You Ask…I Answer. Should I Put My Picture on My Business Card?

Question: Susan, I can think of no better person to settle this debate than you.  Recently, I was in a law practice course and it was suggested that solos put their pictures on their business cards –like real estate agents commonly do, and make them “glossy.”  Some say this is sort of unprofessional –again, like something a real estate agent would do.  I can see the benefit of it, especially after considering the rationale –the person may forget your face and this is a reminder, etc. and the glossy surface can’t be written over.  However, I also think it is a bit cheesey –especially when people use outdated pictures, etc.  I will say that when my card (which has a nice logo, etc) was placed next to a glossy one with a picture and what-not, mine looked plain….What is your take on this?

I believe the ultimate answer is very personal to the individual attorney.  And the individual attorney has to consider who their audience is. Using face recognition is valid because if after meeting you, whether an event or a free consultation, if they go to your website to check you out where you DO have a picture they know they’ve landed on the right site. This alone can make it worthwhile given the number of website’s out there.

More importantly, the more they see your face the further it pushes the potential client down the road toward conversion  to paying client which is the goal, right?  The more touching points a client has with you, the more likely they are to connect with you, again, and again.  And if this idea of putting a picture on your business card seems cheesy, think of this;  You put your picture on your website, your Facebook page, your YouTube videos, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, possibly brochures.  Why would not put your picture on this small square of paper to reinforce the connection once having actually met the potential client?

You also mention in the same paragraph that some are of the opinion that real estate agents do it and therefore it is unprofessional.  Is it? Or maybe they know something lawyers don’t – visual recognition is a powerful tool. In the next breath you say you believe it to be ‘cheesy’.  Is it cheesy?  Or is it that historically lawyers have never done it so you question the validity of doing it?  Given what’s happening in the legal profession today, it seems to me we should all be looking for ways to break away from the pack.  Imagine you are at a networking event just having collected thirty cards.  Which one is going to stand out to you when you review them later? (A little secret?  I’m a visual person.  When I scan the Facebook Timeline, LinkedIn and Twitter I’m looking for pictures of those I follow, not names. I forget names easily, but never faces. When someone changes their avatar I get thrown off. How many potential clients are like me?) The better question to ask is ‘does it help me more than hurt me to have a picture on my business card?’

Personally, if I was practicing today. I would consider it and not dismiss it out of hand simply because realtors (who are professionals) do it and realtors are sales people and lawyers don’t like the association with sales people. If you think it’s cheesy because people use outdated pictures, don’t use an outdated picture! But do use the same professional picture on all your advertising such as your web presences and brochures so clients and colleagues can continue to make the connection to you.  The more often they connect, the closer you get to a new client.

What do you think?  Do you use a picture on your business card already?  How has it been received?

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6 comments on “You Ask…I Answer. Should I Put My Picture on My Business Card?

  • I think putting your picture on the card can be a good idea for some attorneys – especially those who practice consumer areas of law (family, wills and trusts, personal injury, bankruptcy, etc.). It might not have quite as much value for corporate law. Consumers are often fearful of lawyers and having a good picture on your card can help personalize you and make them more comfortable about working with you. I think people want to work with attorneys who make them comfortable in what is often an awkward situation for them.

    Notice, I said “good picture”. Don’t hand your 7 year old your iPhone and have them snap a candid in the kitchen for your business card. I’m not saying you have to pay hundreds for a studio shot, but at least have a good backdrop, a decent camera and somebody who knows how to properly frame it.

    An amateurish or poor quality photo is probably worse than no picture at all.

  • I have written much in the past about business cards. I use to believe they were the pathway drug to obtaining clients. But, times change. Now I do not even have a business card. I rarely get asked for a card any more. The couple times a year that I do, I simply ask send them my contact, or ask for their card and write down my information.

    To the degree someone believes they need a card, I will say that it does not need to be gimmicky. But, I am a firm believer in it being personal. It needs to allow the person receiving it (and one of the few these days who keeps it) to know you better – to have a sense of you. I think a picture is good.

    I do believe in collecting information from people, however. For me, it is routine. Then I place them on my simple spreadsheet and upload the information for email broadcasts on a regular basis. Blogs, social media and the like all help. But, I find what keeps referrals coming is providing my referral sources (and potential referral sources) detailed information they can use on a very regular basis.

    A business card, in and of itself, cannot do this. It maybe helpful in exchanging information, but for too many lawyers in too many situations business cards substitute for a marketing plan. Increasingly, cards are not the answer.

  • Absolutely, put your picture on the card. The major focus of marketing is to differentiate yourself from others .. in a way that your target market can remember you, like you and call you. After all, isn’t that the purpose of having a photo on your web site? And if you have a logo on your card, isn’t that the purpose of the logo.

    If you have nothing more than standard white paper stock with black and white ink, there is nothing that sets your card apart from all the other lawyers in your community. Not a position that is ideal in a competitive world.

    Having said that, the photo is not what makes a card cheesy … it’s the nature of the photo and the card stock, etc. that makes the card cheesy, or not. Use a nice photo, a current photo, and use good paper stock … preferably stock that can be written on if the person wants to make a note about you on it …

    I have a photo on my card. And my target market (lawyers) always look at the card a second time … and say to themselves, hmmm, this person is different, I need to pay attention to what he says … and then I’ll decide what to do next … But, I get their attention. The rest, whether you engage (hire) me or not, is a function of my substance. But, I get the lawyer’s ear.

    • All good comments above. I second Ben’s opinion that photos on business cards would probably not set the right tone for large corporate clients, but would be acceptable for consumer practices. I REALLY want to echo Ed’s point that one should be able to write on your card. (So avoid the glossy cards.) If people ask for your card, they may want to note when and where they met you and something significant you said. Remember, you may give your card to more potential referral sources than clients.

      Something to consider that no one has mentioned: QR Codes. If you put a QR code on your card (perhaps on the back), that can function like a live link to your website. QR codes are still new enough to generate conversation, and people may follow up on it out of curiosity. Additionally, a QR code allows you to update content without having to change your card.

  • Great piece, Susan.
    I strongly advocate using a photo on cards, website, email signature, etc. Having an photo with an engaging smile helps clients, colleagues, referrers and prospects to “know, like, and trust” you.

    I’ve been experimenting with a photo on my card. I actually got a freebie packet of 50 cards from which allows you to create an assortment of cards each with a different photo or graphic image on one side, with details on the other.

    My card has a variety of 3 images, (2 photos and 1 cariacature) the “details” side lists my practice area(s) address, phone, website, and a QR code, so people can scan it and get my data right into their cel phones.

    I still keep my more “traditional” cards handy, and use them for more conservative clients, etc.

  • Gordon, great comment.
    Susan, very thoughtful and unique, as always.

    You MUST differentiate yourself from your colleagues. Stop following the pack of lawyers who believe that copying what everyone else has done is what you should do too.

    The lawyer who understands how to use a novel idea from a business having nothing to do with law and then apply it to YOUR marketing is the lawyer who will stand out from the crowd.

    You have identified a practice done with real estate agents. They do it because their clients get to know, like and trust them. A photo is just the first step.

    If you want to be boring and you want to always worry what other people think of you and your marketing efforts, then by all means DO NOT put your photo on your business card, your website or anything else you do.

    If instead you want to be remembered and want people to associate you with meeting them, then do it. It’s a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter what specialty you practice in.

    I must assume that if you’re worried about taking an overly cautious approach to putting a simple photo on your business card that creating video would be out of the question.

    Gordon has the right idea by using lots of tools on his card: photo, caricature, QR code and more. I strongly suggest following those ideas.


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