As we’re all spending a lot more time contemplating what our marketing looks like in the future, you should definitely take some time to look at your business card design with fresh eyes and avoid making these mistakes.  

In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This spring, go Back to Basics with Inman.

Way back in mid-February (seems like years ago, doesn’t it?), I flew to Orlando to attend my first Sell-A-Bration, the annual conference of CRS designees hosted by the Residential Real Estate Council

Currently, the minimum number of transactions required to join is 60, so the CRS Realtor pool is quite an experienced one. In the conference setting, attendees showed off their relentless networking skills and personality more than any conference I’ve ever attended. There were more cards traded during that conference than at a Pokemon convention.

Although the traditional business card might seem a little old-fashioned, or even discouraged these days when we’re skeptical about the germs, I don’t think business card collateral is going to fade anytime soon. 

After receiving about 100 at the event, I saw some clear winners and losers in graphic design. As we’re all spending a lot more time contemplating what our business and marketing looks like in the future, definitely take some time to look at your business card design, and avoid making these mistakes.

1. Old headshots

Agents seem split on whether to include a headshot on their business card. Yes, connecting a name with a face helps people remember you, good or bad. 

If you’re going to include a headshot, make sure it’s a professional photo — and current. No 1985 glamour shots with lightning bolts and Aqua Net hair. 

No floating heads with the photo background removed. And maybe reconsider the power pose. Think “friendly and approachable” instead.

Showing up to an appointment looking nothing like your headshot is a quick way to lose your client’s trust

2. Too much text

Ever seen one of these on a business card?

  • I’m never too busy for your referrals.
  • Top producer.
  • Bringing you home.
  • Luxury …
  • Everything I touch turns to sold.

Instead of junking up your card with trite tag lines, when giving out your business card, use the opportunity to create a human connection and show your value. 

3. Not having options

If you have different audiences, how about making different cards for each? You could have cards you give to other agents for referral purposes, cards for buyers, cards for sellers, cards for military or investor clients and cards for any other niche you serve allows you to put a different image on the back of each card in your order for no extra charge.  

4. Giving too much information

Your business card is not a resume. It’s the basic information that creates the spark of memory and communicates your relevance. The more text you include, the smaller the font must be, thus the harder it is to read. 

More graphics and all those designation badges and statistics mean cluttered design and distraction, and to me, it seems a little desperate. 

The recipient isn’t looking to interpret data when reading your card. Think about a single sentence you want to communicate, and make sure your business card says that and not much else.

5. Using clever shapes

Are you tempted to try something besides the typical rectangle? Square, perhaps? Or even a house-shaped cutout?

They can be cute, and a house shape certainly communicates what you do, but make sure you can edit your text to fit the new shape well. 

Consider that a typical square card has 42 percent less space than a rectangular one. And if you’re distributing hard-copy brochures, pre-cut folders provide slots for rectangular cards.  

6. Including QR Codes

Let’s leave the past in the past, shall we? Even worse, I tested the cards with QR codes I picked up, and many of the links were broken.  

7. Not having important information

Especially if you’re using your card to network with other agents, make sure it’s obvious where you work. This goes for all of your social media accounts, too! The “eastern shore” or the “tri-state area” is meaningless to someone outside your local market. I can Google your area code, but I’d rather not have to. 

8. Using low-quality materials

In the context of a real estate business, cards are not expensive. Spend a little to make sure you’re getting the professional quality you want to represent your business. 

Professional design, or at least a vetted, company-provided template is a must. Skip the mishmash of colors and fonts, and stick to the basics.

Your introduction by business card is often the first indicator of who you are as an agent. Cheap, faded and haphazard are not part of your intended message.

There are millions of options for designing your business card, and many people get carried away with the possibilities, but sticking to the basics and communicating a simple message in a straightforward manner with your audience can never be wrong. 

Alison Wisnom is an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Annapolis, Maryland. She is also a veteran and enjoys helping military clients relocate to the D.C. area. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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