Business card marketing

Marketing authority Matt Michel on improving your company's business card marketing

One of the simplest and lowest cost forms of marketing can be surprisingly effective. It’s the business card. It’s amazing how many companies underutilize business cards. Their cards are plain, containing little more than basic contact information, the same information that’s available from an online Yellow Pages. A decade into the 21st century, they’re using 20th century business cards.

The following are a few ideas to beef up your business card marketing:

Include all contact information: Do you include your mobile and home phone on your card? Why not? Your customers will rarely bother you at home. If they do, my guess is the matter will be important enough that you’ll be glad you gave out your number.

Include an e-mail address, Web site: Make sure to include your e-mail address and Web site. You should also think about including social media contacts like Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and your company’s Facebook Fan Page. Do you have a company YouTube account? Put it on your card.

Use both sides: The card has a front and back. Why not use the back for a marketing message or to make the card more valuable and retained. Here are different items you can put on the back of a business card: dollar off or percent off coupon, tipping chart, kitchen conversions, favorite quotes, sports trivia, scald chart, water leak chart, instructions for a motor vehicle accident, local reference and emergency numbers, seek and find with plumbing terms, mini crossword with plumbing terms, image of a folded $20 bill, Spanish language version of the front, big type version of the front for seniors, referral card, employee recruiting card, list of services, list of charities your company supports, definitions of plumbing terms, list of ways to conserve water, personal bio, company FAQs, company history, company mission statement, unique selling proposition, customer testimonials, large image of your brand logo or truck to spur recognition and recall.

If you like these ideas, but are worried that you have too many business cards made and are too frugal to discard them, make stickers or have rubber stamps made. This has the added advantage of flexibility. You can change the back whenever you want.

Use a different business card: Ruth King, president of Business Ventures Corp., surprised me one time with a “Page 2” business card. The Page 2 card was a mini brochure. Some contractors use folded cards for the added space. We’ve even created a “baseball card” business card, complete with employee customer service statistics, certifications, etc. At the Service Roundtable, we use die cut cards, so that our cards have rounded corners and look, at first glance, like a credit card. The cards cost the same as square cards. You can get cards with one corner rounded, the entire end rounded, in the shape of a service truck, etc. Search online for die cut business cards.

Some contractors use plastic business cards. These are certainly distinctive, though they do cost more. If budget is no issue, you can also get three dimensional cards, metal cards, cards that indicate UV exposure, cards that will give you the temperature when you dip them into the bath water and digital cards that will play in a computer CD drive.

Don’t be cheap: Incredibly, some plumbers fail to give everyone in the office business cards. Or, they pass out cards with a line for the employee to handwrite his or her name. The implication is that the employee won’t be around long enough for a real card. Give everyone business cards, including part-time employees. Encourage employees to pass them out to everyone they know. There’s a term for this — it’s called marketing. And it’s about the cheapest form of marketing around.

Give employees good titles to increase their pride in their business cards, so everyone will want to share them with family and friends. Who wants to hand someone a business card with the title “Helper” on it? Pass out cards to everyone you know. If someone hands you a card in return, add the person to your mail list. Paperclip business cards to every bill. Leave them behind the DVD when you return a video. Tack them to bulletin boards (offer up if you have a coupon on the back). With permission, leave them on the counters of donut shops, dry cleaners, convenience stores and other retail businesses you frequent. Become an evangelist for your company and share the good news of professional plumbing!

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, the world’s largest contractor business alliance. Visit his Web site at www.ServiceRoundtable.com. Read his marketing blog at www.ComancheMarketing.com, follow him on Twitter @ComancheMktg, connect with him on LinkedIn or become his friend on Facebook and become a Facebook Fan of the Service Roundtable. E-mail Matt at [email protected]. Call him toll free at 877.262.3341 or on his mobile at 214.995.8889.