Here’s my card…

Picture courtesy of Pakorn at

Be honest, what do you do with the dozens (hundreds?) of business cards you receive in a year? Become a customer? Bin them? Put them in a box? Or do something constructive with them (by which I do not mean build a house of cards on your desk in a quiet moment)?

One of my favourite novels is American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, a biting satire on greed and consumerism. In one scene the protagonist, Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street executive, and his yuppie cronies are comparing business cards, each trying to out-do the other with typefaces, embossing and the shade of white card their printer has used.

Apart from their obsession with such trivia, the joke is that the cards – like the faceless stockbrokers themselves – are indistinguishable from one another and only demonstrate their self-interest.

(See a clip from the excellent movie version, starring Christian Bale, on YouTube at

But the thing that the executives in the Pierce and Pierce boardroom are missing is this:

Unlike Christmas, the joy of business cards is not in the giving, it’s in the receiving.

By giving you their business card, the person you met has given you something extremely valuable – an invitation to start a conversation – not just to use their services but to tell them more about your own.

Give them something back in return and time and time again you’ll be able to demonstrate your expertise and promote your services – and get to know them better. Then, this may happen:

1 They will use your services or buy your products, or
2 They won’t, but they’ll recommend you to a friend, colleague or associate who need what you offer.

In other words they will become a customer or an advocate.

Many people on this Secret Agent Marketing e-list began as a person we met who gave us their card and permission to contact them again. Maybe you are one of them?

If you would like to know how to build your marketing list, come to my talk about marketing at Wiltshire Business Club on Thursday, May 17. Information and booking can be found at

Or even better, Agent Louisa and I will be running a Marketing for Beginners course in Marlborough on Tuesday, May 29. For more information, or to book a place, go to

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