There’s always something to howl about

For real estate promotion, the business card form factor is a tiny little workhorse . . .

Rory Siems at Laguna Niguel Real Estate Blog has a post on using business cards for collateral promotion. I think this is a fantastic idea. In cost-benefit terms, the business card form factor may be the perfect print ad medium. It’s pretty lousy for conveying a lot of information, but it is an extremely portable, pocketable format for inciting interest and directing that interest to where the details can be delivered in detail.

We use business cards whenever we want to target-market homes or individuals. I can hold my own hand for the design — kludgey but proficient — so we can turn a new set of cards around in 48 hours or less. They’re inexpensive to buy, to ship and to distribute, so we can put 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 cards on the street in no time at all.

A primary application is ‘Open House’ announcements. We don’t do ‘Just Listed’ cards. We’d rather have potential buyers come and see the house for themselves. If we can clearly identify the neighborhoods where our buyer should be living, we’ll broadcast ‘Open House’ cards house-by-house. The cards above are typical ‘Open House’ cards. We always use the back of the card. The back copy you’re seeing here is very similar to the back copy we use on our personal business cards.

We do do ‘Just Sold’ cards, because we want for the nearby neighbors to apprehend the quality of effort we bring to our listings. Every card we do for a listing will promote that home’s custom web site, of course. The flyer boxes we use have a special pocket for business cards near the top. That way, if someone doesn’t want to take a flyer, they can take a card instead. Often, we will use the home’s card in the ‘Take One’ flyer stand inside the house, as well.

The image above to the right is the back of a ‘Just Sold’ card. I believe in the power of the written word. Almost always with a card like this, I’m going to use the front face to sell the specific idea and the back face to sell the general philosophy. We do a lot more than our competitors when we list a home for sale, and the neighbors know it, but part of the job of a card like this is to make sure the neighbors know it.

The card to the right is a lifestyle card. In this case, we’re going to sell the general idea of the lifestyle on the front of the card, then cite two live listings on the back of the card. Even with an ‘Open House’ card, there’s almost no room for text, so I don’t waste a word on features. I want to sell lifestyle first, benefits second and features last. I think those geraniums do more to sell the idea of in-city living than anything I could do with bullet points.

If you live where we list, we want to be on your refrigerator. One of the first things I’ll do in your house is quickly read your refrigerator. I want to know who I’m up against. And I make no secret of the fact that I don’t ‘get’ most Realtor marketing. If I’m going to make it onto your refrigerator, I would hope it’s for your reasons and not for mine. In any case, the card below is our current refrigerator magnet.

I have one more thought on this, but I can’t illustrate it because we haven’t done it yet. We’re going to build a door hanger out of the 10 unique Bloodhound benefits copy. Our plan is to build die-cuts into that, small slits on the bias, to permit the insertion of business card sized pieces into the door hanger. It will increase our costs somewhat, but it gives us the ability to sell small and sell large at the same time.

We do other form-factors. We like 6″x4″ post cards, for example, and a soon as there is a decent, economical waterproof stock, I’m taking all of my listing flyers to the slim-jim format, four-color printing on both sides. But for the day-to-day work of promoting our listings and promoting our business, the business card format is our tiny little workhorse.

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