Your business card is not an ad

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Work boots are like soccer shoes in the sense that they both provide a protective covering for your feet. But if you play soccer or work in a steel plant, they are anything but interchangeable.

Your marketing materials are purpose built in the same way. A brochure isn’t interchangeable with a frequent buyer’s card any more than work boots are interchangeable with soccer cleats.

People who run their own small businesses are hard-working and busy. They typically seek to leverage time and money by applying one solution to as many problems as possible.

Many publications take advantage of that tendency by creating ads that are the same size as a standard business card. Business owners don’t have to think or spend to design an ad, and the publication gets a quick signature on a contract.

But just because it’s cheap and easy doesn’t mean it’s smart. In fact, it’s usually a waste of money. Business cards and advertisements are simply designed for different work.

The job of business cards is to make it easy for people to reach you. And that’s all they do. They work because you hand them out to people who have already expressed an interest in being able to contact you.

On the other hand, the job of an advertisement is to help people decide if they’re interested in what you do. It has to tell people what you do – and why you do it better or differently than others. It has to provide some call to action. It also may need to include a coupon or special offer of some kind to allow you to track results. And, of course, it must include at least a few critical bits of contact information.

If you plan to advertise, spend time thinking about how your ad must differ from your business card in order to really sell your product or service. If you’re not able to make that commitment, then find another way to invest in your business.

Because running a business card as an ad probably won’t generate results. But it will indicate that you ‘re someone who thinks it’s a good idea to play soccer in work boots.

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/


About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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