Photos on business card

My wife and I are currently looking to buy a new home. We went to view a vacant house a few days ago. I wasn’t very interested in that property but while my wife and the real estate agent were poking around I looked at the previous visiting agents business cards on the kitchen counter. Of the 35 business cards laying there, 33 of them had the picture of the agent on it. (For those who never went house hunting, it is standard practice for a visiting agent to leave a business card at the house for the owner/selling agent).

I know of no other profession that the business person feels the need to include a photo of themselves on their business card. I have received hundreds of business cards over the years from engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, sales people, etc. and no other profession (that I am aware of) puts a photo of themselves on their card (although occasionally insurance agents will, IIRC).

Why do real estate agents need their picture on their business card? This also seems to happen when they have an ad in the newspaper.

Just wondering.


Mods: I put this in IMHO since I don’t know if there is a factual answer to this question. Move to another forum at your pleasure.

I don’t know the answer, but I can confirm that real estate agents do the same thing here. I’ve never seen anyone else do it either.

I believe insurance agents have been known to do it. I can’t prove it offhand, but I definitely know where there’s a billboard near my house that features an insurance agent’s smiling face.

I don’t know why they do it either, but the real estate agents here in DC tend to do it as well. I also saw a few loan officer’s business cards which did it as well.


I think it is because, other than word of mouth from satisfied clients, real estate agents don’t have a lot of ways to market themselves except by showing you their sweet, trustworthy faces. What can they say? I won’t cheat you? I charge less than the others? Recently, I have seen billboards that say buy your house through me and use my moving truck for free.

I’ve always wondered if having their pictures on their cards doesn’t cause some of the women, in particular, to be targeted by weirdos.

WAG – might it be because there are so damn many of them? Suppose the homeowner wants to find one – you know, the tall woman with the red hair and the overbite – and doesn’t remember her name or which company she works for. By having the pix on the cards, it makes it easier to find the one you’re looking for.

Real Estate person checking it. It’s strictly a security precaution. What’s to stop anyone who finds your card from using it to gain access to someone’s house and commiting unspeakable acts when inside? YOUR PHOTO, that’s what.

Most homeowners in this area won’t let an agent in without a photo card.

Thanks Annie. That makes sense but it seems to be a very low level of security to me (what would prevent a person from getting a bunch of fake business cards printed up?). But at least there is a reason for the photo.


I’m a OB/GYN RN and I have my baby picture on my card, me looking very troubled at age 18 months or so. My husband designed it and I’ve had nothing but positive comments, especially from the docs. They joke that I had a kind of baby intuition that I’d end up as a nurse and the photographer captured that expression.
Cyn, RN

Making up a batch of fake business cards would take more planning, time and money than just finding a generic card somewhere and putting it to ill use. If anyone has a question about the person, they can always ask to see their driver’s license and/or call the office. No one in our office would take offense at that.

<looks at his Realtor’s card> It never occurred to me that there would be a security aspect to business cards with photos, but now that I know, it does make some sense. This card has his photo, plus a handful of logos physically stamped into the card with gold on them.

A would-be creep can’t just pop into the nearest Kinkos or Office Max and have them dink up some full-color cards with gold embossing in an hour. A would-be creep with a reasonably good inkjet printer and business card blanks still can’t do the gold foil stamping.

As Annie points out, it’s one thing to swipe an agent’s card from the pile on the kitfchen counter as a crime of opportunity, but a whole 'nother thing to have someone so interested that they actually make bogus cards. And truthfully, if someone’s that interested in it, they’ll buddy up with someone at a print shop that does the real foil-stamped cards.

I recently bought a house and noticed the same thing. My agent told me that it was both for security and marketing. (The only one i saw without a picture was from a woman who could curdle milk.)

Although Annie X-mas is the expert here, I have to put in a plug for the marketing function as well. Like cub mistress said, it is a hard business to advertise. I am a psychologist, and we have marketing issues, too, in that we can’t offer lower prices, etc. One thing I read was to always put your picture on materials, because people are more likely to call someone they have seen, even in a picture. Sort of a reassurance you don’t at least look like a complete weirdo. :slight_smile: Anyway, this book phrased it as “unless you are very unattractive, use a photograph.” For some reason, that amused me.

According to my wife, a RE:

"I’ve never heard of it as a security precaution and I’ve never even had a homeowner ask for my card before letting me in. I usually just throw it in the pile on the kitchen table as I’m showing the house.

The reason we use pictures here is memorability. There are thousands of agents in our area, and not everyone out there is going to remember their agent’s name…but you always remember a face. And if my face is on my card, my ads, my mailers, etc., you will remember me more than just if you knew my name.


I used to do color business cards before it was all that cheap to have color printers (paid $600 for my Cannon BJC-600 in 1997). I could easily rip out 100 full color photo stock card with gold trimmings in about 30 minutes. I also had an early digital camera and a decent scanner for the day.

take a look here

As I heard it, its more to prevent another agent from snatching a customer away from them than any true security feature.

$35 for 500 was what I charged at the time. Took about an hour. Most of the work was cutting them.

The security thing is new to me; I thought it was all about marketing. Most of the realtors in our office have pictures of themselves on their cards.

But if they’re for security/ID purposes (and marketing), then how come the doofuses (some of them are real doofuses, trust me) use pictures of themselves that are at least, if not MORE, than twenty years old?

Give me a break, Robert Realtor and Sally Seller. You haven’t looked like that in YEARS. DECADES.

Returning you to your regularly-scheduled thread now.

Nope. I’ve used that stuff and it does not physically stamp or emboss the card. It’s perfectly flat. I’m talking about foil-stamping where dies have been carved, and the gold areas are raised.

And unless it’s been radically improved recently, laser foil is horrid and irritating to work with.

If the purpose of the photo is for marketing that brings up the question of why don’t more sales people use this method? One profession that quickly comes to mind is car sales. Most major dealerships have a large number of sales people and I would think they would benefit from a photo on their business cards (if this method was effective).

I think the security reason is a more likely factor.


Could it be another type of signal they are trying to send?

An expensive looking business card could be an attempt to tell people that “Trust me. I’ve been in this business a long time and I am so good at buying/selling houses I can afford a really snazzy card.”

I can recall where but I have heard a similar line of reasoning for why banks would tend to go for marble and other expensive materials. They’re trying to send the message “look at all the money we’ve spent on a building. We’re going to stay in business a long time”