Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Business cards: Your chance to make a good first impression

Canadian Contractor

You can say a lot about your company in a small space

First impressions: Charlie Brown and Linus were talking. Charlie notices something odd. “Linus, you’ve only polished the front of your shoes! Why didn’t you polish the rest?” Linus responds, “Charlie, by the time I walk away, people have already made up their minds about me!”

In today’s world of electronic media and website, sometimes the lowly business card is overlooked. That’s too bad! An effective business card can create an important opening impression with a prospective client, sometimes even before any words are spoken. Cards are physical takeaways that will remind people who you are and the way you approach the business of home building and renovation. It’s a far more personal interaction than a web site or an email.

Clear, classy, and to the point. Paladin, the hired hit man from the 1960’s TV western, had a simple message for prospective clients

Why rely on purely on a conversation?
You may come across a prospective new client in a chance face-to-face encounter, maybe in a mall or at a local hockey game. How will they remember your name? You want that encounter to be remembered by a more personal interaction than just an exchange of mobile phone numbers! You can talk eye-to-eye with a prospect before, during or after you’ve given them your card. It’s like a handshake. Sure, a phone number exchange is great, and many experts will suggest it’s enough in this day and age. However, it’s a little impersonal and certainly not tangible.

Having a card ready makes a statement
Business cards at the ready in your wallet, in your truck, or in your brief case is one more indication that you are prepared and professional. That’s step one. Making your card something that is memorable is step two. First you need a brand identity or brand image. Chances are you’ve already done that as a major part of your website. Now is the time to transfer that image to your card.


John Bleasby’s business card. All relevant information is there, yes, however it loses marks for layout and clarity

Even you don’t have access to professional design services to help you, there are ways to come up with a card that reflects you and your business. But don’t make it too complicated. At its basic level, your card should show your name, your title and your contact information. An address is a good idea if you actually want prospects to drop by. However, if you work from your house, maybe that isn’t necessary.

No logo? No problem! There are plenty of ways to look professional without resorting to clip art or a photo of your pet. True story: I once was given a card by a car salesman featuring a picture of his cat! Yes, I remember the card 30 years later, but I certainly didn’t want to do business with the man! Plain clear type can look great if the appropriate choice is made. And remember that there are two sides to the card. Prudent, uncluttered use of that space can explain a bit more about the scope of work you undertake. Maybe you can use a QR code so tech savvy prospects can scan it and go directly to your website!

Another option is to use the internet to search for designs that catch your eye. Many card designs are offered by online printing companies, shipped to your door in a matter of days.

Are you a “wild and crazy guy?”
Aside from logos, the color of your card says something about your approach. Vivid colours might be memorable and eye-catching, but does that wild and crazy look reflect the way you approach a build or renovation? Serious cards look a bit more serious —Conservative colours, clear type. If you decide on a paper card, pay the extra for a heavier weight stock. Avoid going oversize, however — that can be a bit annoying when inserted in a wallet or pocket.

That’s not to say the card material itself can’t be unusual, however.  You can form a strong, creative impression with clear or tinted plastic, even metal! Have a look at some of these cool ideas below!

In Japan, exchanging a business card is truly ceremonious
Presenting your card can always be preceded with a strong professional line like, “I’d like to give you my card.” It’s a bit of ceremony that might sound quaint, but it shows discretion and professionalism.

In Japan exchanging a card is serious business. “No business can begin until cards are exchanged because the exchange itself indicates the beginning of a relationship,” writes Harrison Jacobs of “Someone introduces us. We bow, exchange names, and, if the Japanese person offers, we shake hands. The Japanese person takes out a meticulously crafted business card and holds it out with both hands.” In this instance and in what has become typically North American, Jacob found himself without any business cards at all. “I take out a pen and paper and begin to furiously scribble down my phone number, email address, name, and company position.”

We are not as formal and ritualistic as the Japanese when making initial contact with business prospects, but there is a lesson to be learned nevertheless — Business cards have a role to play when creating important first impressions. It sure beats dropping a pile of them on a busy city intersection!

Here are some cool ideas for business cards


Here’s some card ideas for construction, as seen on Pinterest

Thinking plastic? This company has some ideas for you (Be wary of the wacky, however!)

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