During the 1800’s and early 1900’s the calling card became the central element in the elaborate set of social rules and rituals that governed the way people would interact one with another. The card was used to announce the intentions of one party to call on another, whether it be as a friendly visit or more formal courtship. The way that the person who received the card reacted would then go on to dictate the future nature of the relationship. The card itself was simply designed and straightforward, a vessel to convey what could rightly be called the caller’s brand.

At a time when few people had telephones, the calling card acted as a declaration of intention which then gave the other party time to consider the proposition of additional interactions and then make an informed and definitive answer. In the world of marketing, this is the exact role your content must play.

Like calling cards of old, your content is a tool to help you make the acquaintance of new prospects and old friends alike. The same types of considerations, the nature of your content, it’s design and the manner in which it is delivered mirror the aspects of the calling card. While a calling card’s content was no more than the name of the caller, your content as an advisor looking to grow their marketing audience is just as crucial. Here are 3 instances of content marketing as a calling card that can help you achieve your goals of growing your business by attracting your ideal clients through digital channels.

The Introduction

Calling cards were often used as a form of introduction. A servant who answered the door would accept the card on a silver tray and deliver it to the residents of the household providing the receiver an opportunity to consider the caller’s company without the social awkwardness of having to make a rejection in person. The inhabitants of the home would then decide whether to accept caller’s offer and make an appointment or to return the card in an envelope, a sign that they did wish to grant the caller an audience.

If you were to, for example, develop an eBook centered around your primary point of specialization, you could then gate this content behind an information form. This would give a prospect the opportunity to consider whether the topics and level of expertise you provided matched their intentions and expectations. This would then allow them to opt into your marketing efforts by providing you with their email address and other information.

The Leave Behind

Calling cards were often distributed to the members of a household after a callers initial visit. This served the purpose of giving the visited party a reminder of the visit as well as a simple and direct way to request additional visits from the caller. A card would be returned to the caller’s home indicating that the person would like an additional visit.

As you develop your content strategy look at the pieces you spend time creating as a digital leave behind. As prospects investigate you online they will often spend a great deal of time on your site exploring your content. This gives them the opportunity to indicate to get to know you and decide whether your aims match their own. It is a popular statistic that prospects will often spend over 57% of their journey to engagement covertly investigating a service professional’s online presence before ever even indicating to them that they are interested. This is why it is important that your content reflects the nature of your unique service offering. It is important your leave behind make the right kind of impression and keep you top of mind so that your prospects will be more likely to make the decision to continue along the path to engagement.  

The Message

There was a specific set of rules involving the bending of different corners of the calling card which would indicate a person’s intention in the returning of a card. If, for example, the corner in the upper right hand was bent, it signified that the caller had delivered the card in person. If the left-hand upper corner was bent it was to signify a congratulatory visit. If the bottom left-hand corner was bent it was to communicate condolences.

Your content must serve different purposes depending on when and where it is delivered. It is important to consider the position a recipient inhabits along the spectrum of the customer journey to engagement. Are they just coming to know your service? Are they considering whether they need to engage anyone in the role of advisor or are they trying to decide whether you are the right person for a job they know they need.

Your content can be used in a number of ways that will help you establish relationships with those who are considering engaging your services. Like a calling card, it allows you to make a polite and direct invitation to your ideal prospects while giving them space to consider and respond to your advances. Calling cards have been out of vogue for quite some time, though there is evidence that they are making a small come back among a few people who long for simpler versions of social networking. But whether you invest in a stack of formal calling cards or not, your content should carry on their tradition as far as your marketing efforts are concerned.