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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Offering business cards

I’ve already written on my loathing of business cards. But as with my attitude to the word insight, my stance on the issue is modifying.

I still think they’re an inefficient remnant from an analogue age that have little relevance alongside a mobile phone (particularly one that syncs to an email client).

But if someone requests a business card, then that is their preferred means of exchanging information. And that should be respected.

I still have little inclination to order a batch. But I think I’ve found a compromise. Customised cards.

I’ll carry some blank pieces of card around with me in my wallet. If someone requests my contact details and doesn’t want to do it digitally (whether via Bump, Bluetooth or manually entering the information), I’ll create a card. Similar to the example below, which shows both sides of a card.

Simon Kendrick's business cardThis has multiple advantages

  • Efficiency – the only wastage will be the unused pieces of card that could be reused for something else
  • Custom levels of access – I can choose which contact details to provide. My social graph isn’t completely open, and this allows me to choose whether to give my mobile number or my office number, or whether to include my Twitter or Linked In details alongside an email address
  • Personalisation – I can customise the card by including details of our meeting or a private in-joke. This should aid cognitive recall when the recipient is sorting through their cards (and probably deciding which to throw away)
  • Stand-out – it is different and so it should stand out (a little) among a pile of boring corporate cards. As Hugh MacLeod – a pioneer in repurposing business cards – would say, it creates a social object

Of course, there are drawbacks to this approach

  • Legibility – I have terrible handwriting, and so my contact details may not be legible
  • Digital incompatibility – Digital business card scanners won’t pick it up
  • Too informal – It doesn’t fit in with the corporate brand, and so wouldn’t be suitable in more formal circumstances (though I’m not planning on visiting Japan, with its strict business card etiquette, in the near future).

I’ll trial this approach and see how I get on. Ultimately, business cards are transient and disposable – they are a means to an end. But if my means could be a little more memorable, a little more personal and a little more environmentally friendly, then I would be fine distributing my contact details.

Though I would still prefer people to take down my details digitally.

sk

Links – 22nd December 2008

This post is part 1 of 2, and they will effectively be my only link updates for December. A shame considering I kept the updates fairly consistent beforehand, but December isn’t the easiest month to keep on top of things – particularly with ATP and illness.

Anyway…

Social media

  • I’ve been using Twitter a lot more recently – I think the main reason is the use of Tweetdeck, which has useful filter features within a great interface. This has allowed me to distinguish signal from noise to a greater degree – something that concerns me with social media. Two posts on the subject resonated with me – Inquisitr’s “Is Social Media Becoming A Social Mess” and The Tumbling Cod’s “I’m Pretty Sure Tumblr Makes You Stupid
  • Most people reading will be familiar with the furore over Chris Brogan’s sponsored post. For those unaware, Jeremiah Owyang has a comprehensive overview of the situation. I think Chris Brogan defended his position well (for the record, I have no problem with it so long as it is disclosed. If it happens more frequently than I’d like, like others I would unsubscribe) while Dirk Singer wrote the best opinion piece on the matter that I read.
  • E-Consultancy looks at social media’s metric problems. A while back, I wondered how best to measure the online sphere in general. I don’t envisage a universal answer being forthcoming anytime soon.
  • JP Rangaswami has a thought-provoking post on the nature of asymmetric networks and conversations within the social media sphere, while James Governor also gives his thoughts on the asymmetric follow
  • Paul Carr has a typically humorous post on his experiences at LeWeb, and the fallout from the less than perfect proceedings
  • Bubble Comment is  a new tool that lets you overlay video comments onto websites. I’m not sure whether this constitutes fair use, so it may not be around for all that long in its current form, but worth a look.

The Internet

  • Merlin Mann responds to the productivity/advice blog genre that has eaten itself. His contention is that it is wrong for people to look for quick tips and lifehacks – the best way to improve is to follow a cohesive and comprehensive plan. We should concentrate on doing, rather than living vicariously.
  • Cory Doctorow puts forward a persuasive argument for not extending the copyright privileges of recording artists

Research and data

  • The latest Trend Blend map is available. Download it along with previous editions here
  • Dataopedia is a brilliant, free resource pulling together all the publicly available stats for different websites.

A pretty huge list. So, for those that don’t have a lot of spare time over the Xmas period I would particularly recommend Jeremiah on the Izea brouhaha, JP on asymmetric networks,  Hugh on why social objects are the future of marketing, Guardian’s top 100 websites and the latest trend blend map

sk

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Matter box’s physical failings

Matter is a joint venture between the Royal Mail and Artomatic. In an increasingly digital world, it is designed to promote the physical through sending people packages of “brands you can hold”.

It is a great example of both permission marketing (click through to a page where you can get the first 4 chapters of Seth Godin’s classic book) and marketing as a service.

Everyone can benefit. Consumers get free gifts. Brands create awareness in a positive, non-intrusive manner. And the Royal Mail reminds people of the simple joy of receiving a mystery package.

One trick I felt the participant brands missed this time was creating something unique of ongoing value – a social object, if you will. This package was primarily free samples, whereas the pilot Matter box contained branded items such as crayons, a keyring and a sweatband. Free samples are obviously a proven method of promotion, but it doesn’t feel like a gift in the way that a specially commissioned item does.

That is a minor gripe. My major gripe is unfortunately with the Royal Mail’s service.

As a society, we appear to be increasingly intolerant of inconvenience. We expect things to work. Because if it doesn’t in this age of choice, we can go elsewhere. Witness the furore of Twitter‘s downtime, and the Fail Whale. Yet according to Royal Pingdom, Twitter still had 98.72% uptime.

The Royal Mail may claim 99.93% reliability, but that is going to vary by package type. I seem to have no trouble receiving bills or junk mail. Packages on the other hand are a different matter.

My local sorting office has a reputation for incompetence, and in my experience that is perfectly justified. Packages have been left outside my flat, recorded delivery mail has been posted through the door, and “Sorry we missed you” messages have both shown up when I’ve had nothing to collect, and not arrived when I have.

So, of course my Matter box didn’t arrive last week. And I wasn’t alone.

I  commend Tim Milne at Artomatic for swiftly despatching replacement boxes. My second box did arrive safe and sound.

Matter is supposed to promote the benefits of physical products. But it is also highlighting the drawbacks. I may not be able to hold digital products, but I can at least be reassured by the reliability, accountability and transparency of transactions.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/

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