Those of you who have been following this series of articles have already picked up dozens of innovative, creative ways to make your business cards stand out.
Here are seven more tips, including some of my all-time favorites. We might call this the "lucky seven," but taking steps like these minimizes the "luck" factor in your business. In fact, the case can be made that contractors who market successfully make their own good luck.

#1. WRITE IN YOUR HOME NUMBER
Writing your home phone number on your business card is much more powerful than printing it. It sends a signal to the customer that he or she is special. It's a sign of trust. I used to routinely provide my home number to consulting clients. I told them, "Here's my home number. If I'm in the middle of something and can't talk, I won't hesitate to tell you and call back, so you shouldn't hesitate to call at night or on the weekends." In six years of consulting, I received less than half-a-dozen calls at home. In every case I was glad of the call.

#2 PUNCH A HOLE IN YOUR CARD
Punch a hole in a business card and give a reason for the hole. You do not even need print the reason on the card. People will ask.

#3. KEEP YOUR CARDS UP-TO-DATE
Even in stable businesses there are changes: phone numbers, fax numbers, job titles, and other information. Don't let the changes outpace your business cards. When things change, change your cards immediately and keep them up-to-date.

#4. OFFER A "BAIT PIECE"
A "bait piece" is just as the name implies. It is bait to attract the prospect. Bait pieces are often used to test marketing pieces and build mailing lists. A bait piece is a low level, no-brainer offer. It might be a free report on ways an HVAC contractor can help a homeowner cut utility bills, a list of 10 mistakes homeowners make when hiring a contractor, and so on.

Offer a free bait piece on your business card that people can get by e-mailing you or calling your office. When they call or e-mail, you can collect their mailing address and e-mail address for future marketing.

#5. FOLDED MONEY
If this seems like a cheesy trick, well, it is. Print a the back of a business card to resemble folded money. Print a part of a $10, a $20, or a $100. Or even print a faux $1,000,000 bill. Drop these cards face down during home shows and other events. People will pick them up - possibly somewhat discreetly - but they will pick them up.

#6. BUSINESS CARD CONFETTI
Joe Girard, a car salesperson, was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest salesperson in the world. He was known for the execution of a variety of unusual marketing tactics. They obviously worked because Girard sold more cars than anyone in the country year after year. In fact, he sold more cars than many dealerships.

One of Girard's marketing tactics was to attend the local high school football games, and throw a stack of business cards in the air whenever the home team scored. Crazy idea? Sure, but Girard figured that people would believe anyone crazy enough to do this might be crazy enough to offer a heck of a deal on a car. Who's to question the greatest salesperson in the world?

#7. THUMBTACKS
With your business cards, consider carrying a small box of thumbtacks. Whenever you pass a public bulletin board with business cards tacked up, tack up several of yours. Who will walk past that bulletin board next? Who knows? Just possibly someone with an unfulfilled HVAC need.

In the next installment of this series, we'll present more common sense, unusual, outrageous, and off-the-wall ways to boost your company's marketing through common and not-so-common business cards.

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.