Friday, February 22

Titles on Business Cards 

As business owners, consultants and entrepreneurs think about revamping their business for 2008, some are redoing their materials. One of the top questions people often ask me is "What title should be on my business card?

Here are my guidelines for soloprenuers, consultants, and independent professionals:

1. You're not a "CEO." Sorry. That title is just sad unless you have a company of at least 20 people. My brother-in-law founded Jobnet.com and for the 10+ years that he was the head honcho, including office space and up to 10 employees at one point, he called himself the "Executive Director." Humility pays.

2. "President" is also lame, although it's excusable, since legally, your corporate entity might need a President on the books. But wouldn't you need something to PRESIDE over? It's tough to make the case for being a "President of 1." And it seems like you're striving, frankly. Get over it.

3. "Principal" is about as informative as "The Guy." Although, if your card said "The Guy," I'd like you a lot more right out of the gate! It's different, and it's self-deprecating, and it's honest.

4. "Owner" reads like "small potatoes." If you own a hardware store, that's fine. The rest of us can do a lot better than this.

Titles I like:

Founder - that's always gonna be true, whether you're a company of 1 or 100... or 100,000. Fred Smith is still the Founder of FedEx. I'm the Founder of my company. At least that title tells it like it is.

Managing Partner - I like this too. Sounds snappy and has the right combination of sense of ownership/management/service delivery. Of course, this works better if you DO actually have another partner. But for professional services firms, this works no matter what. In the consulting world, managing partners often have CEO-like responsibilities for an office, a region, or a practice area.

Managing Director - This is good, and probably a better alternative to the above if you're in your business alone. You DO direct the activities of your firm, don't you? Plus it's a well-known title in global professional services firms, where a managing director is often the CEO of a country-based business unit, such as the Managing Director for Switzerland.

Now, creative titles I love. No matter what business you're in, a creative title will get attention, and will make people smile. Those are the first two smart steps to attracting clients!

Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer wrote about his idea for creative titles on business cards:
How about "Customer Helper"? How about "Nice Guy"? How about "One Jason Among Millions"? How about "Sales Dude Extraordinaire"? How about a title that includes your hobby-like "World-Class Kite Flyer" or "I Bike 100 Miles a Week"? When I was in your position and used business cards from the company I worked for, I always put the title KING underneath my name and used it as an auxiliary card. Everyone who ever received the card, kept it-and they expected me to live up to my title. Since I dubbed myself KING, it created a sense of having to be the best. And when people asked me why I chose this title, I'd say because it's currently vacant. But it forced me to be my best at all times and act regally. Maybe you want to start out as the "DUKE OF SALES."

Another company, in the creative consulting field, uses this idea to the extreme. They have titles like "In Charge of What's Next" for the CEO, and "Check, Please" for the Accounts Payable person and "Forward" for their public relations person.

The bottom line is it's no good to claim to be different if you don't look or sound different.

How does YOUR business card stack up on the different-o-meter?

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