Improving Your Business By Sweating The Small Stuff

You’d be surprised at how many silly errors a professional copywriter makes in his/her first draft. I should know! Before you see our work, we’ll have revised and scrutinized that piece of copy a dozen times; laboring over every word, comma and capital letter.

It’s very rare that your first effort is your best effort, whether that’s in business, sport or your personal life. But those few who stop, take a minute and ‘sweat the small stuff’ are the ones who create something brilliant.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Another person who sweats the small stuff is product creator Tony Fadell. In his compelling TED Talk, Tony tells us how as humans we’re hard-wired to get used to the way things are. That’s great for making our world a little less chaotic, but it’s hell for writing copy that leaps off the page – or creating a product that people fall in love with.

If you’re passionate about making tomorrow better than today, take the next 15 minutes and check out what the man behind the iPod and Nest thermostat has to say on noticing – and driving – real change in every area of business.

– Lachy

Slimline Business Cards are just the Right Size

I’ve had years of practice at biting my tongue. However, a recent article by ‘self-employed’ journalist Joe Donatelli left a bitter taste in my mouth… a taste that can only be washed out by telling you why he is wrong. The article details how slimline business cards are embarrassing to hand over and create a poor first impression – if any at all. To that I say “rubbish!”

As the owner of a slimline business card (actually, over 500 of them) I feel it’s my duty to stand up for them. They’re half the height of a standard business card with all the impact – and if done correctly, very eye-catching. The role of a business card, first and foremost, is to simply provide contact details of one business person to another. Secondly, it’s to provide a snapshot of the business and/or person.

Slimline business cards – small in size, big in impact

There were a few lines in Joe’s article that stuck with me like a corn kernel between the teeth. Not because they were glaringly wrong (it is an opinion piece, after all) but because they just don’t give slimline business cards a fair go.

‘It’s embarrassing when someone hands you a mini business card and the look on your face is “Where is the rest of your business card?’

No, embarrassing is fumbling around for your business card and settling for the back of a shopping receipt. I’ve been in business and exchanging business cards with people for five years now, and not once, after being handed a slimline card, have I thought this. Perhaps if the card was torn in half, I might have entertained the idea.

‘What was wrong with the old way we did business cards? They were fine.’

You’re right, some are fine. Blackberry thought sticking to their guns in the face of smartphone innovation was “fine”, and today they spend most of their time eating Apple and Google’s dust. The point is being “fine” is being part of the pack. Being unique is the way to get ahead of it.

‘New-style mini business cards are easily lost in the chaos of modern pockets.’

I love this one. The concept of a ‘modern pocket’ is just visually brilliant. I imagine something from the movie Tron. You dip your hand into your jeans equipped with modern pockets and suddenly you’re transported into this neon world of chaos. Business cards, lint, chewing gum wrappers whiz past you at great speed. This bizarre hellscape is purgatory for pocket detritus.

The simple fact is you won’t lose anything, not even a slimline business card, in your pockets… unless you have a hole in them.

‘They’re virtually invisible in a business lady’s purse.’

This one I can appreciate – only because I have a man bag and love making the joke “I can never find anything in here” when at the checkout. If you take business (and your clients/business partners) seriously, you’ll safely stow business cards in the available slots of your wallet until you get back to the office – where they go into a designated draw or tin for future reference.

In my book there are only four mistakes you can make when choosing a business card:

1) Unclear or cluttered contact information

2) Poor quality stock

3) Not creative/clean design

4) Going too big

The lesson? Sure, some people might end up losing your slimline business card. Not because it’s small or because it had sharp corners so they had to put it down. It got lost because either it wasn’t memorable enough to keep, or because the first impression you left them with wasn’t enough to make them care.

– Lachy

Judging a Book by its Cover

In Mastering Marketing Episode 40 – Packaging for Impact, Kym talks about how companies rely on packaging to sell a product, and this Brazilian Burger Chain really takes that idea to the next level.  Their burgers are wrapped in edible paper, so customers don’t even have to unwrap their meal before they bite into it. With edible wrapping they’re telling customers that our burgers are too good to wait for – just take a bite!


The burger company makes the packaging a part of the dining experience, and gets a few laughs too.  You don’t have to look far to find other examples of packaging that puts a smile on a customer’s face. Vitamin Water use funny conversational descriptions of what their vitamins will do for you and this company made milk cartons into water bottles with the slogan – Boxed Water is Better.

At Messages On Hold, we try to make our customers smile at every opportunity.  This strategy extends from our emails and website banners right through to how we package our equipment. To the right is a snap of how our equipment is packaged. Our design team came up with the idea of a vintage suitcase – complete with bumper stickers from its travels!  We also include a sticker inside the box with a photo of the Operations Team to show who packed the equipment, which gives it a more personal feel.

Not all packaging has to make you laugh out loud. But a little bit of ingenuity can turn something as simple as opening a package into an experience that leaves a smile on your client’s face.

– Lachy