Business Cards, Brochures, and Promotional Items - who needs them?

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Forum topic by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-27-2007 08:14 AM 3843 views 2 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark A. DeCou

2011 posts in 5323 days

05-27-2007 08:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: business cards brochures websites mark decou decoustudio wwwdecoustudiocom

During my recent church commission work, I had the blessing of working along side a really excellent craftsman (and nice guy) who did a bunch of remodeling work on the church. Since we were both working at the church, we went to lunch together, and I enjoyed getting to know him, and his wife, who also stopped by for lunch several times.

One afternoon some folks from another church about an hour away stopped in, as they are in the planning stages of doing their own church remodel, and wanted to get some input. I overheard the conversation, and stepped in for a second and handed out my brochure pack and ducked back out of the conversation.

After that, the remodeling craftsman said that he doesn’t believe in business cards, or handing out brochures. I felt sort of embarrased then, thinking about how I interrupted and handed out my brochure so brazenly. I sort of hand them out like people ought to want them. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m making enemies this way. Inquiring minds like mine, would like to know.

Since then, I have been thinking about the situation, and wondering what the other pros are doing for promotional materials for their businesses. I’ve got a website, about a dozen different business cards, depending on the situation (remember Jim Rockford on the Rockford Files tv show?) and a different brochure for each category of my work. It is a lot of material for sure.

If you get time, please give me some feedback on what you use, how you use it, why you do it, how you designed it, how effective it is, etc. I would enjoy hearing about the philosophy behind using, or not using, these materials.

thanks for your help,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

40 replies so far

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

657 posts in 5051 days

#1 posted 05-27-2007 12:18 PM

Interesting topic Mark and one well worth thinking about. I’m not a pro nor does my income depend on my self promotion but this is my two cents.

If would be a guessing man I would say that the remodel man was there remodeling before you were part of the overall picture so I’m sure he feels a little bit threatened after seeing your quality of work and the fact that you are now getting a little more of the attention than him right now. I probably would have put myself in the position were I could have handed out my promotional stuff when the contractor wasn’t around and their minds were a little more non focused on the remodel or I might even gotten their phone # somehow and called them later and forward them on to your web site but I would have updated it with your church furniture as it might have sparked their brain, kind of like, I saw that.

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of business with an owner, keep in mind I’m a commercial construction superintendent, and someone barges in and self promotes themselves it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and if I’m on the other end of the stick I won’t even look at what was given to me. In my opinion you want their full attention when self promoting not just a small flash of existence.

Keep in mind this all comes from someone who isn’t self employed that doesn’t rely on self promotion Good luck Mark!

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5078 days

#2 posted 05-27-2007 01:13 PM

that’s interesting. My first thought was “that’s nice -I get the information but you don’t really interrupt me” and then Rog had the opposite response.
My other thought was, “how DOES the guy promote himself. Does it work better than business cards??”

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5228 days

#3 posted 05-27-2007 01:33 PM

Mark, when I was in business, I tried eveything from business cards to putting flyers on cars. The business cards were usually handed out upon a request for them and maybe this should be your approach in the future. This way you don’t feel that you have pushed yourself on someone and when someone asks for your information, you don’t end up wasting those costly brochures by giving them to someone that is just going to pitch them. Forget every putting flyers out. It is a waste of time! I never aquired any business from them. I believe that word of mouth is the greatest advertisement and with you talent and excellent work, I can’t see how your work isn’t the talk of the town. I can’t see how these visitors, after viewing your work in the church, wouldn’t be begging you to do the same for theirs. Anyway, I was in the dirt business (cleared lots, put in septic systems, delivered and spread dirt, gravel, and limestone, etc.) and not a woodworking one, but business is business, I guess.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View VTWoody's profile


95 posts in 4975 days

#4 posted 05-27-2007 03:09 PM

I learned a great deal about promotion this year from the most unlikely of sources. I took over the student government position at my high school and struggled mightily trying to get our students to know about all the events that were occurring on campus. While I think teenagers are much more irresponsible than adults, as consumers, they are very similar in many ways. I am of the school of thought that your work should speak for itself, and that when people do excellent work, much like Os said, the word will pass around and you will probably get better business from that.

However, consumers are consumers, and in this day and age, they rely on advertising to show them who and what is available for purchase. I don’t think that rely is a strong enough term, but is the only one I can think of right now. The idea of handing out brochures and business cards is a good idea, but mostly for people who don’t yet know that you have something to offer them or who don’t yet know all the available options yet. I think that what you did was fine, as they were ostensibly at your worksite looking (at least partially) at your work which is excellent, and you need to make sure that they leave with your information.

View Ellen's profile


136 posts in 5363 days

#5 posted 05-27-2007 03:50 PM

Hi Mark, I am a firm believer, that ANY opportunity to hand out your business card/brochure etc is an opportunity for more work. Otherwise, how will anyone seek out your work? I realize that if someone wants to badly enough, they will find you, but in this day and age, lets make it as easy as possible for our potential clients to find us.

Best of luck, of course, your work speaks for itself.

-- Ellen --

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 4954 days

#6 posted 05-27-2007 04:37 PM

Mark, it’s nice to have stuff if someone wants it. It will be very rare that someone won’t take a brochure from a person that creates beauty. Don’t look at it like a used car salesman trolling at a cocktail party. Also, unless you have commisioned work backlogged for the next three years, business generation is a must. Whether the other guy finds it uneccessary or not, in 2007, with all the way of getting ahold of people, (email, cell phone, satellite phone, blackberry, IM, SMS…) you might as well let people know how to find you.


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View DomDenucci's profile


9 posts in 4941 days

#7 posted 05-27-2007 05:52 PM


I would not sweat it or feel embarassed. I beleive it was more than proper for you to give your business card and brochure out. Maybe, you could have given it to them right before they left…but again not a big deal. You have the gift to create and share it with others and make a profit as well. Nothng wrong with selling yourself…if you don’t nobody else will either.

Take care—

-- Dom, How many Bs are in Babar?

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5232 days

#8 posted 05-27-2007 06:05 PM

In my construction life the last thing I need is more work. My web of people are pros when I work outside this group I end up with a group i don’t fit in with. So I understand not promoting my work. It is a construction thing.
As an artist I don’t have this “support” group. If I don’t make the contacts I never will be able to do this kind of work. Maybe if I had a large base of clients. The best thing about having my “brochure” is that I can interrupt without making a disturbance!

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5079 days

#9 posted 05-27-2007 06:05 PM

I would agree with the others Mark, that you did it the right way. Since these people were from a church an hour away, they might not have even heard of you. This gave them the opportunity to know who did the work, and what you are capable of. Plus, they were able to see your work first hand. It is possible they could think the other gentleman was the person doing the remodeling, and you were just his worker.

He might not hand out stuff, because he has been in business a long time, has a significant following, or does not want to do the work to put these together. Whatever the reason, he runs his business one way, and you run yours another. I think both methods work, and it depends on the person and how they implement them.

I commend you on your efforts to promote your business and have all the materials prepared and available. I need to get myself that organized, and make brochures of my work and other information to hand out to others. While some people may toss it, others will save it and look at it. While they might not buy right away, they will think about you the next time they want some woodworking done. Or, they might want a cane, or something else you make.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5015 days

#10 posted 05-27-2007 06:09 PM

I think it would be worse to be asked for the materials and not have them available. Perhaps he felt you were interfering with one of his potental customers.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5217 days

#11 posted 05-27-2007 06:34 PM

I’m not in business, but I’d like you to see what my Grandson, who is in the business of designing, & selling business cards, has to offer. Here’s an article by him about logo’s.
It may help out some of you who are in business.

I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but I always like to help him out if possible.
Is Your Logo Helping or Hurting Your Business?
by Nathan Cain

The quality of your logo can mean the difference between success or failure. It can be that simple!

Trademarks and Logos make up the most international language in the world. An excellent logo can cross many barriers and provide your organization with a means of delivering to your customers an unequivocal and uniform message.

Every successful company has its own “personality,” and just as human personalities are complex, so too is your company’s personality. A successful logo is a means of condensing a complex reality into a single, simple statement, one that can be controlled, modified, developed and matured over time.

Your logo needs to be much more than just a distinguishing mark for your company. It must be an indication of quality, value, and reliability.

Does your logo do these things successfully?:
• IDENTIFY your company, product, or service.

• DIFFERENTIATE it from the mass of other
similar companies.

• COMMUNICATE information as to your products
value and quality.

• ADD VALUE by causing you to provide a quality service in order to maintain your company’s reputation.

• REPRESENT potentially valuable assets. When people see your logo, can they tell by the design that your product or service is of high quality.

If your logo doesn’t do these things, then you might need to update it, possibly seeking professional advice.

Is your logo design really that important?
It is extremely important! Your logo is a part of the foundation on which you build your brand. Especially since the recent explosion of Internet businesses, but even before that, consumers have an overwhelming variety of choices. Chances are that whatever you are selling, there is something similar to it available. Chances are there is someone in direct competition with you right now. Yes, there are very few products that are shielded from direct competition because of a patent or for some other reason.

It is because of this that much of your efforts in marketing and branding should be concentrated on building a distinctive and differentiated “brand personality” for your company.

Take the success of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. There is some difference between these two products, but this difference is very subtle. Plus, there are hundreds of other brands of cola on the market. Even so, these two brands, Coke and Pepsi, are able to dominate the world wide cola market. What is the main factor for their success? It is the strength and appeal of their brands.

And what is the foundation for their brands?

It is their powerful Logos!

Your logo is the means by which you can distinguish your products and services and therefore serve both your needs and the needs of your customers.

Ok, so what are the TOP 5 components that make up an excellent logo?
1) Long lasting style.
It is often tempting to adopt a design that looks really cool at the time but that can become outdated very quickly. This leads to the logo being constantly changed. Your logo designer should resist the urge to change your logo unless it is really necessary. It is only after consumers frequently see your logo that people may start to notice it. (Sometimes this is after you are already bored with it)

2) Distinctiveness.
It is interesting to note that many new companies adopt logo styles that are very similar to everyone else’s. Don’t go overboard though, your designer should be sensitive to cultural norms. A really wacko design wouldn’t do well in funeral home. However, you should still seek distinctiveness.

3) Appealing to consumers.
Your logo must be appealing to those who aren’t affiliated with your company. This means you must test your logo. Show it to your customers and see what they think. Ask them what emotions it evokes in them.

4) Conveys the right image.
What image are you trying to get across to your customers? Corporate? Upscale? Franchise looking?

5) Legibility
No matter what you do, if people don’t understand your logo, then it will be ineffective. Who are you trying to target? Where are you going to be displaying your logo other than your web site? Will it be on your letterhead, business cards, auto signs? Does your logo put out the same message no matter where it is displayed.

In conclusion, your logo is central to your company’s “personality”. Even if your company has a great personality, if your logo doesn’t convey that, then people may get the wrong idea and never do business with you. Within your logo and company name is held all of your investments, because it is this clear, identifiable aspect of your brand that the consumer uses in selecting your company or purchasing your products.

The author, Nathan Cain has more ideas that will help your business marketing efforts. Visit his promotional products web site at

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 5004 days

#12 posted 05-28-2007 07:06 PM

Any opportunity to network is the right opportunity. If your business is in competition with his then your timing might have been off but you certainly wanted and had the right to talk with those folks. If your business is complimentary then step in and compliment his work and work ethic (you said he is good and a nice guy) as part of that conversation give your business card and say you would love to work alongside him again. Every situation is different so your approach needs to change. Make it conversational and informative instead of just handing off a brochure. You don’t want to look like the afore mentioned used-car-salesman trolling for sales. IMNSHO

-- Bob

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5245 days

#13 posted 05-29-2007 12:23 AM

Well said… No need to feel bad about self promoting, it’s not like you swooped in and took over, pushing him out of the conversation. Had he told you nothing afterwards you would naturally presume he also gave them his contact information.

Many small business don’t want to spend any money on self promo, seeing it as expense – so to not reiterate what Dick’s son had to say,... anyone trying to make it in business Needs professional advice on professional quality marketing materials. Even creatives (graphic designers such as myself) need OUTSIDE advice. Don’t ask your kid or nephew for a logo, (unless their in the biz) or expect quality work for super cheap – if you want to stand out from your peers and create a good professional first impression.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View rookster's profile


67 posts in 5068 days

#14 posted 05-29-2007 09:14 PM


I’m not a professional woodworker, but I have professional marketing experience. I think the question of business cards and brochures boils down to style and context. It’s possible to never use either, and be supremely successful, but I think your odds are improved by having these tools available when they are relevant.

In your case, there was no need to be embarrassed about handing out the brochure. The visitors were there to plan for their own church remodel, and you are one of the resources for achieving what they saw. Your brochure will remind them of who you are, and if the brochure makes a good impression it may help them decide you are one of the craftsman they want to hire (especially if some of the decision makers were not present to see your work).

I would suggest leaving a business card or two with anyone you work for: this lets them refer you at a much lower threshold. Rather than having to remember your name, find your number, or search for your Web site, they can just hand the card out. I’ve referred craftsmen who worked on my house using business cards they left behind, and it has been as much as 5 or 6 years later (when I definately would not have remembered their names or how to contact them).

Brochures are especially important when you are trying to represent your work from a distance. How you do this is up to you, but the ideas range from just including the brochure in response to information requests to sending them with a handwritten note to congratulate to every newly wed couple announced in the local newspaper (letting them know if they ever want that special table, chair, or built-in you would be happy to give them a $50 credit as a wedding gift). Just remember: if you are doing marketing outside of word-of-mouth, a good return is in the range of .1%. So you might need to distribute about 1000 to get one response. Also, it typically takes 6-10 contacts before someone acts on marketing information, so the more ways you can get out the message about your business, the better your chances of receiving an inquiry.

That said, your craftsman friend is right about one thing: if you can get the word-of-mouth referrals going, you might never need a business card or brochure again. But it won’t hurt you to have them and keep giving them out.

-- Rookster, (

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5245 days

#15 posted 05-30-2007 01:34 AM

Well said…Very true. Dad has rec’d calls on flyers he put out upwards of a year prior. Someone just held onto it until they were ready. (or came across it or a similar in a future distribution wave.)

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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