NUGGETS FOR THE NOGGIN
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown
Could not help but notice several posts on Facebook regarding "new" business cards. From what I could tell the reason there were "new" was because of their size. Here are my thoughts on business cards based upon my over 33 years in the real estate business.
You have to ask yourself, why would anyone want to keep my business card when I give it to them? Seriously, when people receive hundreds of business cards, why would yours stand out to the point they would want to keep it?
Most business cards are nothing more than examples of sameness with very few exceptions. Here are some of the features I have noticed over the years:
Starting in the mid to late 80's agents started to include their photo on the card. The photos were "real" photos of "real" people showing them as they really are not some of the glamour shot type photos you see today. In fact some of the photos are actually shocking and you have to ask yourself what some of these people are selling, real estate or sexual favors.
Most cards are printed only on one side so getting all the information you need to convey on one side of the card is most difficult. So sacrifices are made and the end result leaves all the pertinent data in very small print and people who have problems reading them usually don't so what was accomplished? For example, look at almost any business card you have and/or receive. Can you "easily" read the telephone number? Can you easily read the email address especially if it contains underscores and dashes in the address? Can you easily read the web address IF a web address was even included? Again, why do we all seem to want to make accessing the most important information on the card so difficult.
Some people still refrain from including their photo on their cards, why? This is especially true for people NOT in the real estate industry. Some people have a knack for remembering people by their names and their faces without any help. But most of us are not that fortunate. When a card does not contain a photograph you are relying on the person you give it to that they will remember you by your name and hopefully your face but that would be a rare case. When you see a face and a name it is much easier to recognize and remember.
Does your card tell the reader exactly what you do or sell? Most don't and leave it up to the recipient to remember what it is you do and why they gave you their card.
Is there something "catchy" on your card that draws attention to your card as compared to other cards they received? Most do not. For example a lot of real estate agents use the standard title of REALTOR®, or Real Estate Consultant or something similar. Why not something like "I Sell Real Estate" or "Selling New Orleans", something that makes the recipient say "Oh!".
It still goes back to the question, why would someone want to keep the card you gave them when they receive hundreds of cards and a lot of them are from other real estate agents? If you can't answer the question, you need to change your card.
Here are some thoughts on memorable business cards and the mere fact that I can recall them after so many years should tell you something.
- Vickie Carlton, RE/MAX in Dallas Texas. She has a single red rose theme. Her business card was black (before black cards were popular) and on it she had a single red long stem rose. I received her card and met her back in the early 90's yet I remember Vickie, what company she is with and the red rose.
- Sandra Nichols, owns her own company in Montgomery. She is known as "The Hat Lady". I don't know how many hats she owns but it is a lot. I received a Christmas card that shows a lone pine tree in a snow covered field and there were hats decorating the tree. I did not have to open the card to know who sent it. How's that for being memorable.
- Jeffrey Gitomer, author, speaker. His business cards are metal coins. How could you possible forget a card that is a metal coin?
- Jeannine Reeves, dentist. Her business card was also a very thin dental floss. Again how could you possible forget that card?
- Yours truly. I had two memorable cards, at least that is what people have told me when they tell me after 10 years they still have my card. The first card was a Baseball Card style. I had my photo taken in a red graduation cap and gown and gave me the title of Doctor of Real Estate and the reverse side of the card gave my statistics just like a baseball card.
- Yours truly. This was probably my best. I took a photograph of a bottle Pride furniture polish and Joy dish washing soap. It was an attractive photo and took up the entire back of my business card. When I would give someone the card it would go with an explanation, "This is a card you will want to keep in your wallet (or purse). When other people start showing you photographs of their pride and joys (dogs, cats, kids), you tell them let me show you my pride and joy and then show them your card." It always got a good laugh but more importantly people kept it.
Some agents have put Tip Charts on the back of their cards thinking that people would want to keep it to make it easier to calculate tips such as those you give at restaurants.
Some agents have mortgage calculator tables but frankly I found them confusing at best and would not recommend it.
You want to have your card stand out. You want it to be memorable. You want it to where people will keep it because it adds value like the tip chart. You want YOUR card to take up space in a wallet or purse and NOT your competition!
Here are some thoughts regarding the use of a business card.
You should never give your card immediately upon meeting someone. It signals "I'm selling!" Giving someone a business card should be the last thing you do almost as an afterthought. You should use your card to get their card.
If you are working with someone that you consider special or a very good prospect, you might want to leave your cell phone OFF of your business card. Then as you begin to hand them your card you take it back and say, "I feel real good that I should be able to help you so let me put my cell phone number on your card so you can reach me almost immediately." You then take out your pen and write your cell phone number on the card. If someone did that to you, how would that make you feel? I would feel special but then that's just me.
If you are meeting someone for the first time and you exchange cards, do not expect them to keep it. So you immediately write them a hand written thank you note and include your card and get it into the mail immediately. Just say how much you enjoy meeting them and if there is ever an opportunity to help them in their business (if that applies) you will do so and include your business card with your note. Two things happen when you do this. First they are impressed that you would take the time and it will give them a feeling of being valuable. Second, they will most likely ask themselves why they have not done this to the people they meet. In either case it sets you up as the consummate professional.
Just some random thoughts about business cards. I could be wrong but I seriously doubt it. By the way, here is the photo of my Pride and Joy just for you.