The dog was barking…a lot!  I could hear her banging paws against the front door furiously.

“OFF!”  I yelled from the back of the house, trying to get her to calm down.  The insatiable barking continued to grow.

You’d think after having 6 different dog trainers in her 11 years that my dog, Ella, would listen.  But no, not this time.  The runt of a 40 pound black lab was on a mission: to protect her house from the guy standing on the other side of the door.

What does this have to do with a unique business card that failed?  Read on and you’ll see.

I will say this, Ella, my black lab, is VERY protective…of me, of our house.  So when strangers come to the door she tries her best to scare the living beegeezus out of them.

On this day Ella was “greeting” a stranger – a real estate agent –  who was performing one of the best guerilla marketing tactics I’ve seen in a long time.  He left this hanging on my door knob…take a look at the photo below.


You’ll see a shell necklace attached to his business card. Next to the business card was a listing of the homes for sale within a 5 block radius of my house. SO CLEVER…but in my book, this was a failure.

Before I get to the one reason why this guerilla marketing idea didn’t work, let’s first take a look at what did work.

Why does this Unique Business Card Idea rock?

  1. It couldn’t be ignored (it definitely got Ella’s attention).
    I couldn’t enter or leave my house without seeing the shell necklace and business card hanging from the door.  It wasn’t buried in a pile of bills nor stuck in my email inbox.  It was unavoidable.
  2. It was thoughtful
    Shell necklaces, or leis, are a sign of aloha and celebration in Hawai’i.  Even though this kind of lei is very inexpensive – the kind you might have received at a luau – if I had kids, I probably would have given it to them to play with.  Then, every time I saw the shell lei, I would have been reminded of that real estate agent.
  3. It was very, very targeted
    The list of homes attached to the necklace aren’t of houses on my side of the island or even the town I live in.  The list of homes are within a 5 block radius of my house. Someone took a heck-of-a-lot of time to research which listings went on which set of shell necklaces for each drop-off.

So, if this real estate agent did so many things right?  Why was it such a failure?

Discover why this unique business card idea failed miserably - Fit Templates Marketing Blog

This unique business card idea failed because there was no call-to-action.

I mean, what am I to do with this business card?

I guess I could hang it on the fridge or throw it in the junk drawer to save for later. But, I don’t know this real estate agent.  I have no relationship with him. I don’t know how qualified he is. Why would I want to use his services or recommend him to a friend?

Now, if this guy had a “call-to-action” on his business card, I might be enticed to get one step closer to doing business with him.

A unique business card needs a Call to Action to be an effective part of the marketing funnel

In marketing, a “call-to-action”, or CTA, is a statement that tells people exactly WHAT to do next and HOW to do it.

In the case of the shell necklace/business card/home listings, I wasn’t told what to do!

You see, each step in your marketing funnel should tell people what to do next so that you can get them closer to your goal of getting more leads.

So, don’t assume that your prospect can read your mind.   Be explicit with your instructions.  Don’t leave anything to chance…especially when investing so much time and effort in a cool guerilla marketing idea like this one.

Here are some effective “calls-to-action” that would have made this unique business card a big win:

  • “Know immediately when a new house is for sale in your neighborhood. Get free notifications at” This would direct people to sign up for MLS listings
  • “Wondering how much your house is worth? Call me for a FREE evaluation 555-1234”
  • “Get my FREE Honolulu Buyers or Sellers Guide packed with EVERYTHING you need to make your real estate transaction seamless. Go to”  This would direct people to a landing page with a free lead magnet/ebook download so that he could collect email addresses (new leads!)

Want to turn your business card into a lead-generating machine?

Find Your Next Unique Business Card Here


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Jill Tomich

Jill Tomich, Founder of <a href=""></a>, is an award-winning entrepreneur passionate about helping fitness and wellness professionals grow their businesses. She's helps athletic centers, online personal trainers, naturopaths and wellness studios from all over the world grow their revenue from her Hawaii-based Marketing Agency. You can connect with her on <a href=""> LinkedIn.</a>

One thought on “The Unique Business Card Idea that Failed

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