On today’s show we’re going to talk about how many people in business are confusing their customers with their business cards. In particular, I’m talking about real estate investors. 

I was sitting with a client today having an intellectual conversation about what should be on a business card. So I reached into my briefcase and pulled out a stack of business cards that I’ve received over the past couple of weeks at various events. 

I laid out the cards in an array on the table and asked my clients to rate the cards in terms of communicating a clear message to the person holding the card.

There must have been about 20 cards in total.

I asked my clients to rate the cards simply on the basis of whether they would want to initiate a follow-up phone call purely on the strength of the business card.

These cards were chosen totally at random. Out of all the cards, only one of them was for a globally recognized brand. The Vice President from Goldman Sachs got a high rating on the clarity of his card, mostly on the strength of the Goldman Sachs brand. 

Half of the cards had no clear marking of the geographic location of the person or their business. While the geographic location of a business isn’t as important as it once was, we didn’t even know what country the business was located in. One business card said that the person was the new york regional manager, but listed new orleans, Louisiana as a physical address. That was confusing.

From there, we saw numerous inconsistencies other on the cards. In some cases, the company name didn’t match the domain name for the website, and the email address didn’t match the domain name for the company. If your card is using a free email service like hotmail, you’re sending a message to your potential customers that you’re not serious about being in business. You’re saying that you can’t afford the $6 per month to have a properly hosted email service. 

Many of the business cards had corporate tag lines that were next to the company name. 

I’m going to share some of the tag lines with you, but not the company names. I’m not here to embarrass anyone, but to highlight how confusing some of the tag lines are. It’s been said that a confused mind doesn’t buy. So if you are confusing your customers at the point of introduction with your business card, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. 

Out of all the cards, only one stood out as being really worth calling the next day. The prize goes to a syndication attorney who told the potential customer clearly what they did. 

It spoke directly to the target customer. The business card said clearly who the target customer was. It triggered a positive response from the recipient of the card.

In some cases the name of the business states clearly what the business does. One of the common naming conventions for a company is to combine a distinctive term with a descriptive term. For example “Al’s Barber Shop” has the distinctive term “Al” and the descriptive term barber shop. You can tell from the name that Al is probably the owner and that’s where you will probably go for a haircut. 

One company simply had a 4 letter company name. They were all consonants and no vowels. I’m guessing that the 4 letters had some meaning, but it was really unclear on what it could be. 

After that, it got difficult to figure out what the companies did. 

The goal is for the holder of the card to say “I need that”. Get me more of what’s on that card. One card was divided in half. On the top half, the person listed their software development business. The bottom half was in a different colour and listed their family owned restaurant. When you confuse people about what you do, they choose neither.