by Thom Hiatt

Last night I hosted a seminar for a group of southern California real estate agents. The topic was “taking advantage of social media and e-marketing.” Before the seminar got started, I had the chance to sit and talk with one of the women in attendance. She told me that she had some new business cards made a couple of months ago. I said, “Great,” and then asked, “Have you been able to give them out to a lot of people?”

She replied saying, “No,” and that not too many people had asked her for one. I quickly realized that she had not attended one of my seminars before. Then I told her, “From here on out, you might want to offer them to people before they have a chance to ask for one. In fact, give them two: one for themselves, and one for a friend.” And always ask permission. It goes like this:

It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Mr. Smith…. Can I give my business card to you? And maybe you have a friend who would like to have one, too.” And you simply hand them over.

By now, Mr. Smith is already thinking of which friend he might give one to… while he is looking for his own card to give to you.

When you get back to the office, be sure to write to him by email, remind him that it was nice meeting today. Mention a solution you provide and that you are available when he needs your help…

Business cards are simply the most inexpensive / cost-effective way to market yourself or your company. Whether you paid 3¢ each or 30¢ each, it’s a fantastic investment. Sure, a hundred cards handed out might turn into only a handful of calls. But a box of 1000 cards is worth it. You’ll make your money back no doubt…. certainly faster than if those cards are sitting in a box collecting dust.

Same goes for brochures, flyers, etc. Print them by the thousands. And make sure that every man, woman, and child knows what you do for a living and that you are ready, willing, and able to help. Give your cards to everybody, two at a time.

Just imagine being a real estate agent and waking up one day to find that your neighbor’s house is for sale. You see the sign in his yard, blowing in the wind, and you can see that the name of the selling agent is NOT you. And you wonder how times you told your neighbor that you are a great agent… or how many times you didn’t tell him.