The Bitch Slap: What the HELL Are You Doing?

bad business practicesSit down, please. Step away from the keyboard. If you’re still using Publisher, just stop (for all that’s holy). Take the ink jet business cards out of the manual feed on your $29 printer. If there is a stress ball anywhere in your place of business with your company logo on it, put it in the blender and film it for “Will it Blend?”

What the HELL are you doing?

You position yourself as a professional with words. You tell people what you do and that you’re gosh darn good at it, frankly. Yet you keep doing shit that makes you look like a side show act in a two-penny circus.

Business Card Magnets and Stress Balls – They’re ugly, stupid and a waste of money. Do you really think that when I need a real estate professional I’m going to wander over to the front of my fridge for some divine wisdom? No, I’m not. I’m going to call the realtor who’s a friend. Or a friend of a friend. Or who came on referral somehow. Instead of spending $500 a year on dumb ass magnets that have you staring at me every time I go to grab the spinach from the crisper, why don’t you align yourself with a local charity and make a donation commitment for the next 5 years…ask to be considered for the board. Invest your time where it will do some good and change lives while building the relationships you need to sustain and grow your business. The same goes for stress balls. My dog shreds them in 5 minutes flat and craps blue foam for a week. They are useless and generally end up causing me MORE stress. They’re not cheap, either. Quit wasting money. While my dog loves you at first, he hates you in the end (and with his hind end).

Free Business Cards from VistaPrint or Homemade Cards – G.H.E.T.T.O. That’s all I have to say. Why would I do business with anyone who won’t invest a few dollars in themselves to put forth a professional printed appearance? It’s no different than “free hosting” services that populate your site with ads (and that’s bullshit, too). If you can’t afford $21.99 for some kickass, easy-to-make business cards from a place like Moo, you probably need to go work for someone who’s going to give you business cards. And yeah, I know – who even USES business cards anymore, right? Lots of people and more than you’d think. Pull your head out of your ass and (1) pay to have them designed, and/or (2) go to a site that makes it easy for you to do it yourself. Just STOP doing it yourself and promoting someone else in the process.

Stock Logos: OMFG – Yeah, I need to address this. When designing your own business cards, stop it with the stock logos. Are you a stock company? No, you’re not. If you’re going to own a business, you need your own corporate identity. There are people who do that for a living and it doesn’t have to be expensive (for crying out loud – just ASK ME! I know FAB people!). Your brand is an investment. It says who you are, why you’re different and what people can expect from you. If it doesn’t, it sucks (and you either paid too much or didn’t know what a brand was supposed to do before you paid someone to develop one).

Are there more bullshit business practices I’ve missed? Share with me, monkeys…share. The Redhead wants to know. The bottom line is your business is worth the investment. Stop taking the low road and thinking you can do it all yourself. Go ask Richard Branson if he designed the Virgin logo. I’m bettin’ he says no. Treat yourself like a firm worthy of a professional presence and if you’re a graphic designer, great – but stop trying to be a writer and a web designer. If you’re a web designer, stop trying to be a writer. If you’re a plumber, just get my damn toilet working. Do what YOU do. Leverage others to make you look good getting it done.

59 comments
The Redhead
The Redhead

I just threw up a little bit...How do you say "You're fired" in Spanish?

Matt Heller
Matt Heller

Yes. It was a forest green with too much yellow and not enough black in it, so it came out in a tone that was just off in every way. Not solid and dark enough to be a "strong" color, not clean and bright enough to be a "soft" color. Communicated nothing about the design ethos of the business (a one-man ad agency, of all things).And did I mention it was paired with creamsicle orange . . .?

The Redhead
The Redhead

Oh, hell yes. Thanks for the addition! Muddy green? Bleh...:-P

Matt Heller
Matt Heller

A month late and a dollar short, here's another business card "don't" from a graphic designer:Dark colored paper/printing that floods the back of your card and/or covering the back of your card with as much content as the front.Why? The person you just gave the card to cannot jot any notes down on that business card. Ever. Have you ever cleaned out a wallet flush with cards? And decide which to keep in the wallet? And would you really keep that card with the eggplant purple backside, as opposed to the clean white one?Had a client that insisted on a deep muddy green for both sides . . . complete muck, and the quickest discard by his clients I'd ever seen . . .

ab
ab

is it just me or does everyone else think that it's even more lame to have a domain name and use it for website but then give @hotmail / @aohell / @whateverelse for contact address?

The Redhead
The Redhead

Reminds me of a current fave Crash Test Dummies tune Afternoons & Coffee Spoons: "Some day I'll wear...pajamas in the daytime"Too many people forget to unwrap the package. Great point!

Alysson
Alysson

When I was a kid I used to go WAY above and beyond from a presentation standpoint. Whether it was a book report or a science project, mine always looked awesome. Book reports were always typed, always had presentation folders, included pretty cover sheets, pictures ...the whole 9 yards. It didn't take me long to realize that teachers graded as much on appearance as they did on actual content, even when there was no presentation requirement specified in the assignment. In middle school I once embedded a smartass remark in a report just to see if my teacher actually read the whole thing. It said, "If you're actually reading this sentence, circle it. This is a test. Let's see if you pass. And if you do, I expect to get an 'F' on this paper for having doubted your commitment." I was half hoping to get the paper back with a big red "F" atop the page. It didn't happen.That taught me an important life lesson. You can wrap shit in a pretty package and a lot of people won't bother to look close enough to realize it's shit. Why would a potential client spend more on a suit than they do on marketing? Because an expensive suit makes them appear professional. And all they care about is the appearance of professionalism. Actually BEING professional? That takes too much commitment.They can have the suits that make them look professional. I'd rather BE professional in my PJs. ;)

matthewmeeks
matthewmeeks

I know-who wants to actually look professional these days? I've had potential clients balk at paying $4k for a website when the value of one new client or project for them could mean over $100k, but they don't think it's important to invest in a professional appearance or messaging. Heck, I've seen potential clients who spend more than that on a suit balk at spending a couple thousand on marketing.

Ken Brand
Ken Brand

No way i'm sharing my homemade marketing genius. Everyone will copy me, it's that special.

Alysson
Alysson

Wait, Matt...surely you're not suggesting that people actually take the time to develop a cohesive value proposition. Are you?? I mean...that's just...well, who has time for all that nonsense? That's for people who are...well, ya know...perfeshunals. ;)

Alysson
Alysson

Point of difference, people...point of difference. Everyone has seen the refrigerator magnets. Everyone has seen the stress balls. Everyone has 4,258 pens laying around with logos on them. Do you REALLY think people still pay attention to that shit? No, they don't. Here's how it goes, "Son of a...I need a pen. Where's a pen? Ooh, there's one." And then 12 logo-laden pens later you find one that actually works after having cursed every crappy one that came before it. Marketing dollars well spent, eh? Marketing has evolved past the "whomever repeats their brand slogan and logo the most wins". We've been SO inundated with that nonsense over the years that we psychologically filter the vast majority of it out on a subconscious level. But...but...but, Alysson - what the hell should we do then? Well, STAND OUT, DUMBASS!Do something that sets you apart from your competitors. Do something that sets you apart from EVERYONE. Create a memorable experience, either by what you offer or how you offer it. Love her or hate her, why do you suppose people remember Erika? Because she creates post titles like "The Bitch Slap..." and "Snarketing: More from the Underbelly". She stands out. She stands above. She stands among very few who have the guts to say whatever she wants, whenever she wants and that kind of candor sucks people in like moths to a flame. Carefully consider YOUR point of difference. And then develop and implement a strategy accordingly. Why does Becky's method work? Because it's different. People remember that she didn't just hand them a stale business card. Professionally printed or Ghetto cards on the cheap, a standard business card is likely to get lost in the shuffle of the tens or hundreds of other business cards collected like swag at a networking event. And if you suggest printing business cards that aren't standard size, I'd like to ask you to come a little closer so I can slap you in the mouth. That's just stupid - unless, of course, you want your point of difference to be that you're stupider than everyone else. :)

Ken Brand
Ken Brand

But my homemade cards are colorful, 5 in-fact. Then there's the really cool splash of 3 fonts. And professional head shots cost too much, so I just cropped a picture of me with a tree and traffic in the background. I know, when I cut them to size on the paper-cutter, the blade was a little dull and they're crooked, but I can print a 1,000 for way less.You should see my self-created presentation materials and flyers and such.Awesome post red.

Lisa Nelson
Lisa Nelson

You just gave me the motivation I needed to re-do our bus. cards...they aren't home made Ghetto cards, but talk about BUSY! Way to much going on.

Dawn Lennon
Dawn Lennon

Yep! Look like a pro...feel like a pro...act like a pro...get hired as a pro! Nothing gets attention like a pail of cold water in the face. A great douse!

Erroin Martin
Erroin Martin

The first rule of most successful people is to know what you are not capable of doing and seek someone who does.As for business cards -- Clean and simple is the way. I cannot stand ones that have someone's photo on them and a ton of information. Just your name, address, telephone, and email will do. After we meet you will get a card from me in the real mail, a personal touch that shows you I listened and cared about what you said.Email -- Go out and register a URL. You can then have an email address that says yourname@yourcompany.com. It is that easy. Anything with Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo in the name screams amateur!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm pretty sure *I'M* the one who was snippy & bitchy - and yes, marketing through giving is one of the better tactics for any business person. Nonprofits can simply reverse it - find local affinity and advocacy groups that don't seek donations but rather, where your organization has a compliment :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks, Miss Cherry! Glad you enjoyed :)

Cherry Woodburn
Cherry Woodburn

You gave a wonderful gift Reds. Follows up well with you love post. Cherry

JillianMcCoy
JillianMcCoy

Holy shit. I think we just entered the redhead singularity.Also, at first glance I thought you were replying to yourself.

The Redhead
The Redhead

The pleasure is mine, Justin - enjoy the design talent and I can't wait to see the new cards!

Justin Matthews
Justin Matthews

Wow, I thank you even though my comment was disjointed and the way it came out I deserved the slap. I hit my touchpad on my laptop and posted half a comment trying to defend some part of vistaprint for us just starting out. It didn't work well. And BTW, I did read the post. Anyway I thank you again for helping me bailout my cards that have been stuck from vistaprint and changed when addresses or phone numbers have changed. I was not arguing the fact that they are not the best cards, that is for sure.I do appreciate the gift, my budget is suffering as bad as my design skill. Lots of links coming your way!Thanks again!

redheadranting
redheadranting

Damn, I wished I'd seen this a week ago, I wasted hours designing my own cards. You're right, they look cheap.

The Redhead
The Redhead

The world works in mysterious ways :) You're most CERTAINLY welcome. You and Justin - ENJOY!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Small calendars...OMG, you just brought tears to my eyes. NICE ADD!

matthewmeeks
matthewmeeks

That's a very interesting idea. Might have to try that. There are some pretty cool design possibilities for a minimalistic calling card...

The Redhead
The Redhead

A-freakin' men, Tim. And I would have responded sooner if Disqus felt like emailing me when I have comments held for moderation (a wee bit PO'd right now).

beckyholland
beckyholland

I purposely don't bring business cards to networking events. I have very nice blank old fashioned "calling cards". If I make a connection with someone, I an give them whatever information they find most useful. If they say in our convesation they're on twitter, they get my twitter ID with a little personal one sentence note about me. Same for Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog, etc. I've gone to great lengths to make my addresses simple and easy to remember and most importantly... similar. So if someone finds me on one site (or forgets and googles me) they will be able to find me all over the web.This method also enables me to gracefully get out a pen to jot a note on the back of their card as to why I'd ever want to talk to them again.I find my success rate on follow up conversations (the point of giving out your card to begin with... unless you are really into oragami) has increased by 200% using this method.

Suzanne Vara
Suzanne Vara

ErikaIf I may have the floor ... let's add cheap ass pens, stationery that has a not so good job of ghosting back the logo or your tagline so even I wanted to write on it, I cannot; small calendars that you could never even fit the letter F into a date, um, really anything that is not useful or professional looking. Take pride in what you are putting out there and like you said, ask someone first. If you think that you need a cheap pen that does not write to get people to remember you, you really better rethink your strategy.Always a pleasure to read this blog.@SuzanneVara

The Redhead
The Redhead

Agreed - if it ends up on my windshield in the Target parking lot, it's crap. Parking tickets, especially.

The Redhead
The Redhead

What are these...relationships...of which you speak? ;-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I will scream it from the rooftops, Bill!

The Redhead
The Redhead

By the way - if anyone's interested, you can get 15% off your entire order* at Moo.com (code is 2TP2XN, order must by placed by 5/31)

Gurl
Gurl

Wow... Karma hits me in the face again I guess. I am either way to F'in nice, or Karma saved up until I really needed it. This is awesome, and much appreciated. Let's just hope I rock the casbah well enough to merit this and all the other hands up I am being given. Thanks, a LOT.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Aaaand here's what takes a redhead so long to respond.Justin and Gurl - it's your lucky day. Since it sounds like Justin needs help getting something down on paper he likes and for Gurl it's a matter of budget, I'm giving you both the following:3 hours with my graphic designer to design your cards and branding and, once said is done, a free order of 1000 business cards from GotPrint.com.I'll email you both with the details and get you introduced. I'm not just a heartless wench - I'm a wench committed to ensuring you get your business where you want it to go.;-) Sometimes we ALL need a slap :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Here's the thing- I also offered Justin good customer service advice on his OWN cards. If you're going to engage on a conversation, understand the conversation you're getting into (business tip #1). I have a GREAT customer service mindset. I respond personally to every comment. And Gurl- I meant it when I said " You go!" I applaud you for not being willing to do something half-ass and having the gumption to get on out there and DO.Keep on keepin' on ;-)

Gurl
Gurl

As much as I appreciate your virtual high five, I need to speak up for Justin. Much like me, He's been through hell..a hell that I would bet strapped him financially. He was simply offering a low cost solution for someone in his shoes to begin with. He may not have read the entire post, but he offered what insights he had on one of the issues you brought up. While I can understand you being upset that he didn't read the entirety, I can't see how you can blast someone THAT hard without knowing a thing about them. Poor customer service...and yes, blogs DO need to have a customer service mindset.

Mari Kurisato
Mari Kurisato

hi. I haven't read your blog entry, but I just felt the need to be a douche bag and post a comment. Ciao!

The Redhead
The Redhead

And as a result of not reading the entire post before commenting, you got blasted. By me. Congrats.And VistaPrint sucks no matter how you cut it. The cards are cheap, the stock is poor and...do I have to go on?And hereof where I'll also say-why haven't you paid a graphic designer to DO THEIR JOB and design you a fab set of business cards since you don't like what you keep coming up with? Quit throwing good money after bad and up you game, Justin. You've been slapped.Sent from an iPhone that wishes it were an iPad so its owner wouldn't have to worry about dropping calls.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Ok, Justin. Did you not READ the post you were replying to? What the fuck?

Justin Matthews
Justin Matthews

hmm posted before I finsihed. you can do some custom designs for not much on vistaprint as well. I think they start at $9 or so. you can start small and do more as you can afford it. I have been through several iterations of business cards now and still don't want to pay for something more

Bill W
Bill W

"If you’re a web designer, stop trying to be a writer."OMG, please scream that from the mountain top!Code writing IS NOT the same as creative writing!Thank you, Erika. I feel better now...

Gurl
Gurl

"If you can’t afford $21.99 for some kickass, easy-to-make business cards from a place like Moo, you probably need to go work for someone who’s going to give you business cards."Or you live in a place where going to work for someone who will give you business cards is like winning the lotto. I know..I speak from experience on this one. I am a student AND I have credentials in the medical field. Very few employers within the distance I can afford to drive recognize these credentials though. So I am making my own way, one blog post, one comment, one relationship at a time. If I find a job between now and then--great, I will get those business cards professionally done and get the tools I wish I could pay for as I sit typing this. Until then, I am just another face in the crowd of wanna be problogers, but with one difference. I will be a stand out before you know it, broke or not. :D

Trackbacks

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