Do you talk about your team? Show it. Create baseball-like "tech cards." Include a picture of the employee, position, and stats on the back (e.g., experience, certifications, education, etc.). Make everyone an all-star. You can make this as creative as you want. Employees can carry the gear for their favorite sport, wearing their company shirts.

Why go to the trouble? First, it humanizes your company. When people see cards like this, they have to smile. More importantly, it gives employees a reason to pass out cards among family and friends. Sometimes employees hesitate to promote their companies too heavily at church and among friends. Give them the baseball cards and you give them a reason. "Hey, look at this!"

3-D Business Cards

These show motion (e.g., a truck rushing to service, a fan turning, a hot to cool customer, etc.). You've got to see them to evaluate. They are very eye catching. You can find samples of 3-D cards at the following websites:

Metal Business Cards

With metallic business cards, you know you won't have to worry about the card getting all wadded up in someone's wallet or pocket. Air conditioning contractors can promote the fact that "We know sheet metal." Plumbing contractors can make similar statements about copper and brass.

Wood business cards are another variation on the theme.

Metal cards are available at:

Die-Cut Business Cards

Another unique card is a die cut card. Any die cut will make your card stand out and several vendors offer a number of stock shapes. If you don't see one you like, you can always get a die custom made.

Businesscardsprinting.biz has some unique templates already created. They have a stock die cut in the shape of a truck that looks great. There's one in the shape of a duct trunk, though you might find it hard to recognize the duct.

Or, thinking out side of the box, what about using a newspaper classified ad tear off to create a special business card used for recruiting technicians? The same die cut shape could be used to create a business card coupon that appears to be torn out of the newspaper.

Die cut cards are available at:

UV Business Cards

Another unique business card is the UV indicator. The principle is similar to that of the temperature strip. UV cards are available at:

Vary the Back of Card Promotions

Why should a prospect part with their hard earned money and give it to you and your company? List 10 reasons why someone should do business with you on the back of your business card.

An easy way to offer special promotions on the back of your business cards is to make them yourself. Get a variety of ink stamps made by your printer and test different promotions.

Make offers ranging from a few dollars off discount to a free filter, free gallon of bottled R.O. water, Bio-Clean, and so on.

The advantage of the ink stamp is that you can vary the promotion. If you're visiting a particular group, you can tailor the promotion to that group. Or, you can test different offers and see what clicks. Once you've got a winner, print them for everyone.

Don’t Be Stingy

Make sure that everyone in your company has business cards to pass out. Since the business card is a promotional piece and lead generation device, you want everyone in your company to be able to distribute them. Business cards are cheap.

Thank-you Notes

Hand out business cards with a special note when you receive outstanding service. Write that you were impressed with the service received and would like to recognize the service provider with a five or 10% (or ten or twenty dollar) discount the next time they need your services. Ask to be given a chance to show how well your company provides service. For maximum effect, these notes are hand written.

Pass Them Out to Companies You Patronize

Be ruthless in asking for the business of the companies you patronize. Whenever you eat in a restaurant, pick up laundry from the cleaners, or buy from a retailer, ask to see the manager. Hand him or her a card, stating that you enjoy and patronizes the manager's business and would like the opportunity to earn his business. cards.

In the next edition of HVAC Hotmail, Mat Michel will discuss using business cards to intiate family and friends promotions. Stay tuned.

Matt Michel spoke at HVAC Comfortech 2004 on marketing This rant was solely the opinion of Matt Michel, CEO of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.