The Real Estate Business Card Blunder

Let’s face it, there are a lot of things that need to get better in this industry yesterday. Facebook, Twitter, Video, mobile and blogging may be what most are buzzing about, but there are also some basics that need to catch up.  Today I tackle business cards (pretty hard tackle).Business Card

Note: I reached out to a business card company knowing that I was writing this post and may inspire a few of you to get new cards.  They have offered all of our readers an exclusive TSA discount, details at the bottom of this post.

I am not interested in fighting the battle over whether or not the front of your business card should have your picture on it. I absolutely do not think it should and I will leave it at that.

I am more interested in helping you leverage the valuable real estate (pun intended) on the back of your business card.

To start, let us dissect the 3 most common backs of Realtor business cards. I can not back these 3 up with any hard data, but I do meet 1,000’s of real estate agents around the country from all major brands and small boutiques alike and quite honestly collect more Realtors cards than I think is healthy for one human being. If you feel I am off base in this assessment feel free to voice that in the comments below.  Here we go…

1. I LOVE REFERRALS – or as I like to call to it, I heart referrals.  Typically there is some additional verbiage about how you will take the same great care of my family and friends as you did me and that referrals are how you have grown your business.  So why doesn’t this make sense?  First and foremost how often do you give your business card out to people that you know extremely well and already helped?  Wouldn’t they already have your contact information if you did a deal for them?Broken Heart So, if that theory holds true and the majority of the time you are giving your card out to NEW prospects, the messaging makes ZERO sense.  We just met at the grocery store or coffee shop and you are already offering to help out my friends and family as well (salesperson)?  More so, do you really think that you can earn someones business as well as their sphere of influences business in an often 10 minute or less interaction?  I don’t, but hey that is just me.  Magnets, sports calendars and recipe’s are dead, please let I heart referrals die with them.  One last point, can you trace one single transaction to someone that said by golly I am going to call this guy and refer him someone because the back of his or her business card said I should?

2.  TIP CALCULATOR – or as I like to call it, separating yourself from your profession completely.  This one really bothers me.

AbacusFirst of all, maybe you haven’t seen the commercials, but there is an app (or a million apps) for that.  Do you honestly think that when people go out to Outback they pull out your card when the bill comes and use the chart on the back?  Even if they do (which again I am positive they don’t), would you care to argue that because they figured out 18% of their bloomin’ onion more quickly they then tie the value of that back to listing their home with you or referring you a buyer lead?You are a Realtor not a bartender, please stop doing that.

3.  BLANK – or as I like to call it, a complete waste of valuable space.  This one is pretty simple.

Blank Slate

There are 2 sides of a card, please use them both.  Considering your head-shot is more than likely taking up half the front, I could argue that the back of your card is the better half (sorry couldn’t resist).  I know that many of you will argue that you like to leave blank space to write, good news is that still can be done even if you leverage the back in the ways I am about to suggest.  With websites, blogs, social media resources and logos, both sides of your card need to be in play.If you are looking for more space to write, consider removing your picture…

So now to what I would have on the back of my card and a strategy that I am going to coin “The Anticipation Theory”.

When you are out and about and someone finds out that you are a Realtor what is the most common question that you get?  Are people asking you if you would like a referral from their friends and family?  Are they hoping that you can help them figure out their tip later that evening at Waffle House?  No.  Are they asking you to write something down for them? Probably not.

The most common question that real estate agents are getting is “How’s the Market?”.  So what does that question really mean?  It means that they have lost a lot of equity (in some markets upwards of 50%), have been inundated with doom and gloom from the national media.  Plain and simple they want to know what their home is worth through it all.How's the Market? Trust me, they do not care about the whole market they care about their street.  What is even sadder is that most real estate agents immediately reply to the question “How’s the Market?” with “It’s Great”.

I am all for blind optimism (not really) but if you want to fit nicely into the car salesman category that many consumers already put you into, keep saying the market is great when it isn’t.

I reread the above verbiage a few times before publishing this and felt like it was a little blunt.  The reason I left it the way it came out naturally is because as is my typical fashion I am about to offer you a solution to what I obviously feel are problems that lower the bar for OUR industry.

So here is my idea.  When someone asks you how the market is impress them immediately with the back of your business card, having addressed that question in advance.  Purchase a domain name that entails something along the lines of HowsTheMarketInYourNeighborhood.com.  Then let them know that because the market has completely changed, you have had to adapt by leveraging technology and have completely changed the way that you now market homes (thanks to Max Pigman for that one).  In fact, if they check out the website on the back of your card, they can see for themselves instantly how the market is on their street or neighborhood.  Here is an example of what I would land them on when they type in the domain.  Oh yeah, if they have any questions after they see the market statistics you provide them on that site, all of your contact information is on the front of the card and you would love to hear from them in the future.  Sure to impress, relevant, tech savvy and shows your expertise in the industry that you actually make a living in.

You may be wondering what technology to provide on the website that the domain name points to like in the above example.  My favorite “How’s the Market?” tech tool is called Market Snapshot (affiliate link).  It pinpoints their rooftop on a map as the center point and within 10 minutes of a request provides all of the live listing, sold and trend data from your MLS surrounding their home.Market Reports It then emails it to their inbox without you doing anything, resending an updated report monthly with current data each time.  All this branded only to you, the guy they met for 8 minutes at Target and asked how the market was.  Also, Altos Research has some great trend data tools you could point them to that again are visually impressive and addresses their #1 question directly.  If you aren’t looking to spend money (I can appreciate that btw) then just roll up your sleeves and keep a page on your site up to date at all times with MLS sold data broken down by area and point the domain name to that sub page for no cost.

Make more sense then a tip calculator or referral request?  I for one think so.  I hope you agree and take action.

As for QR Codes which I recently wrote about and shared strategies on, there should still be plenty of room on the back of your business card for one of those along side your new domain name.  I even found a company that generates a QR Code that when scanned adds your contact information directly into that persons cell phone address book.Biz Cards

I hope that this post will inspire change on a marketing piece that desperately needs it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post we have secured a discount of 15% for anyone that needs new cards now using the PROMO CODE: TSA

Visit their site now to take advantage of the discount which will expire on October 25th.  They offer custom or template business cards as well as the aforementioned QR Code technology that adds your contact info to anyone’s cell phone when scanned, outlined in the video below, all at a fair and competitive price.  Full disclosure, we are getting free cards from them to bring to the upcoming NAR convention for linking to them in this post.

Have a better idea for the back of a business card?  Agree or disagree with this strategy and thought process?  Would love to hear from you in the comments below!

    There are 48 responses to this post! Join in...

  1. Finally, I am not the only person who thinks that your picture on a business card is a waste of good “real estate” on your card! I am now going to forward this article to all the people who have given me grief about this. Thanks, Chris!

    I just got new business cards … would you recommend an add on sticker or something similar to the back or is that too tacky?

  2. Chris says:

    Aren’t you green? Extra sticker :(

  3. Eric Hempler says:

    This looks like a good project for me to work on today.

  4. I am green! The company bought the cards, so I didn’t have a choice to design them my own way. Definitely don’t want to waste what I’ve already got! :(

  5. Josh Aberson says:

    Chris, I’ve been saying this forever! Market snapshot is a great resource!

    Completely agree with the three main points, and actually hadn’t heard of the tip calculator thing before…

    Kudos,

    Josh

  6. Jean Richer says:

    DONE!!! I just registered my 2 domain names, for my local area and will start to implement this AMAZING idea. The timing is great as I am getting my business cards redesigned (with no picture)

    Thank you Chris for the timely post.

    Coming soon ….
    HowsTheMarketInOttawa.com
    HowsTheMarketInOrleans.com

    Jean Richer
    Ottawa, ON

  7. Drew says:

    Wanna talk about lame… I’ve run into a couple of guard/gated communities here in Newport Beach, CA and surrounding cities where if you don’t have a picture on your card they won’t let you in!! Even if you have your government issued ID for comparison.

    Anyway, great post for some other options. I’ve almost put the tip calculator on my card just to have something but luckily came up with a better idea. Thanks for more options.

  8. Eric Hempler says:

    Is there a way to get market snapshot without going through top producer or is there something similar?

  9. Chris Day says:

    Haha, I have my pic, I have the referral quote, and I have special lines just for notes on the back of my card… I DON’T have my FB, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Time for a change!

  10. gary ashton says:

    MArket snapshot is good, but don’t underestimate the value of having your picture or team picture on a business card. Subliminally a picture can work on a number of different levels, showing professionalism, a perceived level of support, reinforcing the brand you have created etc.

    The other benefit for the picture is that people actually remember you. Going to meetings where people share their business card and then trying to place the owner of the card..ie match them to the person I remember talking to…is much easier when they have a picture..most industries avoid it as it seems cheesy but it really does help…and it should be part of your branding.

    The QR code is definitely an excellent idea..I’ll look in to that :)

    Thx

    Gary

  11. Laurel Jack says:

    Chris – have you heard about Listing Book and if so, how would you compare it to Market Snapshot? I haven’t seen it just yet, but I know it can provide sold info around a home of ones choice and the price is FAR less. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks. And thanks for the awesome post, am taking it to heart and will make changes.
    Laurel

  12. Laurel Jack says:

    one more question…on obtaining the “how’s the market” domain names…does .net, .biz, .info versus .com make a difference?

  13. Here you go again stirring the post Chris :)

  14. Just ordered new cards last week! There’s no more space left on the back- it’s filled will all of my online presence url’s. Will go with the QC code next time!

  15. Eric Johnson says:

    Great call to action!

    This post has convinced me to replace my referral line with a “Got housing questions? Check out my website for latest market info.”

    I’m also going to get rid of my fax number and address.

    I will add a QR code (1″ square) to my mobi site on the back of my business cards. This leaves plenty of space to jot a note down.

    Thanks again, Eric Johnson
    WestValleyGreenHomes.com
    @ItsEric on Twitter

  16. Sage Dillon says:

    I have to confess, I’m coming around to including a picture. When I come across an old card that I got who-knows-where (because I forgot to use the blank space on the back to write down details), a face can be a good memory jog. That said, the picture needs to be 1) recent-ish, 2) good.

    Adding a link to market stats on the back? Very smart. I like it.

  17. Teri Conrad says:

    Market snapshot looks cool Chris! We have our twitter and FB on our cards as well as our logo but no pics of Ken or I ;)
    Cheers!

  18. Chris,

    I have put a lot of effort into name and face recognition and I have people coming up to me all the time saying they recognize me. I agree some faces are better off not being on the card but a professional head shot will be on my cards!
    I do like the innovative use to the back of the card with the QR Code. I will definitely use that idea!

  19. Eric Johnson says:

    Why vyoo.it works with postlets for making QR codes. What’s a good site for makine a personal QR code for my biz signs?

    What size should QR codes be? I’m doing 1″ sq on my biz card. Should Realtor listing signs be 4×4″, 6×6″ or something bigger?

    Thanks, Eric

  20. This is definitely a great idea and much better use of the card “real estate” than tips calcs or the referral line. Since I’m on my last 50 cards, I’ll definitely be ordering new ones and this is something worth adding!

    I also agree with Gary that including a picture definitely has it’s value on your business card. However, we then start running into the “real estate” problem of just not enough space!

    You have: Logo and slogan, Picture, Name, Title, Phone, Fax, E-mail, Website, QR-code, Fair housing, Realtor, and company logos, Designations and their logos, possibly your physical address, and “HowsTheMarket” website(s)… do you also do twitter, facebook, blog and LinkedIn logos or sites?

    I guess the question is, where do these rank these in order of importance as well as on which side of the card?

  21. Cheryl Allin says:

    Another fantastic post with genius, actionable advice! Great job!

    One little extra idea that could tie in with your suggestion – on the new “How’s The Market” site you build, be sure to place a ‘call to action’ so the visitor can sign up for updates on the market or get your newsletter or subscribe to your blog!

  22. Robin says:

    The big question is … do people really recognize you because your face is on a card or because you are out in the community? I am recognized ALL the time as well … and my face isn’t on my card or any marketing materials. People CLEARLY don’t need my face on my card to remember who I am or what I do.

    Photos on business cards are about as outdated as listing binders or index cards in offices!

  23. Don Corson says:

    Just got new cards a few weeks ago with a giant picture of my mug on it (takes up half the front). BUT I used a photo that sends a bit of a message (and not that I’m on the phone all the time or that I love my puppy). I did put on the back, “Find me online” with all my profiles and web sites…

  24. Thanks Chris, AWESOME, as usual! I guess if, when you hand your card to someone and you’ve put something TOTALLY DIFFERENT on the back and you end up having a conversation about that, then you won’t need your picture on the front anyway because they’ll remember you. Now to get crackin’ on my order of cards! ;)

  25. Cool, Thanks. I will be using all of your ideas, and great comments from all of you guys.

    Thanks.

  26. Colin Storm says:

    Have always been against the photo on the front, but did get advice from a gent who places fortune 500 execs to keep two sets of cards, 1 with photo, 1 without and give them out accordingly. Still haven’t bit on that, but the option is out there and cards are so cheap there is no reason not to do both if you are worried about it.

    Agree though, the photo has to be professional, and I am not sure the standard headshot with backdrop will remain so much longer (or even remains so now). Needs to be modern professional done by an experienced and at least moderately artistic photographer. What I love are the dated pictures that don’t do justice to how great a person looks now.

    Or, how about this. If you use a consistent image for your social profiles have a small thumbnail of that on the back to highlight those profiles on your card. Use it as a design element rather than a feature.

    So, I didn’t intend to mention images in this comment, but there you go.

  27. Mark Caley says:

    Picture on front can be useful as way to identify, jog memory, etc. but agree completely better ways to use the back of the card. Great post I can use to make some worthwhile changes. Maybe you have some thoughts on how better to use the front of the card?

  28. I like these ideas a lot and it just so happens that i’ve been working on a new design for a business card. I’ve been contemplating the picture vs no picture… I’ll be adding a QR Code to a lead capture landing page on my site and I don’t have Market Snapshot, but I like the idea of it and right now they’re running a promotion for $15 off monthly if you sign get Market Snapshot AND topproducer and since I already have TP, it’d be an extra 85 instead of 99 a month. I’m just not sold on market snapshot and i wonder if i can better spend those 85 on something else…

    Too bad Listingbook doesn’t have something that is a direct replacement for market snapshot…

    Any ideas?

    ps: snagged howsthemarketinatlanta.com and .info~

  29. Chris says:

    There is nothing like snapshot Terence. That’s why I plugged it.

  30. Love the idea for domain name on back of card leading to market snapshot. Would be even better if it ianded on a personalized squeeze page with video to collect email before giving full access to searching home or market snapshot.

  31. Good article. Did not mention Facebook, Twitter, etc. on back of card.
    Should these be on front of card?

  32. Raygan says:

    One of the agents in my office uses business cards to market her listings and uses that card as her contact info. Both sides of the card has photos of the house, a single property site domain name, a description of the listing and her photo and contact info.

  33. Great post as always. I am new to RE and never really understood why agents put a picture in the card. especially when some of the photos are not professionally done. I still followed the heard and put my pic on the front. I did just buy http://www.howsthemarketinlouisville.com and will like to my blog asap. I cannot afford the T8 but will put up my own information. It is about lead generation anyway.

  34. Good stuff, Chris! Great timing for me, too, as I just switched brokers and need to get new business cards. (I’ve never had a picture on my card, btw.)

    Regarding the “How’s the Market” idea, I recently created some Google Finance type charts on my WordPress site to compare $/sqft, DOM, and sales for a few different communities in my area using a free Flash charting tool called amCharts. It is no cost to me. Just the time to dump the data into CSV format.

    http://cyfairrealestate.com/cypress-neighborhood-comparison-charts/

    Great idea to create an alias URL to point to this page for my business cards.

    If anybody has any interest in doing something like this, feel free to contact me via my site’s contact form.

  35. Lauryn Eadie says:

    Love the post! Perfect! and totally agree….BLUNTNESS NEEDED

  36. I just stumbled across “Tableau” which appears to be another way to easily add cool “How is the Market?” charts and graphs to a website / blog.

    http://www.tableausoftware.com/

    I have not tried this yet myself but plan on doing so today.

  37. I like the ideas. QR code is one of my favorites still but the addressing market questions is a good one too.

  38. Colin Storm says:

    a FREE source for vector based social icons for those of you looking to act on the advice above.

    http://icondock.com/free/vector-social-media-icons

  39. Doug Osgood says:

    I think the picture gives the client an idea of what you look like if they haven’t met you and later on a face to remember who you were. I’m not saying it needs to be prominent or take the best real estate on the card, where ever that might be. Research anyone?

  40. Do any of you do more creative cards or plastic cards? The generic business card gets ignored regardless of content. I do premium cards with ridges and dual tones that always get good reviews but recently looking into plastic cards.

  41. QR codes on business cards are a great idea. Now do you think we should have it link to our website or have it add as a contact in their phone like the connection card offers?

    Thanks!

  42. Ron Nedd says:

    Pretty interesting – I just read this today and last week I redid my card for the first time in 5 years and did a 2-sided card with info on the back for how to download my mobile app.

  43. Jason Pinto says:

    Here’s an example of how a QR Code could be used on a business card – The QR Code takes people to a casual video of the CEO from Grow Socially. He introduces himself, and briefly discusses what his company does.

    Here’s a picture of the card: http://ilnk.me/4f92

  44. I agree – tip calculators at the back of business cards make me cringe!

  45. Hilarious and great advice from – clearly not in real estate. I’m actually ordering new cards because this makes sense (mine do not have photo, but will).

    1. Referrals – a great agent asks for the referral. The card/email not is an easy way out. You need to ask though, because most people are not Realtors and don’t make the connection of “my friend wants to sell a house and I know a great Realtor.” Sales is sales, and Realtors sell themselves.

    2. Tip Calculators – really, are people still doing that? The initial though was people would keep your card in their pocket and take it out at dinner and their friends would see it and say, “that’s neat” and let you sell their $2M home. Now they say, don’t be a retard, get an I-phone.

    3. Blank – yeah, I did that so people could write on it and maybe 1 person did in 5000 – I wrote on plenty and chucked them after. I’ll add my face and more info to the next set – that I’ll be ordering now and adding some great advice from this blog. -Joe Mac, Realtor

  46. Joe says:

    Just saw this post. It’s 12-16-2011. Major bummer that Market Snapshot is via TopProducer. Has it always been? Maybe TP saw how great Market Snapshot was and bought them out.

  47. Steve Pacinelli says:

    Joe- Top Producer brought Market Snapshot to market. They created it and have always owned it.

  48. Gary Boyer says:

    Keep the back of your business card blank and use it for everything. Write a note to the waitress who waits on you that she did a great job & leave your card. Write down a web site you recommend. Write down your favorite restaurant you are recommending to a friend. Whenever anyone asks you anything, write a note on the back of your card and give it to someone, anyone who will take it. I compliment anyone and everyone who I do business with on the back of my business card and give it to them. I can assure you, they show it to others. Wasted Space? That blank back is the most valuable space you have, but only if you use it!

What do you think?