I’m Bigger Than My Business Card

Financial Aid Podcast owner, Chris PennI think everyone should have a business card. And of course, your business card should communicate what it needs to concisely and effectively.

But a business card can also be a teaser. After all, I’m a lot more interesting than the few square inches, and perhaps 5 clever words. I want YOU to get to know ME, and what you see on my business card is an early-stage introduction. What if a business card could convey more?

It can’t, but it can take you to the next stage – what about the Virtual Business Card? It’s nothing more than a website to let others learn more about you. Check out what Chris (Christopher) Penn is doing. I love it… and I’ll pick it apart here:

1. First thing that jumps out at me is the mug shot that Chris put up. Don’t you hate getting dozens of business cards and then trying to remember WHO is WHO??

Chris Penn - nice guy :)

2. The introductory paragraph explains what this page is all about, puts in the personality, and let’s you know that there is a lot more interesting about Chris than you got on his business card.

Intro Paragraph to Virtual Business Card

3. The next section has titles with LINKS… Chris makes it uber-easy to learn about him because you just have to click to learn more.

employment history with links

4. The next section has a bunch of contact options. I don’t know how accessible Chris really is, but at least he feels accessible.

Contacting Chris Penn

5. The last section has all the links that he thinks is important so you can learn about what he does. It’s a lot… so I’m glad that he didn’t put any descriptions or anything… it would make this page, imho, a little too busy.

Websites that Chris operates or is involved in

One reasons I love this is because he takes me exactly where he wants me to go, instead of leaving it up to Google to define his personal brand… smart, eh?

Excellent Chris – thanks for the example! (thanks to Dan Johnson for pointing me to this)

Want more on business cards? Penelope Trunk recently wrote What to write to make your business card sing, and points us to a ton of artistic examples at Daily Poetics – “Art of the Business Card” (very cool stuff).

20 thoughts on “I’m Bigger Than My Business Card”

  1. I like the idea, but for a business card, or for any promotion piece for that matter, to be successful you have to have focus. Christopher Penn does a lot, but what is he great out, what is he known for? The list of positions is great, but with no tagline, how am I supposed to know what the point is? This seems like something in between a business card and resume and doesn’t give you much knowledge or any lasting impression.

  2. This is very smart. The picture comment is the best though because in order to highlight your brand, your appearance comes first and what better way to display that element than on your business card.

    I actually just ordered business cards with this information on it. Timely post.

    Dan Schawbel
    Publisher – Personal Branding Magazine

  3. If you have to ask which brand it’s promoting, then you’re not using business cards correctly. Business cards are bookmarks, mental reminders of someone you met. If you’re using them solely as advertisements, then it shouldn’t be a personal card at all – just a very small ad. The real establishment of brand and personal identity is in the face to face interaction between you and the other person, and who or what you promote will be linked back via the card.

    Think of a business card as almost a trackback – it’s NOT the blog post, merely the way back to it. If your blog post is content-free, then your card won’t help much.

  4. Chris, some of this argument is semantics. Based upon your premise of it being a tickler, it still has to strike a chord and create an action by the part of the receiver of your card. Since most people fail to understand the importance of follow-up on their part, they rely on the business card being the ‘advertisement’ and hoping the recipient picks it up a week later and remembers why they have it. The masters of the game, some of them don’t even even have business cards. They collect business cards by offering to provide something of value and stay in control of collecting names/urls and they follow up to further the relationship and ultimately convert the prospects.

    As for branding, a business card is part of an overarching marketing presence and however which way you drive business to your door the message must be the same on all your methods of delivery whether print or web. Yes, who you are is more than five words, but quite frankly, when I went to your website it took me too long to figure out what you do and whether or not I need your services. We live in an age of ‘bites’ of information and if you can’t make a statement that encourages me to read further, I won’t.

    These are the realities. And all these ‘tools’ are meant to draw people in to create relationships. You have to know what draws people in and then capitalize on it. Just my considered .02

  5. I will only comment on the “mugshot”.

    Only real estate sales people put their pictures on their cards. Why? Who knows. They all do it. It’s tacky. Tacky. TACKY! Whenever I see a picture on a business card I think “real estate sales person”. Ranks right up there with being compared to a used car sales person. I never see anyone else, not even used car sales people, putting their pictures on business cards. Sometimes most people are missing a good idea, and sometimes most people have the right idea. I think the photoless business card is the latter.

  6. I have to admit that this is one of those mornings where I thought “cool post, good information, doubt I’ll get any comments.” Thanks for proving me wrong 🙂

    @Rebecca – I agree on the focus, but when I think of Chris I think “all things social media/marketing” and with a strong emphasis in financial aid knowledge. But that’s just me… and to be fair, I really don’t know the dude! However, remember that I would have got his card at a face-to-face networking event, so it’s just a tool to remind me who he is, and I’m thinking all the info that I want to take it to the next level is on that virtual page…

    @Dan – good point, if you put your pic on your card send me one! Can you imagine how the world (business) would be different if everyone had cards with their pictures? I’m not necessarily advocating it but it would have prevented hundreds of cards from my piles of business cards going in the trash.

    @Carl – a card for your dog. You know, if someone would have asked “do you know anyone that would have a business card for their dog?” I would have said “Carl Chapman. He’s just like that :p”

    @Bryan – I do like this kind of landing page… it’s what all the “experts” say to do on internet advertising. Why not from paper to bits-and-bytes?

    @Chris – right… the card is just a tool, a reminder, a tangible. (man, all that blog-correlation really threw me off – I’m a newbie to the blogosphere :p)

    @Susan – interesting, I never really thought about the business card giving/collecting strategy as you’ve outlined it in your post…. and, to your point to Chris, I agree with what you are saying but think that this is most effective after having some kind of conversation with him… so it’s not the main communication, rather a supplement. And a pretty cool, catchy and probably effective supplement.

    @Name – I think that the picture can work, but obviously some people will walk into it with their own feelings one way or another. However, if I meet someone at an event, we have a nice chat, and I want to build a relationship with this person, a picture on their card isn’t going to turn me off.


    I see a theme in my responses/thoughts… this is a tool, but not the main and only communication. Does the business card that Chris hands out do the job? Does it reinforce his brand? Does it turn people off?

    Does the fact that he is “younger” have anything to do with this?

    Again, I can’t believe we got this many comments (and a few offshoot posts) about … business cards! Pretty cool 🙂

  7. Chris is doing a good job at trying to stand out from the crowd using everything at his fingertips. I don’t know that he’s doing all that he can, but he’s doing a lot more than most of us!

    Given the inexpensive nature of flash memory, and LCD/LED/OLED technologies how far off can 30 second video cards be? Get a chance to introduce yourself *as* yourself.


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