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I actually found that card hard to follow on first glance. It would've found it's way into my trash.

I have a friend and business mentor who (like me) used regular sized/shaped business cards (one of which went into every order he shipped out). One day while we were talking in his office we were interrupted by a guy selling something he didn't need or want.

After being turned down the guy insisted on giving my friend his card even after being told "no" repeatedly.

Finally my friend took the proffered card and, as the guy walked out the door, threw the card in the trash.

Here's a piece I did on the business cards I used to use:

Business cards as advertising
Guerrilla marketing tips for entrepreneurs without an advertising budget.

Here are a few things the books on advertising don't tell you because Madison Avenue admen don't get paid for writing business cards.

Business cards are the best-kept advertising secret in business. Business cards are the most effective form of advertising when passed on by one of your customers (word of mouth), cheapest (cost per insertion) and longest lasting (check your wallet) form of advertising for a business.

Go to the office supply store and buy a few of those little clear plastic counter top business card holders. Ask non-competing stores - who have the type of customers likely to buy from you - to let you put one holder of your cards by their cash register and offer to put one full of their cards next to your cash register.

Not all businesses have room for the little plastic stands near their register so have a small rubber banded (loose cards tend to get lost) stack of your cards in your pocket to add to the pile in case your cards need to be elbowed in with a bunch of others. Don't forget to drop by from time to time to maintain contact with your business card partner and top off your cardholder.

Whatever you do don't just walk in drop a stack of cards on the counter and leave. I'm a retired businessman, my counter space was precious (last second impulse sales) so whenever I found a stack of unauthorized cards on my countertop they'd go straight into the trash. Many other business people feel the same way so take the time to get permission. You're building a long-term relationship here so take the time to establish rapport with the store's owner or manager.

The largest independent insurance agency in my town sends people around every year to ask permission to put clear plastic business card holders - full of his business cards with calendars on the back - on sales counters all over town. I see them everywhere at the beginning of ever year. He doesn't follow through though, so when his cards run out I refill his holders with my business cards.

Not everyone realizes how inexpensive and effective this form of advertising is. I do business card exchanges with several other entrepreneurs on my side of town. I try to do business card exchanges with two other entrepreneurs whose customer bases dovetail into mine. You'd think they'd be glad to send customers on to a non-competitor and receive customers in return, but getting them to pony up a few bucks to print cards for their own business is like pulling teeth.

One is always so "low on cards" he "can't let go of any right now." This guy, who never has enough of his own business cards to give out, even to his own customers, has a business card holder full of that big independent insurance agency's business cards right by his register and doesn't see the irony.

The other entrepreneur, I'm sure, bought 500 business cards back in 1972 and plans to make them last forever. In her ideal world she'd give out the last card on the day she dies.

I had eight business cards. One was for exchanging with other business people and professionals. It has my name, our business name and address and our phone/fax number on the front. (If you have a web site or public email address you'll want to put it on there too.) The back of my professional card was left blank so people could write notes about why they wanted to remember me on the other side of my contact information delivery vehicle.

My other seven business cards were wallet ads for my customers and potential customers to carry around with them. Beginning around November (and continuing until they run out, usually in February) one side of one of my cards was the new year's calendar. The other six cards are on the counter all year and have a provocative quote on one side. The other side was a mini-billboard with the business name, address and phone number; listing the goods and services we provided.

All of the non-professional business cards are displayed in those little clear plastic business cardholders (some I bought and some were 'gifts' over the years from that big independent insurance company) with the provocative quotes showing.

I didn't care if people took a card because they wanted to remember our address or because they wanted to remember the quote or because they want to scribble somebody's phone number in the margin; I just wanted them to take a card!

A Few Final Hints
I recently bought the book TRACKER by Joel Hardin and was delighted to find the book had been autographed by the author AND had one of his business cards tucked inside as sort of a handy book marker. Since Mr. Hardin is actively selling his services this little advertisement is a way to publicize his availability long after he's had a book signing.

Authors aren't the only ones who can benefit from business cards tucked in their merchandise. A wholesaler friend of mine, Alton, used to put a business card in with every order he sent out. Sure most of them probably got thrown away, but the few times when one of his customers wanted to share information on where they got a certain product one of Alton's cards was likely right at hand.

Here in Texas and in most other states they have mandatory classes for concealed handgun carry. The most obvious place for instructors to advertise their classes are gun stores and the local rod & gun club. Our Rod & Gun Club has several stacks of business cards for Concealed Handgun License (CHL) classes by various instructors. They range from actual professionally printed business cards to Avery micro perforated cards printed on home computers to sheets of photocopied cards cut apart with scissors.

Right next to the stack of CHL cards are a couple of bundles of cards from (state mandated) Hunter Safety Course instructors. These dedicated instructors don't clear enough from the state set fee to pay for professional cards so theirs are all hand trimmed photocopies.

I don't' waste advertising money on embossing, nonstandard shapes and sizes or several colors of ink. Nonstandard shapes and sizes don't fit in where people keep business cards and thus tend to get lost. Instead of expensive extras choose a colored card stock - which makes your cards stand out in a stack of white cards - and a single ink color. It's the message that's important here, not the medium. Use the money you save by not paying for all those extras to print more cards.

The large independent insurance company I spoke of uses the shotgun approach to spread their business cards around since just about everyone needs some kind of insurance sooner or later. An emerging entrepreneur would do better to target potential customer groups with rifle-like accuracy. Florists, for example, would want to exchange business cards touting their corsages with bridal dress stores and tuxedo rental shops. Since both non-competing businesses share a common customer base both benefit from the exchange.

I recently ran across a new guerrilla marketing trick while on my daily walk. A small time entrepreneur had placed a teaspoon of pea gravel and a business card in a cheap sandwich bag then tied them up and driven around the neighborhood tossing the weighted business cards onto people's lawns.

This guerrilla marketing trick would work well for anyone providing goods or services to households; plumbers, electricians, lawn care, home repair/remodeling, chimney sweeps, in the fall and air conditioning specialists in the spring.

Sure most business cards get lost or thrown away, but some survive to remind customers of your goods and services or, better yet, get passed on to a customer's friend. Remember word of mouth is the most effective advertising you can get! That dandelion on your lawn produces lots of seeds. Most of those seeds don't make it to germination, but have you ever had a shortage of dandelions in your lawn?

Spread your business cards around like grass seed (the cost is about the same) and watch your business grow like a weed.

The question you have to ask yourself is: "How many business cards would I have to buy - and throw away - to equal the profit on just one sale?
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