One of the great problems facing new small businesses is getting the attention and trust of people in a crowded and busy market place. You may be an expert in your own field, as well as being keen and excited about your new enterprise, but sadly not everyone will have the time to discuss much, or a need to buy, at the time when you meet them. Naturally many may also have limited trust in an unknown, new, start-up. A lot of your time, when first self-employed, will be spent sowing seeds for future trading and you need to be in touch with as many relevant people as possible, as soon as possible.


It is important therefore to make both a good, memorable first impression and leave something with potential buyers that can hang around until a change in circumstances brings them to point where they are ready to buy. For example, if you are selling insurance, a busy business person is not going to want to go into great details until much nearer a renewal date. Try carrying a pocket full of coasters, printed as business cards, and hand them out as you introduce yourself to new contacts. Be honest, enthusiastic and listen to what they do carefully. Listen out for one area in which you may be able to help in future, ask them to take the coaster, or pop it on their desk, and ask if they would be kind enough to consider you next time they want a quote for that particular service. Don’t be afraid to ask if they know anyone else who buys the same product or service, and ask for an introduction, to give them a coaster too. As well as having a good chance of being around when someone needs you, a coaster also gives a repeated daily reminder of your new brand, on a desktop, next to a computer screen, where they can search for your extra details.


If your prime customers are more likely to be out and about, rather than at a desk, pop your details onto a pen or key ring that can stay in their pocket. If you want your message to be kept by house holders, use fridge magnets as your business cards. Get your message into the heart of the home. Don’t be afraid of telling everyone your start-up story, as human nature will make them want to help. Keep your story concise, useful and interesting. Psycology tells us that emotions help to cement memories into peoples’ brains, so making a happy and interesting first engagement with a client is the best way of helping them remember you. An experienced gift distributor can assist you both with the right message and an appropriate product to fit your budget.  It can all add up to making that very important first impression.


Whenever you use a product as a business card you are standing out from your competition. By being different, you are leaving a lasting reminder of your brand and you have greatly increased the chances of getting a call, referrals and recommendations, in the future. Always make sure you carry your products with you, when working, networking and socialising, as you never know when a conversation may lead to a chance to make that first impression. Good luck with your new venture.

This one of my “business card” pens that I always carry in my pocket.

Pierre Cardin Fashion pen

Why not get a pen printed as your business card?

Stephen Ward is Managing Director of and is an Accredited Member of the BPMA