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Marketing 101

Buried in Business Cards?

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

You’re just back from lunch, redolent of Chicken Tikka  Masala and sporting fat jacket pockets lined with the business cards from your new client’s colleagues. Or you’re finally emptying your bags from vacation when … surprise … there’s  the card from the airplane seatmate who said, “Look me up next time you’re in Bangkok.” Now what?

Business cards are great. They’re an instant way to ensure contact information is passed on accurately, and a means to communicate your status at the firm without (ahem) bragging. Cards also send a subtle subliminal message about the nature of the bearer’s organization: Blind-embossed creamy ecru double-thick Crane stock? Crooked red thermography on flimsy gray cardstock? This miniscule square of paper says so much about the person it represents — and they’re not going away any time soon.

But still…what do you do with business cards in this paperless age?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask your assistant (if you are so lucky) to input all the contact information from the stack of cards on your desk into your contact manager of choice. Or get a business card scanner that quickly grabs the data and tosses it into your CRM system.
  • Send an image of the card by snail mail or “e” to CloudContacts so that they can turn them into your own personal database. The service scans, transcribes and exports your business cards into formats that can be used for social networks, e-mail services and CRM systems.
  • Give Evernote a shot. One feature of this note-taking, idea-capturing app is that you can slip a special case over the back of your iPhone and instantly snap high-quality close-ups of business cards, which you then tag and store in your Evernote account.

Or you could just keep stuffing people’s cards down in that bottom desk drawer, hoping all the information will still be up-to-date when you finally get around to sorting them out. Right.

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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. Learn more about Merrilyn here and follow her @astintarlton.

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