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11 Reasons Business Cards Can Be Considered One of Your Most Important Marketing Tools

11 Reasons Business Cards Can Be Considered One of Your Most Important Marketing Tools

When we think of business networking, we think of mixers with well-tailored suits, lots of hand-shaking, and repeatedly introducing who we are, our roles, and the experience we have. But that’s only one form of networking. The chances are higher that you won’t be able to shake hands with every potential client or investor. Even if you do get to rub elbows with the right people, they hear a lot of the same things throughout the duration of a networking event. When you network, the goal is to stand out and leave a lasting impression. A little known fact is that one of the best ways to make and leave a lasting impression is by using a business card. Below are the reasons why business cards might be one of the strongest marketing tools you have.

1. It creates a first and lasting impression

Handing someone a business card while you introduce yourself and your company will help generate an opinion of you[1]. Even if they forget you and whatever information you shared (which happens a lot), they’ll have the actual card so that they can contact you again. Leaving someone with a tangible means to get into communication with you is much more effective than saying a name and hoping it sticks.

2. They’re always working

Once you pass your card to someone, client or not, you’ve established a connection. With a strong business card, you will be able to operate in another form of marketing: word of mouth. By sharing your card with one person, they can then share it with someone else who may be in need of your services.

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3. You’ll look professional

When selling your ideas and business, it helps if you have proof of your own commitment and pride in what you do for a living. Some potential customers will expect you to have one and will ask you for one before you can finish saying your name. Business cards are also a sign of preparedness. Note that for every business card you receive, you should be able to give one in return.

4. They’re affordable

Unlike stationary billboards and posters, business cards offer self-promotion that won’t break the bank[2]. For less than the cost of a large pizza or a morning latte, you can get about 100 business cards. Yes, it will cost more if you change some basic elements (like the quality of the paper, color, or add other unique designs), but if you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to.

5. They’re small but mighty

Because of their size, you can hand out a business card to almost anyone at any time. There is no need to direct people to a specific site. Having pocket or wallet-sized business cards means you can take your marketing efforts further and in real-time. It’s like a quick summary of your business and company profile all on a palm-sized card.

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6. No tech problems

Pretty much everything is digital these days. From dating to grocery shopping, there is a lot you can do online or via a smartphone. Marketing is certainly done digitally, but the web is saturated with so much content that a simple “go check out my site” isn’t going to be effective. And unlike websites or data connections, business cards don’t go down[3]because of server issues.

7. Display your creativity

Regardless of what field you’re in or trying to market to, your business card should be a unique expression of your company. You’re selling yourself amongst thousands of others, so you need to stand out. This is where the design elements come into play. Having an aesthetic that is consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts is key. Additionally, consider the fact that the format, color, and the material of the actual card can be used as a conversation starter.

8. They speak for you through others

If you can’t make it to a marketing event, you might be able to get one of your strongest employees to go in your place and act as a representative. But it’s not enough to just send a person in your place. That is where the business card comes in handy. If you have an excellent design, then that will reflect in your employee as they network for you. You’ll also be instilling trust by allowing someone else to represent you and your company, which is an added bonus.

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9. They’re convenient because they’re multi-platform

Nowadays, networking events can happen either in real-time meeting rooms or in digital format. Whether it’s a swanky cocktail hour or a video call, you need to be able to have something other than yourself to represent your brand. You must be able to adapt in your marketing technique. By using a business card, either digitally or printed, you’ll have access to a wider audience.

10. They’re quick

If you’re at a mixer with 50 or so other like-minded individuals who are also trying to get noticed, the target audience won’t have time to sit down with each of you. They might not even want to do that. Business cards capitalize on the little time you do have to make an impression and share your information with the people you are trying to make connections with in a limited space of time.[4]

11. They work

This is the most important reason to have business cards. They can be a marketing representation for practically any business, from restaurants to tire shops. And they help generate new business while also helping with retaining loyal customers.

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Featured photo credit: graphicsfuel.com via graphicsfuel.com

Reference

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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