businesses waste time and energy fretting over their business card designs,” The Detective paused briefly here, and recovering, I decided to interject.

“But sir, surely you are not suggesting that a person have no cards,” I stated, more than asked.

” Heavens no Watson! There is one quite valuable aspect of a business card. It tells the receiver of one that you are for real. Just as using a Gmail address for your business email address (even if you have a website), rightly or wrongly may give someone the impression that you aren’t a real business, so not having a business card implies something about you. My point is  simply that a business card is not an effective form of marketing; anecdotal stories of amazing connections being made because someone was smitten with a card, aside. They are needed and must be done professionally, but agonizing over a design is a waste of time and energy,” The Detective responded.

“And brochures sir?” I asked, remembering The Detective had mentioned those as well.

“Brochures end up in one of two places, Watson. A trash receptacle, or a file folder along with your competition, to be pulled out at a later date so that the buyer can price compare. Not how I wish to market my business thank you. Brochures, like business cards, can help make you real in someone’s eyes – although I believe the business card is sufficient, but little else; with two exceptions of course,” The Detective smiled.

“And those would be?” I asked, taking the bait.

“First, artists, once again, using a brochure as a mini portfolio, and second, using a brochure as an integral part of a direct mail campaign,” The Detective answered succinctly.

“But what about this collection of cards I have?” I asked trying to bring the subject back to my original question.

“That is for another discussion, Watson,” said The Detective, turning his attention back to his work.

I love comments good and bad! Let me know what you think!