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Say “Cheese!” It’s time to play Business Card Monte

We’ve all seen them. The usual suspects on a line-up across a counter in an empty kitchen. Gathering dust on a convenient window sill. Spread out like an abandoned poker game on a dining table. Ah yes, the real estate business cards left behind at showings. Black, white, red, blue, cheap, shiny, standard issue, each one with a Friendly Neighborhood Expert (FNE) smiling earnestly or stupidly grinning, depending (see tiny mug shot, above). My clients notice them too and they kind of scowl over the line up. When I toss mine onto the pile they say, “Hmm. Yours is different.” At which point I flash my own killerwatt smile and say, “Because I am.” They grin back, we move along.

Business cards are pretty awesome when you think about it. Palm-sized advertisements that you can carry about. A potentially effective way to get your message across, but it seems mostly wasted in the world of real estate.

Recently I saw a business card that was left behind with a printed thank you message: “Thank you for allowing us to show your property.” That’s nice. The message was printed next to the full length image of Mr and Mrs FNE. I wonder if it would be useful to have a showing-specific business card, with space to write a note on it? “Love the floor plan!” “Great job with the kitchen.” “Sorry we accidentally let the cat out.” “What the hell is that smell?” You get my point. Someone more experienced can fill me in on why that would be a disastrous idea for their client.

I’ve had property-specific business cards printed up, that’s an easy item to hand across a threshold if you are door knocking, and I have all purpose business cards I use, (see blurry photo, below) they feature The Brick Ranch logo from my website, and it does stand out in a sea of tiny FNEs splashed across the Formica, but business cards are so cheap, why not have a few on hand for a multitude of purposes?

I remember Russell Shaw commenting on one of the BHB business card posts that your face had better be on the card at Realtor networking events. Okay. I can get those printed for cheap at $18.00/thousand. Done. And at the rate I attend real estate networking events, they’ll still have to throw out the bulk after my funeral.

If I worked heavily in short sales, I’d have all sorts of info on the back of a Short Sale specific card. First-time buyers, luxury market, property management, anything could have its own card with information pertaining to that segment of the real estate world.

For the record, here’s my all-purpose business card, but I’m thinking of diversifying. Real estate business cards are notoriously boring, but tremendously cheap so why not? What about you? Done anything interesting with your business card lately?

 

Related posts:
  • Flashed cards: If you want any more salesmanship than this, you’ll have to make an appointment
  • Flash your business card and show us your marketing philosophy
  • Seth on business cards — of particular interest to Realtors and lenders

  • 19 comments

    19 Comments so far

    1. Pat Vredevoogd Combs August 12th, 2011 10:35 am

      Hi Teri, I love the creative thinking! We have a debate going on at our house (my husband is also a Realtor) – photo or not?- he says No (likes it clean and professional) – I say Yes (easy to remember) – although, as my hair gets longer, then shorter, then blond, then dark – I’m not looking much like my photo – which is also a nice ice-breaker at an Open House. You are totally right about the low cost and a great opportunity. Our Board does have a few rules about cards left for sellers (they were beginning to look a lot like soliciting the listing) – so, something to think about before folks make up 20 x 30 new busines cards.

    2. Teri Lussier August 12th, 2011 10:49 am

      Hi Pat-

      If you search the BHB archives, I’m sure you can find that debate here. I’ve always been in the minority that says No, however, I recently had a female client tell me that they chose me out of the broker’s website line-up because I have a “nice face” IOW, “you look relatively honest” so now I’m thinking I should shake what my mama gave me… She saw an updated mug shot, btw- not the one you see here. Anyway. Maybe it’s not the faces, but the sameness of the cards. It doesn’t matter who the agent is, it’s hard to tell them all apart by their business cards.

      >Our Board does have a few rules about cards left for sellers

      Seriously? Here, specific showing instructions will say “leave a card”, so I figure that leaves the door open for whatever the heck kind of card I want to leave. :-)

    3. Greg Swann August 12th, 2011 12:37 pm

      As you know, we do a lot of custom business cards for every purpose we can conceive of. It’s my favorite kind of promotional piece.

      Here is the card we leave in our rental properties:

      We are very serious about procuring cause — no one takes care of tenants, so we take care of the agents who do — but I have no qualms about peeling off tenants who are not getting results from the agent they’re working with. That’s why I build a rental front-end into the FlexMLS IDX system, and that’s why I’m promoting it on that card.

    4. Teri Lussier August 13th, 2011 10:50 am

      That’s very impressive.

      Greg, do you see any other Realtors using business cards in remotely creative ways? I would love to see some, one, somewhere, (that didn’t have Odysseus smiling back at me). :-D
      Seriously, it’s all kinds of missed opportunities to shine, and what I see is a lot of moo-ing.

      I did search the archives here because I know this comes up, and there are some posts, but not as many as I would think, and not many comments from other Realtors on those few posts. I guess that leaves the door wide open for anyone looking for an inexpensive way to differentiate themselves from the herd.

    5. Tom Johnson August 13th, 2011 11:22 am

      >that leaves the door open for whatever the heck kind of card I want to leave. :-)

      You are why I do not ask for cards on my listings ;-).
      If there is electronic lock box and a showing service, I know who was there showing the property.

      On the other hand, I have been known to donate a custom bookmark sized “thank you for letting me show” card to leave when asked to leave a card.

    6. Teri Lussier August 13th, 2011 12:40 pm

      >I have been known to donate a custom bookmark sized “thank you for letting me show” card to leave when asked to leave a card.

      Nice. I think I’m going to get something custom made up for occupied homes, and then some Come to Exit Pump-the-Downline cards to leave at foreclosures. My card case will be like the Hallmark store- a card for every occasion…

    7. Jim Klein August 13th, 2011 4:32 pm

      There’s Greg again, always seeing things from the customer’s perspective and givin’ away more secrets. Nice.

    8. Don Reedy August 13th, 2011 8:06 pm

      Teri,

      Oh my. Oh my. My shoes aren’t shined, and now you’ve made the whole world aware. George Gobel-esk)

      I’ve spent all of this past month working on marketing just on the net…and now you point the light on one of the simplest, least expensive forms of marketing at which I’m failing.

      Thanks. My head is down tonight, but by tomorrow I’ll have taken your thoughts, Greg’s usual stellar ideas, and coupled them with my own idiosyncrasies to get my card(s) in first class condition.

    9. Teri Lussier August 14th, 2011 7:58 am

      My dad was anal about his shoes. Said you could tell everything you needed to know about someone by their shoes. But then again, he wore ostrich cowboy boots to my wedding so you may draw your own conclusions…

    10. Greg Swann August 15th, 2011 10:27 am

      > Greg, do you see any other Realtors using business cards in remotely creative ways?

      You already know the answer to that question. There are maybe a dozen Realtors, nationwide, doing any of the things we have talked about here.

      The worst part of the rent-seeking mentality is that folks suffering under it cannot conceive of actually earning a living. Looters don’t innovate. Looters don’t think.

      > I guess that leaves the door wide open for anyone looking for an inexpensive way to differentiate themselves from the herd.

      You bet. It’s hard to see it amid all the foreclosure devastation, but information asymmetries are massively diminished in residential real estate. If we ever get back to a non-government-dominated market, consumers will know a lot more about how to distinguish a looter from an entrepreneur.

    11. Greg Swann August 15th, 2011 10:32 am

      Here’s where I shop: https://www.overnightprints.com/

      The upsell is rush shipping, so, if you can wait a few more days, you can get gorgeous cards for minor ducats. I like the aqueous coating on both sides. It feels very rich, but you can’t write on it — a trade-off. If you have one of my cards, you can see how it feels for yourself.

    12. Greg Swann August 15th, 2011 11:13 am

      Even better, here’s a discount code that just came in the mail: STEAL2L

      Valid through 8/22.

    13. Teri Lussier August 15th, 2011 4:33 pm

      >You already know the answer to that question.

      I was hoping if I asked the question out loud the answer would be different.

      >Looters don’t innovate. Looters don’t think.

      They don’t have to do either, they just have to steal the idea. That’s how I go about it- I loot the BHB for cheap and easy ideas- like candy from a baby. My clients love BHB candy.

      >Even better, here’s a discount code that just came in the mail: STEAL2L

      Valid through 8/22.

      YAY!
      The coating makes a difference. Mine have a thick satin coating to them. Adds a nice luster and encourages rubbing your thumb across it.

    14. Wayne August 20th, 2011 6:42 am

      >>>“Sorry we accidentally let the cat out.” “What the hell is that smell?” You get my point.<<<

      @Teri… That is awesome!! I had a good belly laugh on that one. Great way to start my day :)

    15. Teri Lussier August 20th, 2011 12:59 pm

      @Wayne :-D
      But, really, what the hell is that smell?

      I ordered some Exit Realty vendor approved face advertising cards for prop management with my own .02 on the back, lifted from Bloodhound Realty and adjusted slightly in my own words. They are not too horrifying so I’m going to order some for the downline to leave at vacant homes for agents, see what kind of response I get.

    16. Janice Bovee August 24th, 2011 7:43 pm

      I love the idea of business cards for showings where you could leave comments. “Are you kidding me with that price?”, etc but seriously I never leave my card at a showing what’s the point especially when the property is vacant.

    17. Teri Lussier August 24th, 2011 8:52 pm

      >what’s the point especially when the property is vacant.

      I usually don’t leave my standard card at empty homes either. But, if you have any sort of recruiting or sponsoring opportunities with your brokerage you could leave a card for other agents. My new cards for this purpose should be delivered tomorrow. If you were a broker looking to bump the head count, you could do the same.

      Looking for a buyer’s agent? An assistant? A transaction manager? Closing coordinator? You could leave a biz card that was a Help Wanted Ad.

    18. Greg Swann August 24th, 2011 10:58 pm

      > Looking for a buyer’s agent? An assistant? A transaction manager? Closing coordinator? You could leave a biz card that was a Help Wanted Ad.

      Brilliant. Thank you.

    19. Ken Jansen August 27th, 2011 7:30 pm

      I like the idea of real estate segment specific cards. I have seen the listing specific cards and thought those were a nice idea. I had not thought about using different business cards for different areas – short sales, neighborhood specific or city specific. You might get some SEO benefits if you planned it out well. Thanks, that was worth stopping by. :)