Aren’t business cards just small pieces of paper that share contact information from one person to another?

They certainly can be (and often are) just that. No problem there. Except that you can do the same thing much quicker using your phone.

So for today’s agents, the question isn’t whether real estate business cards are obsolete. (They aren’t.) It’s this:

What if your business cards could perform the basic function of passing along your contact information while also going beyond that to foster a positive brand experience?

It’s possible. Your business cards can serve as valuable tools in your marketing and lead generation toolboxes. It’s not hard to learn how. All you need are these five tips.

1. Keep It Simple

The first tip for creating effective real estate business cards is to simplify your design. This is often the most difficult part for agents, which is understandable. There’s a lot to convey in a small amount of space.

But if you want it to be functional, memorable, and compelling, resist the temptation to cram as much as you can fit onto your business card.

Yes, there’s a lot you want to share about you and your business, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it all out on this one tiny piece of paper. In this case, less is more.

The Must-haves for Every Real Estate Business Card:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • The name of your brokerage or business
  • Your website address
  • Social media contact information (e.g., Facebook username and Instagram handle)

Everything else you add is extra. And too many extras result in a very busy design, which can distract from the essentials and have a negative impact on your brand image. Speaking of your brand, let’s turn there now for the second tip.

2. Remember: Real Estate Business Cards Promote Your Brand

During face-to-face real estate networking opportunities, your business card is often the first thing people see that conveys your brand image. And you can’t undo a first impression. They’ll remember your handshake and smile, of course. But they’ll also remember what they felt when they saw that card you handed them.

So for the sake of creating a cohesive and pleasant brand experience, pay close attention to the details of your business card design.

It should match your website and all of your marketing campaigns (i.e., social media pages, flyers, ad campaigns, etc.) in terms of its look and feel, from the colors to the font styling and everything in between.

Don’t misunderstand the first tip: Simple doesn’t mean boring. So have fun. Be creative. Show off your unique personality.

But as you’re going all out to stand out, keep this third tip in mind.

3. Don’t Be Weird About It

Ultimately, what will give you the edge over your competitors is your personality and expertise. Not your unforgettable business card. So there’s no need to waste too much time and energy scratching your creative itch to come up with the best real estate business card ideas.

Here are four design mistakes to avoid.

  • Don’t use low-quality stock photos. This creates one first impression: cheap. Most agents won’t need any photos at all, but if you do, take the time to find the best high-quality images and use them sparingly. The message of care that sends will be worth your effort.
  • Don’t make it a novelty. Stick to the standard card size and shape. Your prospects, leads, and clients shouldn’t have to open anything to find your business card, clip it on to their keychain, or piece it together. For example, don’t put it in a box or turn it into a puzzle. Remember: it’s a business card.
  • Don’t share irrelevant information. This isn’t a mini resume or a conversation-starter. Save your work history and your list of hobbies for another time.
  • Don’t think too far outside the rectangle. Oddly shaped cards might be fun and interesting, but they run the risk of getting lost (or trashed) if they don’t fit right in the pocket or wallet.

4. If You Use a Headshot, Use a Good One

There’s no rule that says all real estate business cards must have a headshot. But if you want to have one on yours, make sure it’s good. By “good” we mean two things:

  • It’s recent. The photo on your business card should look like you, not the decade-ago version of you.
  • It was shot by a professional. Don’t use a selfie or a snippet of your face that was cropped out of a family photo. Instead, leave it to the pros. Professional photographers know how to put you in the best light, so to speak.

But before you rush to book an appointment with your favorite photographer…

Hear From Some Experts

If you asked a group of real estate agents whether they think it’s necessary to include a headshot on their business card, you’d likely find that there are as many agents for headshots as there are against them.

Southern California broker/agent Mellissa Zavala is in both camps. She thinks some situations call for a card with her photo while others don’t. So she carries two: one with her picture (for “situations where I want people to remember more than just my name”) and one without.

Other agents feel that the photo is important, but not so much that it should take up the more valuable “real estate” of the tiny business card. In that case, they put their photo on the back.

As Eric Byrn (broker and adjunct professor at Loyola University) has pointed out, professionals in other industries don’t overemphasize their photo as many real estate agents do.

“A few years back we did a really cool test,” Byrn said. “We printed 2,000 postcards for a client. Same exact message on both. One had a picture of an agent on the card, and the other did not.” Each included an invitation to call a phone number (unique to each, for data collection purposes). He and his team sent out 1,000 of each card.

The results are pretty astounding:

  • Number of responses for the cards with the agent’s photo: zero.
  • Number of responses for the cards without the agent’s photo: almost 200.

Turns out, this wasn’t an aberration. For every one of Byrn’s subsequent tests, the marketing piece without the agent’s photo out-performed the one with the photo.

He and his colleagues have never found “a situation where an image of an agent increases conversation.” Instead, Byrn said, “what we find is that it completely obliterates it.”

Of course, this isn’t the final word on the matter. There’s no right or wrong. If you want to use a headshot for your real estate business card, go for it, but make it good. If you don’t, that’s fine too. But whatever you do, don’t waste the valuable space.

For example, “In the space where the headshot goes,” Byrn suggested, “why not add a core value statement?”

5. Consider the Paper Quality

When it comes time to print your real estate business cards, you’ll have many cardstock and paper quality options to choose from. It can get complicated.

There are two errors to avoid here. On one hand, you don’t want it to feel flimsy, right? And on the other hand, you don’t want to spend a fortune needlessly on extra thick, fancy paper. (Will anyone really be able to tell the difference between “great” and “really great” paper? Probably not.)

As you’re shopping, you’ll notice two kinds of measurements. The “point” measurement refers to the thickness. And the “pound” measurement refers to the weight of the paper.

To save you the time it takes to research, here’s our recommendation. If you’re looking for the standard, corporate feel of professional-grade quality, then 16-point, 130-pound cardstock is the way to go.

The Best Way To Create Real Estate Business Cards

Now that you know what to do (and what not to do), it’s time to get started.

There are at least two ways to approach it. One way is to design your own cards from scratch, using a free tool like Canva, and then finding a good printer and shipper.

But the easiest way to do it is to use a single-solution product built for real estate agents. That way you can create top-quality business cards within the same system through which you do all of your other marketing automation, lead generation, and contact relationship management work.

With Market Leader Professional, for example, you can work with a robust marketing center that enables you to…

  • Choose from a huge collection of pre-built templates (for business cards, flyers, and newsletters)
  • Personalize them with the marketing design editor (along with all of your other print materials)
  • Select the best paper quality
  • Order professional printing

Learn More