Rethinking business cards

"I think how we market ourselves deserves to be re-examined. Marketing is about getting noticed, in a good way. Traditional marketing is no longer effective; people rely on it only because it's familiar," wrote Ernie the Attorney, a/k/a Ernest Svenson of New Orleans.   Right on, brother.

Picture_6The issue came up because he had just made up new business cards. He decided to make them different.

"A few years ago, when I was still working for the large law firm, I jokingly had some 'Ernie the Attorney' cards made. Whenever I ran into people who knew me from this blog I gave them this card on the left (click on it to enlarge it). The black & white photo is what used to appear on the banner of this weblog, so it was sort of a 'branding' thing."

"People loved the card, and always made a big deal about it. They wanted to know where the picture was taken (the Metro in Paris) and if I had taken it (yes). It seemed like the card had 'special powers' because it always created a small buzz. Soon I started giving these cards to everyone, even folks who didn't know I had a blog. Same result."

Picture_9"When I started my solo practice, I still felt obliged to have traditional business cards. I couldn't say why exactly. I thought maybe for when I needed to give contact information to, say, a court reporter. This card here (pictured left) is the result: it had my phone number, email address, physical address, fax number and so forth. And I think we can agree that it's pretty dull."

"I found that if I gave my 'Ernie the Attorney' card to one person in a group and my business card to another person, the latter would feel cheated and ask me if they could have one of the 'special cards.'

Picture_5Recently he updated his blog design with a photo of the skyline of New Orleans. He decided to use the same photo for his business cards.

"I decided to re-examine the whole business card concept. What exactly do I want my business card to do? First, I want it to be cool enough that people still find it interesting when I give it to them. That's the most important thing. And it would be best if I present the same 'brand image' as my websites."

Frankly, if people want to find me all they have to do is Google 'ernie attorney' or 'ernest svenson' and they'll find all the information they need. Even if I didn't have a business card, it would be easy for people to contact me if they wanted to. My business card should encourage them to contact me, and I've learned that traditional business cards don't do much in the way of 'encouraging.'

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Business Card Translation - July 2, 2008 2:15 PM

I do whatever I can in order to make my business card stand out. For starters, I round the edges of my card, it doesn't cost that much more. Next I try to make sure the size is slightly different than other business cards, to make it stand out.

Full color cards are pennies these days and almost any printer can produce them at a competitive cost.

Mike - November 10, 2008 11:22 PM

Another option is a service like TextID--a recently launched novel way to help people communicate with customers, colleagues and friends—WITHOUT paper. TextID allows users to purchase unique text “domains”, such as their names or businesses that allows them to pass along contact information and messages quickly and conveniently. They can give out their ID, lawn care or Angie for example, and the recipient texts that name to 555411. In just a few moments, they will receive a text back to their phones with contact information and the message the TextID member has chosen, which can also include a pdf file or brochure.

Obviously the new service has a wide range of applications, from personal to commercial. Whether for realtors looking to get pricing and home information into a potential buyer’s hand while they are out looking for a home, a hip teacher providing up-to-date assignment and test information, a restaurant passing on weekly specials, a club promoter pushing the weekend band, or someone just looking to make the dating scene a bit easier, Text ID works great for a variety of users.

Check it out at

Business Card Translation - September 2, 2009 2:20 PM

It's important to create a business card that's different, but not too outlandish. Having your business card translated into Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc., is a great way to get a conversation started without requiring too much effort. Really makes a nice first impression.

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