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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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Related posts:
  • Seth on business cards — of particular interest to Realtors and lenders
  • Flash your business card and show us your marketing philosophy
  • Say “Cheese!” It’s time to play Business Card Monte

  • 33 comments

    33 Comments so far

    1. Justin Smith September 20th, 2006 12:08 am

      Hey Greg,
      I just had a couple of questions about this post… where do you hand out the business cards you have printed for individual properties? And, where do you have these printed? Somewhere local or online?

      Thanks for the input. It was a great post… I’m always trying to soak up those marketing ideas!

      Thanks again,
      Justin Smith
      Christian Real Estate Network

    2. Jim Messenger September 20th, 2006 6:50 am

      Hi Greg,

      Love the cards. Great Job!

      Are you handing these out door-to-door? I’ll create a post on our forum today and see if we can’t get you a little bit of “link love”. Your post deserves it.

      Jim

    3. Jersey Girl September 20th, 2006 10:15 am

      I used business cards for a book I wrote…I wrote a letter to each school and included a business card as well with information…Postcards were also used…nice post. At a spa I work with, we used business cards for coupons as well…inexpensive, easy to mail with promotions, or easy to hand out.

    4. Matt September 20th, 2006 10:54 am

      Great way to promote something. Thanks for the good read! My How To is up also if you want to check it out.

    5. Greg Swann September 20th, 2006 5:31 pm

      > where do you hand out the business cards you have printed for individual properties?

      They’re distributed door-to-door.

      > And, where do you have these printed? Somewhere local or online?

      http://www.overnightprints.com/

      Excellent color, quality, turn-around and price.

    6. Greg Swann September 20th, 2006 5:31 pm

      > I’ll create a post on our forum today and see if we can’t get you a little bit of “link love”.

      Bless you. Thank you.

    7. Jim Messenger September 20th, 2006 8:08 pm
    8. Olivia September 20th, 2006 10:08 pm

      Definitely unforgettable cards. Use of an old format in a creative, original way. Kudos to you!

    9. MamaDuck September 21st, 2006 9:33 am

      What a great idea, I think other types of businesses would also have a use for this idea…. Our how-to is up as well if you’d like to check it out!!

    10. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    11. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    12. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    13. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    14. [...] For real estate promotion, the business card form factor is a tiny little workhorse [Bloodhound]. Glenn says its all in the cards. [...]

    15. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    16. Rory September 25th, 2006 9:21 am

      I first saw the idea for these cards on the HomeCards website
      In addition to doing the printing, they do the layout and design for you.

      The difference is that you don’t need any graphics skills whatsoever to use homecards.

      When you use overnight prints you should bring some design and layout skills to the table.

      I do think that the quality is better on homecards though, because they are all high quality stock and UV coated in addition to having the professional look and feel.

    17. Greg Swann September 25th, 2006 10:01 am

      > When you use overnight prints you should bring some design and layout skills to the table.

      Very true. I can’t stand not controlling my own images, so that part works well for me.

      > I do think that the quality is better on homecards though, because they are all high quality stock and UV coated in addition to having the professional look and feel.

      They sound equal to me: 15pt card stock, optional UV coating front and back. Slicker than whale snot. I hate normal printing, so we’re always shopping for outrageous quality.

    18. HomeCards September 25th, 2006 10:23 am

      HomeCards are great and allow you to carry all of your listings at once, which has been found to be a huge benefit. Great for networking, conventions and the unexpected.

      Going to a one-stop shop is typically easier than ordering from a print shop like Overnight Prints because the one-stop-shop does all of the work for you and provides the stands and everything for the cards.

      I have seen a lot of top agents with these HomeCards and the demand is getting higher. Great idea!

    19. [...] For Real Estate Promotion, the Business Card Form Factor is Tiny Little Workhorse by Greg [...]

    20. [...] Since then, with each new listing, we’ve added ideas. I’ve written at length about our web sites, our custom signs, our ideas about promotional copy and about using the business card form factor for our promotional pieces. Cathy got her Property Staging Consultant certification earlier this year, and she has made vendor relationships for dealing with chores running from the painfully onerous to the painstakingly dainty. Going through our benefits page, there are half-a-dozen other services we provide to our sellers that the Realtors we compete against do not do. [...]

    21. [...] While their favorite was the 102 posts at Sellsius, I found the blog on using business cards as marketing tools from BloodhoundBlog very interesting. [...]

    22. [...] Greg Swann presents For real estate promotion, the business card form factor is a tiny little workhorse . . . posted at BloodhoundBlog — The weblog of BloodhoundRealty.com, saying, “In cost-benefit terms, the business card form factor may be the perfect print ad medium.” [...]

    23. [...] However: For real estate promotion, the business card form factor is a tiny little workhorse. Here’s a Black Pearl that’s not in that post: People fear commitment. Taking a flyer from your flyer box can seem to them to be too much like risking being “sold” by you, you Loki-like trickster. We buy flyer boxes that have a little pocket at the top for business cards. If someone won’t take the flyer, they just might take the much smaller, less threatening business-card-sized flyer we make for the home. After the “Sold” rider goes on, we swap out to our business cards or to a card promoting us as listers. [...]

    24. Dan Sullivan January 20th, 2008 4:34 pm

      Greg;

      As a newer agent, I have been using your blog / website as an advanced Real Estate Marketing course. I have recently been trying out the business cards as a door-to-door promotional tool. I think they are great as an inexpensive, yet impressive way to get information out.

      I am curious about how you distribute – I work in neighborhoods with older brick homes. Most have a small mail slot next to the door, and I feel that the cards can easliy get lost in the mix. The same with stand-alone mailboxes…so easy for the cards to be pushed to the back.

      I have been taping the cards to the front door (often a storm or security door) with a very small piece of tape. They definitely get noticed that way. I have never had a complaint, and it is not an uncommon practice around here, but I am not entirely comfortable with it. I worry that some people may be offended by the tape and intrusion.

      I try never to tape to a paint surface or anything that could be damaged, so I am often stuck just pushing them into the mailbox and hoping for the best.

      I know this seems like a small issue, but I want to start on the right foot with my marketing. Any ideas? What do you do?

    25. Greg Swann January 20th, 2008 4:45 pm

      We use tape, also. We don’t love it, but it’s the best method we’ve come up with. Note that it is unlawful to put anything in a mailbox or mail slot — USPS only.

    26. Dan Sullivan January 20th, 2008 4:53 pm

      Wow- thanks for mentioning that. Scary to think that I was breaking federal law in my efforts to be polite.

      Good to know.

    27. [...] We buy a lot of business cards — thousands for every house we list for sale. My relationship with OvernightPrints.com is utterly ideal: I prepare my files exactly the way I want them, FTP them to their server, pay by credit card — and then worry about my next chore. My cards are often printed within minutes, and the big delay in the whole procedure is the shipping process. [...]

    28. [...] this inaugural episode, we start by talking about my post on using the business card form factor for doing low-cost broadcast door-to-door promotion. We talk about some ways that we deploy custom-made business card-sized promotional pieces, how we [...]

    29. [...] Building business-card-sized Open House invitations. I do this, printing them with OvernightPrints.com. We print these in the thousands. [...]

    30. [...] Building business-card-sized Open House invitations. I do this, printing them with OvernightPrints.com. We print these in the thousands. [...]

    31. Susan Zanzonico July 19th, 2008 7:03 am

      Great post. You have such creative, good information on your cards and they are different from most I see. I will have to check out overnight prints and homecards, not sure how much designing skills are needed. I knew we weren’t allowed to put anything in the mail boxes, but I’m not too comfortable going from house to house taping on doors either. Also, that could be very time consuming as some of the neighborhoods here have bigger lots. I an option would be to just do a mailing and include the card, but that does get costly.

    32. [...] in the same we someone else might launch a new car or a new kind of dishwasher or a new magazine. Those business-card-sized Open House cards will be distributed to 6,000 homes. We’ll get a 1% or at most 2% response on that effort [...]

    33. Laguna Niguel Real Estate December 21st, 2008 3:47 am

      I’m a graphic designer and really like these cards.