Tag Archives: Mark Twain

Business Cards and Shameless Self-Promotion

Did Hunter S. Thompson have a business card? All I know for sure is that he was a card carrying member of the NRA. I’m sure he had a card from Rolling Stone or Playboy, and no doubt passed them out liberally as a way to procure the requirements of his unique brand of ‘Gonzo Journalism’.  Likewise, did Mark Twain have a card? Again, I’m not sure, but we do know that his birth name, Samuel Clemens, was ditched for the more romantic riverboat allusion of his pen name. A lot of writers wrinkled up their noses at the idea of marketing. I have to say I’ve been guilty of that–in spite of the fact that I’ve made my living marketing brands like Coke, Toys ‘R’ Us, Disney and Nintendo.In fact, I have not had a business card for years. How can I be in business then? That’s about to change.I was at a tech conference, Content Marketing World, and people asked for my card. I told them I’m all digital, no need or cards here! Besides, I already had a name badge dangling like a dork sign from my neck. I even saw their eyes drop to the level of my badge and felt what women must feel at having their breasts unceremoniously browsed without a hint of shame. I have to admit that not having a card (or breasts), I feel a little bit like a dog on both counts. My new Content Marketing World friends,  they didn’t believe me and thought I was snubbing them. I wouldn’t have cared, except I liked them. Sure we’ve connected–since they gave me their cards.

It made me think. In the past, I really didn’t want to be found.  I want to be discovered. In this world, that is a bad strategy.

I’ve had cards with all of my job titles on them and my other related sort of business stuff. People have cards made for me when I consult with them much like a company will give you an e-mail address so it appears to be legit. I’ve had lots of cards in my day.
When I first went AWOL from agency-land to  freelance I had a card:

Jeff Walker, Ad Guy
Blah Blah Blah

The designer, Todd Brei in Madison Wisconsin, made this card for me and it got into an award book for interesting logos. When my phone number changed I never changed. That was over a decade ago.

I’ve seen despicable behavior in the name of business cards. I’ve I seen people throw their cards down like it’s the winning hand in a poker game and insult and humiliate an underling just because their card says  VP, or SVP, or a whopping  EVP.  Somebody will be making arguments in the office and when it comes to a head,  throw the card as if it  trumps anything the other person said and squashes their opinion and basically says we’re doing it my way because my card says I’m on top of the card heap.  That kind of behavior is just ridiculous.

That happened to me personally with my friend Piete Blikslager. Our friend George Brumis had started a greeting card business called ‘1 in a Million’. The concept was to create catchy, nicely illustrated greeting cards for birthdays, corporate gifts etc. It would also have a little slot in there for lottery tickets, so for a buck you could give somebody a greeting card and a lottery ticket. They were for sale around Chicago, in catalogs, and at Midway Airport. It grew to where George had to get a printing press and some other things to crank out these cards. Sadly,  greeting card margins suck. Once he got the printing press everything started to cost a lot of money.  He had some extra time and some extra inventory so he called me and our friend Piete to reinvent the shop as an interactive ad agency.

Of course with the printing press we could easily print some business cards for ourselves. Piete got there and he was up he was like Senior Creative Director. Now, Piete has a great resume and has done some amazing work in the ad business. He’s featured on Page One of both Communication Arts and the One Show award annuals. Impressive.  I’ve nothing against him at all as we work well together.

I showed up and picked up my card. Pete looked at my card and saw that I was also Senior Creative Director. A little ego, a little temper–he is also British, bald, about 6’4” and he might like to do things that stimulate his nervous system a  bit. Piete basically saw that we had the same title and went off, yelling and screaming about how somebody’s got to be on the top of the food chain and somebody’s got to make the ultimate decision and be the ultimate authority. George was perplexed, he thought he was writing a title on a business card.  It was a friendship-ending encounter. Or could have been. But I looked at the card  and said, “No problem, really.” I took my card and scribbled on it.

Piete, you’re senior creative director and I’m Se˜nor creative.

Piete started cackling like a baboon. I showed it to George and shoved the card across the table. I had put that Spanish squiggle accent over the N. George was relieved. The greeting card business never got on track, and the printing press became an albatross that sunk even the promising ad business that we started. You might not be able to have two writers with the same title. But I will always be Senor Creative.

I’m getting a business card for Content Carnivores. It’s a business. It needs a card. Since I already have a name it, and I have a name, that leaves the title and any slogan or definition of what I do up for grabs. Now, I can write a thousand words on stories related to business cards. I can come up with the name of a business based on what they do, what URL’s are available, and what keywords will pull relevance in the almighty SERPs. But to boil it all down to a 3.5 x 2-inch slot? It haunts me. Maybe it sounds arrogant to say, ‘Founder’. Or cutesy to just say, ‘Chief Carnivore’. The good news is I have the ‘summary line’ nailed.

Content Carnivores.
Custom, Curated and Community Content in one platform.

I think I’m going with ‘Director of Lost and Found’ as my title. That’s in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, and the fact that he would never have gone with something as blah as ‘President’.