Nov 1, 2022
Cece Salomon-Lee

Business Cards Do Not Equal Permission

by RambergMediaImages via Flickr

I subscribe to quite a few enewsletters and RSS feeds, so it’s always surprising to receive an enewsletter that I never subscribed to. How did they find my email? Then I recognize the “from” address and I realize, I gave someone in that company my business card in the past.

A business card is meant to develop a relationship between people, not a person and a company. However, the first tendency is to take all business cards back to the office, dump them into a sales database and automatically subscribe them to all the company emails. Come on, you know you’ve done it!

From my perspective, this is the quickest path to 1) decrease people’s interest to work with your company and 2) for future emails to be blocked. In the end, this is about permission marketing (as eloquently written by Seth Godin in the book with the same name). Here are my three tips to gaining permission and starting your marketing relationship on the right foot.


Always ask and say please

What did you parents teach you when you were growing up? Always ask and say please. This is no different with marketing. Instead of adding me to a an email newsletter and anonymously sending it to me, consider sending me a personalized note highlighting why I may be interested in your newsletter. My motto is, if you never ask, then you’ll never hear yes, right? So ask first and maybe you’ll be suprised how many will say yes instead of hitting the unsubscribe button.

Treat each business card as a first date

Treat each business card as a first date – you’re seeking to win me over to go on the next date and the next. To do this, you have to understand my likes, dislikes and unique habits that make me special. The same with business. A business card provides a wealth of information to determine what type of information the person may be most interested in. For example, a marketing person may want to optimize lead and demand generation programs while a sales person may want to increase closed sales opportunities. Though similar, the needs of each are different.

Don’t be desparate

Have you ever seen the movie Swingers? Remember the scene where the main character keeps on calling this woman he just met, leaving voicemail after voicemail until she finally tells him to stop. Believe it or not, this happens in marketing as well. While creating multiple “touchpoints” is good for generating awareness about your company, multiple phone calls and emails is not necessarily the right application of this strategy. The key is coordinating between sales and marketing to understand how often a person is being contacted and why. Otherwise, the person on the other line will just hang up.

Conclusion – Long-term relationships

If done well, permission marketing will allow you to develop a long-term relationship that delivers value not only to the customer but also to your company. While this begins with a “yes,” you must constantly maintain that permission by understanding the person’s business needs, likes and dislikes. In a way, it’s like marri


  • Totally agreed. Relationship building is done with time and shared experiences, and there are better ways than spamming to accomplish it.

  • Excellent point CeCe. You forgot to mention one of the worst violations: using the cell number on your business card to send spam text messages.

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Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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