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Put Your Business Cards Away


by Mckenna Hallett

Why simply giving your business card to interested prospects is the worst thing you can do.


business card collage


Okay, I know you clicked to see what the heck is this all about. You think I am going to trick you into some other issue altogether and I just used that title to get more hits, right? Nope. I am totally serious.

I have been teaching this principle for years and it is the most valuable single action that an artist can take to increase sales. I will repeat: MOST valuable single action you can take. Get ready to make more sales. It's the one change that people who take my course on selling techniques are most likely to report as the "most valuable" in my follow-up surveys.

While I agree that every person who is even vaguely interested in what you create should be someone who can locate you and follow your career and visit your website, letting them take a card at any random moment is ineffective and costly for your long term needs. Unless you are a magician who can cast a secret spell that will make someone go to your website later, you need more control.

Think back: they seemed so close to buying and then they grabbed a card and said, “I will think about it and email you.”

They just took complete control. They now control what you can say or do from that point forward. As they walk away with your card, you have no access to them again and no "active" influence ever again.

When you maintain control, your card has the ability to allow you to continue to sell, clarify needs, get more information, and even close a sale. When used properly, it has the ability to get the Holy Grail of information: their email address.

Your business card can act as a bridge for that gap from "I need to think about it" to "Yes, I would love you to ship this next week.”

Here are a few suggestions to help you build this bridge with no card visible anywhere:

  • They decide they want to "think about it" or ask the common questions – "Do you have a card?" or "Do you have a website?
  • Now, because you are controlling the departure, you can "finish your thoughts” while assuring them you will go get "all the information" they need. (You will want to dig for that card! Keep it under your table and in a box.)
  • Hand them a guest book or index card or something (I use a sign-up on my ipad that automatically enters people) and say, "while I get my card…."
  • Let them know (sell them) that you won't send very many emails – you are too busy for that, but you want to let them have sneak peeks, event notices, and other cool information in the future, so "please just put down your name and email address."
  • It is rare for someone who is truly interested and really enjoying you, your art, and has been bonding with you to have resistance to giving you an email address. If you sense any resistance, a big smile along with something like, "If you grow tired of seeing pictures of my art in your inbox you can unsubscribe in two clicks" will usually do the trick.

Slowing everything down and controlling the departure is critical. Now you have a great opportunity to re-visit the piece and take measurements, finish telling details that you think are still important or even ask for the sale one more time. You can at least ask if they have any final questions. You can just plain "finish" your side of the story.

They still get your information, but you have a way to remain in touch in the future. You have the ability to keep THAT sale alive or introduce them to future art that might just be an even greater sale in the future.

A quick email saying, "Thanks for spending time looking at my art today" with the actual picture of the art they were considering is powerful.

Try it. It works. Dare I say, it? It's kind of magical!

Carolyn EdlundThis article is courtesy of
Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, is a business writer, speaker and consultant for artists. She is the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, presenting at art business workshops throughout the United States. Carolyn works with artists every day in strategy sessions designed to help them structure their businesses, set and reach their goals. Find out more about scheduling your own business consultation with Carolyn here: window