Dollar Bill Business Cards: A New Way to Think About “Social Capital” & “Viral Marketing”

by Melea on May 26, 2010

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When I was first starting out post-jobby-job, Chief Amusement Designer was a kernel of an idea (b. 11/20/08). And I was just me trying to find meaningful work without working within an organization.

Back then I had a lot of clients–doing odds and ends–writing speeches and city proclamations, marketing, creating internet strategy, making fun experiments for pay and not-for-pay, and teaching at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  I called my work polyfidelitous employment: loyal to many; married to none. I was all over the place. I just used my name.

And I marketed myself nada, notatall, not-even-a-little-bit. My business was 100% referral. (It still mostly is). And although I worked on, in, and around the web, I had the crappiest iWeb site ever. The only way you could find me is if you already knew my name. And once you did know my name and landed on my site, you were mired in internet shenanigans, including having to answer a riddle to be able to contact me. And friends–and future friendsthat is how I have built my business since March 1, 2008.

Now I do a lot of speaking gigs. I talk about the internet and search engines and entrepreneurs and artists and non-profits finding connection to themselves and each other offline- using online tools. 

I was invited to give a talk at a business group in Manhattan. It was open-ended. It was about: THE INTERNET. And it was to ~40 (older) people. And I didn’t have a business card. Or a company name. Or all the things you think you’re supposed to have when you’re talking to business groups about THE INTERNET at 7:30 on a Tuesday morning and people call you an expert and you don’t have a job title. Or an organization. Or a business card with those things.

By the way, YOU can have a job title from a slot machine. Right now. (CLICK SPIN!).

A friend of mine–a designer–made me cards. They were fun. And smart. And complicated to make. They were along the same lines as these super creative business card ideas that everyone has seen one jillion times. And these business cards cost one million dollars with a minimum order of 500.

I just needed 40 though. Just for this speaking gig. And as I was sitting on the R train, trying to decide if I was going to pull the trigger, to spend $500 on business cards with just my name on them, I thought,

“I could just give everyone a dollar.”


And that’s how the dollar bill business cards were born… I talk about them during the interview on the Board of Us page.
Have Part II come to you.

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