18 July 2009

Why Do Realtors Put Their Pictures on Business Cards?

We’re in the process of selling our house, and I got to thinking (often a dangerous thing). Why do Realtors put their pictures on business cards? (And on ads, brochures, shopping carts, signs, etc.) I’ve heard many explanations, but none are really convincing. “It’s a relationship business.” “It’s recognition.” “It’s vanity in a vain industry.” “It’s expected, since everyone else does it.” (This one makes a little sense – kind of like a negative feedback loop.)

Maybe all are a little true, maybe none. But from a sales and marketing perspective it doesn’t really make sense. A model or actor might put their photo on their card, but their face is their product; they are their brand. A Realtor’s product is a house, it’s not themselves. And a Realtor’s brand is more related to the company they work for than to themselves.

From a sales standpoint, it’s wasted real estate (sorry about that very bad pun) on the card/ad/brochure. The space that is used for an agent’s photo could be better used for another photo of the property, or a testimonial from a satisfied past customer, maybe a throw-away feel-good tag line (“An Agent Who Really Cares”), or even a special offer. (“10% off my commission in July” – Ha!)

Nonetheless, although I’ve read postings on blogs from folks claiming to be (usually ex-) Realtors who didn’t have a photo on their card, I’ve never seen one myself (sort of an urban legend, like the alligators in the sewers of New York). And I’ve never chosen a Realtor by their look or their picture.

Guess it’s just another mystery of the universe, such as: Where do missing socks from the laundry really go? Why do you feel colder when it’s cold and humid, but when it’s hot and humid you feel hotter?