Throughout the last few newsletters, we’ve presented dozens of insights on how to get high performance and high mileage out of your business cards.

It’s time to wrap this series up with our final set of tips. As we do, keep this in mind: they’re called business cards for a reason. If your business isn’t plain and boring and static, then don’t make your business cards look that way. Find creative designs, uses, and methods of distribution for your business cards, so that they can get out into the world and do their job.

For example, when you return a DVD to the video rental store, stick one of your cards into the case behind the disc, so that the next renter will find it. This works particularly well when the card has a coupon or discount offer on the back.

Try Some Trivia
Lots of marketers talk about using business cards to drive people to their website. The reasons are fairly obvious. Drive a homeowner to your website and you have the opportunity to communicate much more than is possible within the limited confines of a business card. But how?

One possible way to drive traffic is to post simple trivia questions on the back of your business cards with a link to the answers on your site. For example:

Name the first pitcher to hit a grand slam in the World Series.

Bonus - The top pitcher on the same staff hit a grand slam during the championship series. Name him.

Double Bonus - The number three pitcher became the most famous of the three. Name him.

If you want the answer, e-mail me at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. (Yes, this is a test. It’s designed not only to see how many people have read this far, but also to see how well you know your baseball trivia.)

Use “Famous” Quotations Carefully

Many contractors put a quote (falsely) attributed to John Ruskin on their business cards: There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.

Ruskin never wrote or said this quote, according to Ruth Hutchison from the Ruskin Centre at the University of Lancaster. “We have been asked many times about this quote, or similar versions of it, and have never been able to identify it as being by Ruskin. We suspect that it has been wrongly attributed to him in the past and found its way into a book of quotations or something like that.”

Worse than the inaccuracy is the thing is says about your company: you’re signaling you cost more before you’ve built value. All the prospect can hear is your trumpet sound that you cost more.

Play the Accordian

Beyond the standard business card, consider “tent” cards. These are multi-fold cards that can open like an accordion. They offer the opportunity to really expand the message presented with a business card.
When designing these cards, pay attention to the manner in which the card folds, and the information that is revealed with each panel.

Get ‘Em Into the Public
A great way to merchandise your cards is to buy some low-cost business card holders and double-sided tape. Put the holders up near community bulletin boards, in public parking garages, and other locations.
Every week, I make the rounds and drop off targeted discount business cards (i.e., cards with special discounts for the groups who frequent the location). People will take the cards and, every now and then, call.

Keep it Clean and Simple

One of the common errors in business card design is to put too much information on the card. Sometimes less is more, especially if it confuses people about what it is that you do, makes it hard to find your contact information, or gives the card a messy, disorganized appearance.

Use a graphic designer or business card specialist to give your cards a professional, polished look.

Say you can’t help yourself. You simply have more information to convey than can be communicated on a business card. If you do not want to use a tent card or multi-fold card, create a second card. Call it your “Page 2” card. Add any supplementary information that you left off the main card.

A Page 2 card should have contact information for your company, of course. But, you can dispense with your name and job title. You can also have more than one Page 2 card. You can develop one for the residential market that lists products, services, and reasons to do business with your company.

You can create an entirely different Page 2 card for the commercial market that lists achievements, qualifications, and so on. The Page 2 card allows you to appear specialized in whatever area is of concern to the prospect you meet. Get creative.

Set a Distribution Goal

Business cards are one of the lowest cost and most effective means of marketing your business you can find. If you go to the trouble to create professional and unique business cards, you don’t want to keep them to yourself.
So, last but not least, set a goal for card distribution. Every day set a goal to distribute a certain number of business cards. It may be two. It may be five. The goal forces you to think creatively about passing out your cards. Ultimately, the more cards you distribute, the more business you'll generate.

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.