St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging

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Handwritten cards or Computer Generated? What do you think?

I sit here pondering this question as I am in the middle of handwriting about 400 cards to local real estate agents that we had the good fortune of connecting with in one way or another at a trade show last week.  I've already done about a hundred of them over the course of the last few days.  As I look at the list and the stack of cards I can't help but wonder if there is in fact a better way....

At the trade show there were two companies - Chain Reactions & Send Out Cards - who offer an option to this time consuming task.  The idea is simple, you custom write the message - they sample your handwriting and create custom cards with your handwriting en mass.  It sounds like an intriguing idea.

Here is my issue with it however.... Does the handwritten card lose its effect if it is computer generated - even if in your own handwriting?  I think it does.  Part of the reason we send cards is to show our personalized service.  We want our clients to know that we go the extra mile.  We care about our clients and do things with a personalized touch. 

If we look to computer generated cards, how is that different from an email or mass generated post card, etc?  Surely the client is intelligent enough to know that we didn't actually take the time to hand write it.  Sure it would be a real time saver, but does it offer the same personal attention that is the whole point of the handwritten card.  What do you think?

 

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 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).

 

Comment balloon 39 commentsMelissa Marro • February 24 2008 12:52PM

Comments

I think it depends on the message...if it a personal note...hand written, If you are mass mailing, what is your rate of return for the time it takes you to hand write 400 cards????
Posted by Elaine A. Cook, Bellingham Real Estate (Connect Realty.com) almost 11 years ago
I always feel special when someone takes the time to send a handwritten note.  Computerize the label - but handwriting, even a few words on the inside shows you care!
Posted by April Hayden-Munson, Brookfield Wisconsin Real Estate almost 11 years ago
I think for a job that size I would go with computer printed notes. You will end up spending over a week just writing cards on your current pace and your hand is really gonna hurt :)
Posted by .... ... (....) almost 11 years ago

It's a good question.  There's nothing more special than a hand written note as it speaks volumes.  As for computerizing the label - I read somewhere (can't remember when or where) that if you want the card opened, a hand written address implies that the message within is more personal.

Kathy

Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager (http://atlantahomestaging.net) almost 11 years ago

Elaine - The messages are short and directed to the individual specifically.  Rate of return - I've gone into RE offices and seen my cards on the tops of agent's desks.  That speaks volumes to me.  I think it goes with the personal service so rate of return, for me, is great!

April - Thanks!  I agree...

Jim - I haven't been sitting for hours each day writing, only a few here and there when I have a few moments or sitting watching TV.  I did about 50 this morning while watching HGTV, so I can't imagine it will take days......

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Kathy - your comment apparently came in while I was responding... sorry!  I am hand addressing the cards as well.  Thanks for your comment.  I do agree.  The outside of the card is a lot like curb appeal.  They will prejudge what is inside based on what is outside.
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Unfortunately I was handed a ugly handwriting gene I inherited from my father. So for me its typed with maybe my live signature.
Posted by DeAndrea "Dee Dee" Jones, The NorthernVARealEstateLady & DMVRealEstateChick (Home Buyers Marketing II, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Melissa, I think that your gut has already given you the answer.  Handwritten, in my opinion, is the only way to keep it from looking like advertising..which of course it is, but you don't want it seen that way.  When I send an handwritten thank you I will often get a thank you for the thank you.  To me that's crucial!

Write On!(-:

Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) almost 11 years ago
I prefer a more personal touch, so I would have to go with a personal note. 
Posted by Tina Farinas, REALTOR, ABR, GRI, SFR, CHS, e-PRO (Fusion Real Estate Network, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

400 of anything means computer-generated for me. It's just not dollar-productive time spent. I will take the time to handwrite a line or two on selected cards if I want to add a specific message for certain people.

I do take the time to handwrite notes to guests at my open houses - usually 10-12.

 

Posted by Kim Skumanick (Keller Williams Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

That's a lot f cards to write Melisa. However, there is nothing like receiving a hand written note. Makes you feel kinda special

Posted by Kimberley Hawley, Hawley Interiors & Staging (Hawley Interiors & Staging) almost 11 years ago

Melissa-I saw a presentation for Send Out Cards and had the same thoughts. It is a great time saver but I think it loses it's personal touch when it is not written by you. I saved a handwritten card that someone (not a real close friend) sent me years ago when I was ill and hospitalized. That simple get well card blessed me so much. It was so meaningful that she took the time out of a busy day to write a note to me.

I also wasn't terribly impressed with the quality and selection of cards that they offer.

Posted by Liz Carla (Ebby Halliday) almost 11 years ago

Melissa,

In addition to running my own staging company, Home Staging of Wilmington, I am also a distributor of SendOutCards.  I have been so busy lately staging that I have not had time to tell other people about them but I have to say that becoming associated with SendOutCards has been great for me. 

It isn't that there is not as much thought put into it as if you actually hand write a card and put the stamp on yourself because SendOutCards has so many different ones, including the ability to put your own photos on them, use your own handwriting or just your own signature.  I really look forward to going to the site and choosing a special card for them, writing what I want to say, maybe putting a picture on it and then hitting the send button.  It will get to them and be "handwritten" with a stamp on it. 

Whenever I finish a consultation report, the SendOutCards thing is the next thing I do.  Boom!  Done.  I send one to the real estate agent and one to the client.  My clients & agents plus my friends and relatives love them.  For me, I was never good at making myself write thank you cards in a timely manner and/or I needed to go get stamps... SendOutCards has been a GREAT BUSINESS TOOL for me!  I recommend it highly.  In addition, SendOutCards will remind you of birthdays and anniversaries, etc.  Really Melissa, it's great.  I promise.  Plus, the cost is a fraction of a regular greeting card plus the stamp!

If anyone would like to know more or use my account to send a FREE card, please contact me.   

Pam Ives, Home Staging of Wilmington

910-233-1486 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Pam Ives almost 11 years ago

Pam - I had no idea you were doing this now...

I was not trying to knock these companies, necessarily.  I was rather throwing it out there to get the opinions of others on what they thought about these services.  I do think they are certainly better than doing nothing!  For me, I'm typically pretty good about getting things like these done.  If I'm not, then being able to do it online isn't really going to help me any!  It is great to hear from someone who uses this service and can talk about their experience with it.  Thanks!

(btw, we really need to get you an AR account so you can get a profile, points & leads when you blog and/or comment!)

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Dede - Yeah, some days my handwriting is better than others!  I should have my daughter write my cards for me... her handwriting is beautiful!

Ginger - For me, the handwritten card simply is the best answer.  I think the computer program will work for some, but not others... I'm one of the others I guess

Tina - me too..... I'm sure you gathered that already though.  Thanks for reading!

 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Kim S.  - Fortunately I only have to do this about once a year!  It's not really too bad.  It gives me an excuse to sit around all day.... lol

Kim H - I hope the recipient always feels that way.  If nothing else I feel strongly it is a great way for them to receive another business card to have on hand & remember your name when the time comes that the need a stager!

Liz - I'm sorry to hear about your illness, but really glad that you had someone make such a positive impact on you with a mere card!  In the time of technology it is great to have that personal touch I think!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

I've received a few Send Out Cards. They look great, and are a wonderful tool to use. I especially like the idea of being able to use them for marketing, exaple; a redesign where the after photo of the room is on the outside and on the inside is a before photo. You know the client is going to take that to work and show it off!  I have to agree with the hand written notes being more personal, and special to the recipient.  . . . .  gotta go, my pile of notes to write is waiting!

Posted by Roberta Anderson, Hearth & Home Staging, Staging Kitsap County (Hearth & Home Staging) almost 11 years ago

Hand written, much more personal and shows an investment of time that makes people feel good and like you did really just think of them and shoot off a note.

Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com) almost 11 years ago

If it's 400, I'd say computer generated interior, and handwritten signature.  It's a compromise but could get the cards out quicker (equally important in my book).

All the best,

Audrey 

Posted by Audrey Hoffman, VoteAudrey (VoteAudrey blog) almost 11 years ago
Hello Melissa, hope you are well.  This is one of those things that if your going to do it, do it right.  There is no sense in cutting corners and loosing the impact in the process. 
Posted by Gary Barnett, Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis (Home Matters) almost 11 years ago
I have to go with hand written.  Both the card and envelope.  I too will likely toss something computer generated.
Posted by Kristi Oliver, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager (Atlanta Staging & Design) almost 11 years ago
Melissa- The whole idea is for the recipient to feel like they were worth the trouble you went to! I say hand written and addressed!
Posted by Elaine Manes Gage, Staging done ONLINE! (Home Staging Online Services) almost 11 years ago

You really can't beat handwritten notes.  It just adds a level of "personal touch" that computer-generated cards just don't give you. For specific holidays, we will purchase computer-generated or bulk cards and then hand write the signature and envelopes for our clients but after a listing presentation or a closing, it is always  handwritten note.

~Renae

Posted by Renae Bolton, I'm your Professional Real Estate Marketing VA! (Marketing 4 Realtors) almost 11 years ago
I am a big Brian Buffini fan and he says personal notes all the way.  I do send out a monthly item of value that is not personalized.  But every now and again my clients will get a handwritten note from me.  Every one I meet gets a handwritten "nice meeting you note".  Everyone who does something nice for me gets a thank you note.  Handwritten.  I don't think I would handwrite 400 notes though! 
Posted by Susan Mangigian, Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) almost 11 years ago
I swear you ARE the busiest woman in SC!  I guess it depends on how well your handwriting is, mine is not that great, especially after 400!!
Posted by Cindy Bryant, "Houston Home Staging Pros" (Redesign Etc. Home Staging) almost 11 years ago

Roberta - Good luck with your notes. Mine are almost done!  (I confess I've taken an extended break today.... meaning I didn't touch the last ones.  I'll finish them tomorrow night.)

Terrylynn - part of the idea is tha they don't know you are writing 400 of them & they feel important for receiving one. 

Renae - I'll admit that I'm not great at the holiday cards.  I guess I don't veiw them as important because they are what everyone else does.  I'm always looking for the unexpected.  That is not to say they don't hold value... it just isn't a place I put much of my time.

Susan - I guess the question is, if you just met 400 people who took the time to stop and talk to you... would you?  If you did, would it make you stand apart from your competition who were also present?

Cindy - Busy, absolutely.... sometimes I just feel insane.  The funny thing is that I quit my 9-5 so that I would work less... rofl..... do you know how funny that is now?

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
You've gotten a lot of input, and someone may have already said this, but I'd do both. Why not something printed like "Thanks for visiting us at the XYZ show last week.  See some of our staged homes at www.xyz.com."  And then write a quick something like, If we can ever help, please call!
Posted by Barbara Bussey (Transitions Home Design) almost 11 years ago

I completely agree about holiday cards, Melissa.  That's why we encourage our clients to send "off" holiday cards.  Not at Christmas for sure.  Instead, we send Thanksgiving cards - thanks for your business type cards, etc.  This makes much more of an impact and they get remembered instead of lost in the sea of other cards.

~Renae

Posted by Renae Bolton, I'm your Professional Real Estate Marketing VA! (Marketing 4 Realtors) almost 11 years ago

HANDWRITTEN IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO IF YOU WANT TO LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU CARE!

Live good. Be happy.

-Mimi

Posted by Mimi Osterdahl, NW Living, "Do good work for good people." (eXp Realty) almost 11 years ago
Melissa.  I would much rather receive a card that is hand written than computer generated.  It shows you care about your business and the relations you have formed by taking the time to write them out.  If is like receiving a letter or card in the mail - excitment.  I don't get it with e-mail or -e -card greetings or whatever you call them.
Posted by Isabel Gomes, Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont (Gomes Design) almost 11 years ago

Someone I know is a distributor for SendOutCards.  I showed my husband one of the cards she sent us and he thought it was actually handwritten at first glance.  I'm probably going to sign up for the service later this year. 

I buy my notecards from Lang and my greeting cards I print on the laser (American Greetigns); SendOutCards is about .04 cheaper than what it costs me (including postage) for the greeting cards.  There will always be times when I  still handwrite a note - more often for thank you's... but there are certainly times when the computer generated cards (written in my handwriting) are appropriate, like when I send greetings to all current, past and future clients for anniversaries, birthdays, etc.

Posted by Tina Faust, GRI (N/A) almost 11 years ago

Barbara - Thanks for the suggestion....

Renae - This is similar to what we've started doing as well.  It is better for them to get a card when it will stand out.

Mimi - Thanks!  I have decided to write all of mine by hand.  I think it is a personal choice, but it is what I feel best about & so what I did.

Isabel - I agree & this business is all about personal relationships. 

Tina - I've heard from others that they are good - for me personally I just don't know if it is something that I am comfortable with.  I do think that if it gets the card out there instead of not being sent it is a brilliant idea.  I think if you can set up a schedule so you don't forget an occassion it is probably a great idea as well!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
If I had 400 to send out it would be computer generated, if there were some that you spent alot of time talking to at the trade show, I would hand write. It would take alot of time to handwrite 400 and your time could be spent better elsewhere.
Posted by Mary Lou Teague, Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN (HOME STYLE AND STAGING LLC ) almost 11 years ago
Mary Lou - fortunately it didn't really take all that long & I'm very used to writing cards.  I think it is a personal touch that I both enjoy and feel is important to show that we are more than just marketing!  I certainly understand why some would prefer the computer generated versions though!
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
I use both methods.  Send out cards is a great service and you can create a font using your own handwriting.  It still looks printed instead of hand written but there is a time and a place when it comes in handy.  I also like the fact that you have the ability to send out gift cards along with your greeting card ... and that the cards are printed on recycled paper.  Cheers! 
Posted by Cindy Brandon, CDPE, EcoBroker, GRI, CRS, ePro almost 11 years ago
I don't think it matters that much.  I think, unfortunately, most , if not all will be trashed.  However, those that are going to respond will respond to either one. 
Posted by Scott Williams, Defiance, OH (Realty Five of Defiance) almost 11 years ago

I am a Virtual Assistant and a user and resource for Send Out Cards.  I recommend SOC to all my clients.  I don't find it impersonal at all.  It's the thought behind the card more than the handwritting on the card.  I have several agents that have jumped on the SOC bandwagon and love the system.  It is a very professional way to manage their various mailing campaigns and as their Virtual Assistant I basically take care of the administrative part for them, so they don't spend precious time in front of the computer or even worse, signing and addressing hundreds of cards to clients.

I highly recommend it and invite anywho interested to visit www.sendoutcards.com/virtual   Sign up for a free gift account.  Take the system for a test drive and see how easy it is to use and send yourself a card to see the quality of the product.

Terri Brooks, A Virtual Business Solution

865-919-0306

Posted by Terri Brooks (A Virtual Business Solution) almost 11 years ago

Regardless if the card is handwritten or computer generated, its the thought behind the card that stands out.  Are you writing something personalized for the person who receives it, or are you just writing a canned "thank you for buying a home from me card"...

Posted by Lynne Schoneman/sr loan officer almost 11 years ago

Cindy - I wasn't aware they were on recyled paper.  Very cool....

Scott - We actually get really good response from our cards.  I guess we must be doing something right!

Terri - I guess I don't mind doing that in my evening time.  I think it is part of the personalized service.  When I know that something is computer generated I am much more likely to just toss it.  That might just be me....

Lynne - Very good point!  The idea is that they should be getting a message that they feel was meant for them and not canned!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

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