An unexpected social trick I learned running out of business cards at the worst time

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone

Shit happens. I was on the eve of an important conference. I had spend good money, out of my own pocket, to purchase a ticket, travel and accommodation. But I had no business cards left. Yet I had no intention of going empty handed.

Let’s step back for a second. I’m a  business card freak. I’ve been designing my own  business cards for years now and I had no idea that what I was about to do would change the way I look at  business cards forever. This story starts from a startup, Moo. They offer you to have a different graphic on each card at no extra cost. Order 50 cards, you can have 50 unique cards.

story1

So I started to create cards with different backgrounds. To create these backgrounds I used the logo of my company,but also photos that I took during my travels. Like these cool textures of the soil in Iceland, or this funky arch in the desert of Tunisia.

Would Moo be a good option for my “ran out cards” emergency? Not really.

Ordering times would not allow me to have  business cards on time. I had to find a solution. All I had was a laser printer. Should I simply find some cardboard and print some black and white cards?

Looking for ideas I discovered laying around my office some cool materials from the covers of promotional notebooks and folders, plus some printable sheets of labels that I could use.

I combined these funky materials with a neat print of my basic data and my first home made batch of  business cards came to life.

story2

Creative solution, yes. But no big deal in terms of design. In fact the insight that I learned is not that I could easily use older marketing materials to create some jaggedly shaped cards. What I got is an insight I was not expecting.

To understand this insight I must tell you how I hand out my  business cards: by offering a choice. The gesture that I’ve started to use since my first Moo cards is to open them like a fan, like it’s a deck of cards, showing only the back accompanied by the (cheesy) line “Please, take your pick.”

Sometimes when I encounter a bit of hesitation I also add “If you don’t like it, you can also give it back.”

story3

My previous set of cards already made a fun game. But I didn’t realize that these new cards had a hidden power. They could help me understand who I had in front of me.

I think it started with this trans-lucid white plastic that I found on the back of a notebook, probably from Mediacom.

story4

This kind of material – I realized – is like catnip for designers. Every person that deals with images in their life would choose this card over any other. Maybe it’s the simplicity, the lack of color, but if I had in front a designer they would go straight for this card.

Soon thereafter I discovered another magnetic effect. This time related to a very similar translucent cards. But this time a greenish one.

story5

Looks a little bit like a printed circuit doesn’t it? Well this card was pure gold for techies, programmers, engineers, hackers or other assorted geeks. They would immediately chose this one like it screamed their name.

At this point I knew that I was on to something. I don’t meet a lot of finance or real estate people. But guess who went instinctively for the silver and the gold cards? Yes, their soul was perfectly identified by these luscious materials.

story6

By the way the golden card comes from a cardboard edition of the poster of Sex and the City 2. HBO please don’t sue.

I had a batch of pink cards. None is left. I meet a lot of funky girls and a bunch of LGBT or just friendly people. Those pink cards are in their pockets.

A lot of friends and acquaintances liked the dark blue cards. Probably they were attracted by the simplicity and straightforwardness of the back. Nobody specific liked the gray version with the rivets that stick out, even though it’s one of my favorites of this batch. It comes from a WB’s Sherlock Holmes by the way.

story7

At a later stage I got a bit carried away. This is a batch made out of playing cards with a religiously themed Giotto paining on one side. On each card I either cut the angel or the pastor, kinda of small blasphemy.

story9

I mostly enjoyed using my own old marketing materials. These are bookmarks that I made, for a hefty cost, a few years ago. They were advertising an ebook and I still have stacks of them. They make great  business cards in my opinion.

story8

On this journey of business cards creativity I did not always succeed. My biggest failure is the business card of the (failed) project trailerflow. I designed the heck out of these cards. They are totally personalized, themed and have a custom front that features who the card is for. For investors, for friends, for the press. It took me countless hours to create these cards and the end result is that I made a few friends happy, but thy never elicited the wow of any of the other series of cards I created.

Plus they make you clumsly. Instead of letting the other person choose what card they want, you have to find the right card for them: who are you? a Hacker? let me get you the hacker cards. Damn, I’m out, do you mind having the press one instead. Facepalm.

story10

After playing with all these options I realized that what counted the most was the game.

I mean, it’s cool to profile the person in front of you with the choice of materials of your card. And I invite you to do it. It’s a fun social game that anyone can play. But I want my card to be used by the person I give it to. I want it to embody my personality, my brand, my ways. I want it to stand out when they pick it up a week later. I want them to see it and remember me and what I stand for. So I went back to photos of myself, and back to professional printing at Moo.

Thanks to my colleague and photographer friend Livia Patta I got the first good portraits of my life. I have been very proud of these cards.

story11

A few years ago I made some additions to my look and I used the chance to get into Stefano Corso’s studio to get some really great professional shots. The result is the current deck of cards.

story12

Is this journey complete? Not really. I changed look again. So I need a new batch of photos and some new cards.

What I am sure about is that I will continue for a long time to make this gesture, to invite the person in front of me to take their pick, to make the exchange of cards a fun social moment rather than an awkward exchange of vestiges of the past. And I will not do it do get a glimpse for their psychology, I will do it to tell a story, to leave an impression, to make them feel that even the most ordinary moment, can feel special.

story13

Since you’re here and I can’t really hand you a card, why don’t we meet on twitter? I’m @matteoc.

Become a better presenter today!
Get exclusive presentation tips and techniques directly in your inbox courtesy of PRESENTATION HERO!
Presentation Hero will never, ever spam you. We respect your data in the best possible way.
Download PDF
Enter your email below to instantly download the pdf file of From Consulting to Productising - Follow the money... and the meaning. You will also be subscribed to a low traffic email list about presentations.
preview cover.001
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Become a Better Presenter. Today!
Every two weeks you will receive a personal, insightful email on presentations from me personally.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Get all the cards now!
You will receive all the cards via email for free. You will also signup to a low traffic email list.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Want more presentation tips and techniques?
Sign up to Presentation Hero right now!
Every two weeks you will receive a personal, insightful email on presentations from me personally.
These emails will include: presentation tips & advice, free exclusive videos, invite only webinars, bonus content, special deals & discounts on Presentation Hero training and much more!
Did I mention it's completely free?
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Learn how to storytell like a pro!
Signup below to instantly receive the Presentation Storytelling Toolbox totally free!
  • A powerful blueprint useful for any presentation
  • Flexible tools to craft your story like a pro
  • A full video explanation, like a mini course
  • The whole theory in an easy to follow presentation
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
DOWNLOAD FREE CHECKLIST!
Learn how to best answer the 16 key questions you must answer when you prepare a talk or a presentation.
* We hate spam and never share your details.
BECOME A PRESENTATION HERO!
hero presentation
Download and keep all the shortcuts!
Signup below to instantly receive the definitive presentation cheat sheet
  • Mac and Pc tips, tricks & shortcuts
  • Use the most useful & advanced features of PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Print this pdf & keep it handy while presenting
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
hero presentation
Download the routine that will save you from fear of public speaking
Enter your email below to instantly receive the 15 things to do 15 minutes before an important presentation
  • 15 simple gestures & habits that can help you count down to your next presentation with less anxiety and better preparedness.
  • Keep and print this checklist. Have it handy next time your presenting
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
hero presentation
Download the extended post!
Signup below to instantly receive the extended edition of the guide to the bird's eye view in Prezi
  • More examples
  • Better explanation of the cinematic technique
  • Save and keep the full post in PDF
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
hero presentation
Download KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Enter your email below to instantly receive the slides of the first lesson of the Presentation Hero Training for free
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Besides instantly getting the slides you will be signing up to a low traffic mailing list focused strictly on presentations and public speaking. You will receive an informative email every few weeks.
ENTER YOUR EMAIL!
Enter your email below to instantly receive your content.
We hate spam and never share your details.
hero presentation
Download the presentation
Enter your email below to instantly receive the slides of "How to survive the digital world in 2015" for free
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Besides instantly getting the slides you will be signing up to a low traffic mailing list focused strictly on presentations and public speaking. You will receive an informative email every few weeks.
hero presentation
Download the Prezi Quick Reference
Enter your email below to instantly receive a quick reference sheet dedicated to "Transitions in Prezi" for free
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Besides instantly getting your quick reference sheet you will be signing up to a low traffic mailing list focused strictly on presentations and public speaking. You will receive an informative email every few weeks.
hero presentation
Download S#!T PRESENTERS SAY
Enter your email below to instantly receive the slides of "S#!t Presenters Say - 15 things presenters should (really) stop saying" for free
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Besides instantly getting the slides you will be signing up to a low traffic mailing list focused strictly on presentations and public speaking. You will receive an informative email every few weeks.
hero presentation
Get the definitive presentation cheat sheet
Signup below to instantly receive the best presentation shortcuts and tricks
  • Mac and Pc tips, tricks & shortcuts
  • Use the most useful & advanced features of PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Print this pdf & keep it handy while presenting
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
hero presentation
Besides instantly getting the slides you will be signing up to a low traffic mailing list focused strictly on presentations and public speaking.
Download 10 Presentation Tips in Under 10 Minutes
Enter your email below to instantly receive the slides of 10 Presentation Tips in Under 10 Minutes
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.