Turning Cheese into Soul - Send(ing) Out Cards the Soulful Way

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Education & Training with Sell with Soul

A long time ago (last week? The week before?), I promised to continue a little series I was running about Turning Cheese into Soul - that is - taking yesterday's tired old prospecting techniques and making them less, um, cheesy. Well, I got a little distracted, but it's been driving me NUTS to have the remainder of the series on my to-do list... so, I'm back.

Today's topic is about greeting cards. Specifically, a program called Send Out Cards.* If you aren't familiar with the product/program, it's a greeting card system where you choose a card from an online selection, customize it, and "sign" it... hit SEND and a real, live greeting card goes out in the mail with what appears to be your signature. You can even provide samples of your handwriting and the system will "handwrite" your personal note in the card so that appears to actually have been written by you. Pretty slick.

I've been rather critical of the program for awhile now. I did try it a few years ago, had a negative experience - my cards were sent out twice, thus destroying any notion the recipients might have had as to the authenticity of the cards. I've never used or recommended Send Out Cards again. Here's a blog I wrote on the topic, in fact: http://activerain.com/blogsview/430334/if-you-re-gonna-soi-don-t-over-systemitize-

However, I had a conversation a few weeks ago with my new friend John Lind who might have changed my mind. At least, sorta. Maybe I should say that he opened my eyes to a better way to use the product/program; one that is much more in line with my philosophies of how such things ought to be done.  

John uses his Send Out Cards membership in a decidedly non-dorky/non-cheesy manner. In fact, his use of the program falls right in line with what I teach about staying in touch with your Sphere of Influence. Instead of simply relying on the program to sign and mail a mildly clever, but run-of-the-mill greeting card, he takes the time to use the technology offered by the program to create a truly memorable card - one that will almost certainly make the recipient smile; maybe even LOL!

Here's an example of a card John sent me:

Send out cards

John generated this card after our discussion where I explained why I didn't like the idea of Send(ing) Out Cards. He "wrote" a very nice note on the inside of the card; one that was personal to me and our conversation. I am, in a word, impressed. And yes, I did LOL when I opened it. I even kept it!

Here's another card John did at Thanksgiving...

 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what's the punch line? While it's cheesy (IMO) to rely on technology to do your staying-in-touching FOR you, it's not at all cheesy to use technology to make your staying-in-touching memorable!

See the difference?

Let me know if you have any cool ideas I can steal admire.

* I have nothing to do with the Send Out Cards program - I don't sell it, promote it or distribute it, so the above is definitely not any sort of infomercial for the product. However, I'm sure John would be happy to brainstorm ways that you can make more of an impact with your staying-in-touching! Here's his email address. 

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Rainmaker
524,356
Kathryn Acciari
Century 21 Real Estate - Shrewsbury, MA
Brand Ambassador and Business Coach

Jennifer, well this is an interesting review of a product!  I like your honesty along with your willingness to reconsider a product that you'd dismissed.  Creativity overcomes the cheese!

Dec 18, 2009 04:20 AM #1
Ambassador
837,516
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

Tommorrow I am sitting down to do the family cards. I do the domestics my wife the international . I had not considered the customers . But you are right . Bah Humbug

Dec 18, 2009 08:21 AM #2
Rainmaker
180,228
Bill Jones
Discovery Real Estate Ltd. - "Homes By Jones" - Airdrie, AB
Realtor (403-701-1739) Airdrie & Calgary Area Homes and Condos

While I liked the idea behind Send-Out-Cards, and the ability to be creative. What I found cheesy was that it is marketed like a Multi-level Marketing business.

Bill

 

Dec 18, 2009 11:46 AM #3
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bill - I agree - I don't do affiliations or MLM's - it's just not my style. I'm happy to recommend products if I think they're cool, but I've tried in the past to sell them and I can't do it...

Charlie - Bah Humbug back at ya!

Kathryn - Okay that's my new tagline --- "Creativity Overcomes the Cheese!" Brilliant

Dec 18, 2009 11:39 PM #4
Rainmaker
134,049
J Perrin Cornell
Century 21 Exclusively, Wenatchee, WA - Wenatchee, WA
Broker, ABR, VAMRES

Well I do not like the program for SOI contacts... they are phony and worse they are phony trying to appear genuine... pretty simple. I do agree that the design card idea is cool and would have a limited application at best... but klitsch is klitsch only in this case high tech klitsch.

The whole point of cards is not just contact...put personal and individual contact... anyway good post and there is a limited application here...

Dec 19, 2009 02:20 AM #5
Anonymous
John

Wow..great perspective here and some great comments. It's great that there can be an avenue to discuss and analyze ideas on a deeper level. I've been in real estate full time for over 3 years and have my brokers license and the concerns voiced here are certainly valid.

Jennifer - Really appreciate the honest feedback and the open mind.

Bill - I don't disagree that the relationship marketing aspect of the product can be suspect for some. There are however many products that have a great reputation due to the longevity of the company such as Mary Kay. As with anything, there is a choice to consume such a product and not be involved with the selling aspect. There are thousands of regular consumers that send cards out on a daily basis with no intention of EVER marketing the product. Much like real estate, the actions of an agent of the company can sometimes make a poor impression. Does that mean that Century 21 on its face and what it represents is bad?

 

Perrin - When I first contacted Jennifer, her impression was much the same. I've been involved with sending cards for years prior to joining Send Out Cards. My first 6 months of card sending was ABYSMAL at best. I was sending out terrible and generic cards that certainly didn't accomplish my goals. I decided to re-evaluate the way I was presenting myself and now I do absolutely zero self promotion cards. I don't ask for referrals in my signature - in fact I don't even sign my cards with anything even real estate related. Everyone knows what I do already! I was sending out congratulation cards, birthday cards, appreciation cards, thinking of you etc... all of these were heartfelt in nature and never ever contained a promotion. Combined with utilizing the simplicity of creating a card such as the one I sent Jennifer, the results were overwhelming. People are calling me asking HOW I sent the amazing cards AND they were actually KEEPING the cards. Can you believe that? My SOI is happier than ever because they've received cards with pictures of their kids, pets, and special occasions that NO one else is sending. I get cards all the time and they will invariably contain elements that make you not care if you throw the card away, such as promotion interests, quality issues, and/or a lack of personalization. Even the slickest and most customized cards that I send one at a time still take less effort, time, and $$. All professionals are looking for an edge to get time and money back but not at the expense of ethics/seeming cheesy. I completely and wholeheartedly agree that there are ways that people could use Send Out Cards that would be disingenuous in nature. Ultimately like everything in life, the choice is up to the individual how they utilize and react to what is presented to them.

 

John Lind

 

 

Dec 19, 2009 03:22 AM #6
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for chiming in, John.

I wanted to respond to Perrin as well - echoing what you (John) said. I HATE phony. I HATE anything that pretends to be something its not in the name of efficiency. HATE IT. Hope that's clear. What I do like about the idea of using this sort of technology (and it doesn't have to be SOC) is that it clearly takes time and effort to put together, and therefore IS real and personal. Are there unlimited applications? No, but as I always say - if you impress someone once, you won't have to constantly be "touching" them to remind them that you exist.

My challenge is coming up with clever stuff on a regular basis to make any sort of membership valuable to me. But I imagine that, like blogging or other things you have to do regularly, once you're in the habit, ideas come more easily. Especially if you're getting good feedback which is always motivating!!

Dec 19, 2009 04:06 AM #7
Rainmaker
134,049
J Perrin Cornell
Century 21 Exclusively, Wenatchee, WA - Wenatchee, WA
Broker, ABR, VAMRES

Well we agree on part anyway...but sorry...they just ring phony...period... hand address...hand written... I guess it would be better if they were just regular typed text rather than trying to appear to be something else... and I know that can be adjusted but most don't...hmmm perhaps that action or lack there of makes my point? Use more than SOIfor SURE! I do not send out cards because they take less time and money either..again that seems to diminish the product... mine are heart felt, hand written, personal...sometimes very poignant..and designed just for that person and usually no one else...

 

Of course you have to realize i won't hire someone wearing loafers...if your too lazy to tie your shoes your too lazy to work for me ...lol!

Dec 20, 2009 12:30 AM #8
Rainmaker
746,678
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Merry Christmas Jennifer! 

What is the cost for the Send out cards?  You are the second person I have seen blog about it, I may have to check into it.....

Some cheese is good if it is memorable cheese! 

Dec 21, 2009 04:52 AM #9
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Rob - I don't really know - there are different levels of membership depending on whether or not you actually want to be a distributor yourself, I believe. At least, that's how it was a few years ago when I tried it. Maybe John can enlighten us...

Dec 21, 2009 10:20 PM #10
Rainmaker
122,939
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty / LakeHomes.com

Jennifer... Great Stuff!! 

Perrin, I would submit for your consideration (or disagreement), that great use of technology does not mean impersonal.  To make this point, consider that in the greater span of time, paper and pen is really fairly new technology too.  Even newer is the typewriter, the camera, and the phone.  Does use of these make the message impersonal?  I say it depends on the use, not the medium and to assume the medium is the problem ignores that technology, used well, can actually open up new way to be very personal.  Do most people use it that way?  No.  But that does not mean the problem is the technology.  You can tell me I'm wrong.  Really.

Thanks all! G

 

Dec 24, 2009 12:13 AM #11
Rainmaker
323,839
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Those cards are so cute, and decidedly non-cheesy.  I've been paying for a card service that is run by a woman who hand writes every card that I select.  However, I'm going to stop doing it because I always write personal notes in any card that I send out, and she can't write these notes for me (nor do I want her to).  I just know I hate getting any kind of card with just "Love, Jane" or "Sincerely, Jane.  So that's an expense I will be dispensing with in 2010.  Thanks for the kick in the pants!  Hope you had a great Christmas!  My New Year's resolution is to be more like you - and REALLY sink some effort into this year!  Cheers!

Dec 27, 2009 01:21 PM #12
Rainmaker
84,104
Maria Marriott
Executive Properties - Roseville, CA
Realtor - DBRealEstateTeam.com

I love those cards. I once took pictures of my clients when they were signing their loan documents and then receiving their keys. Next they received a "custom made" card with the picture of getting their home keys on the cover. Can you say that's cheesy and not personal and memorable. I bet they'll keep it! Just my 2 cents....

Dec 28, 2009 12:27 AM #13
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Melissa - I used to do something similar - and hated it. I just felt so phony hiring someone else to do something that was supposed to appear to come from me. Funny thing was - it WORKED - I always got calls after a mailing went out thanking me, but still.

Maria - I'm positive that card was a keeper!!! Great job!

Glenn - I agree 100%. Very well put.

Dec 28, 2009 12:40 AM #14
Rainer
108,032
Dawn & Charlie Tetro
PalmerHouse Properties & associates - Johns Creek, GA
Real Service Real Results

I have also wrestled with the idea of getting involved with Send out Cards as i just did not feel right about them.  i tried it once and although my client liked the card, they were confused as to how i mailed it from Salt lake City!  It was then that i made the decision not to move forward on using this service. 

 

Thanks for your great posts, as always!

Dec 28, 2009 01:00 AM #15
Rainer
108,032
Dawn & Charlie Tetro
PalmerHouse Properties & associates - Johns Creek, GA
Real Service Real Results

I have also wrestled with the idea of getting involved with Send out Cards as i just did not feel right about them.  i tried it once and although my client liked the card, they were confused as to how i mailed it from Salt lake City!  It was then that i made the decision not to move forward on using this service. 

 

Thanks for your great posts, as always!

Dec 28, 2009 01:01 AM #16
Ambassador
2,298,590
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

 Hello Jennifer and a very heart warming post, cards are fun!

"Happy Holidays"

 VB ;o)

Dec 28, 2009 04:27 PM #17
Rainer
232,295
Sara Woolford & Steve Golson, ALHS
iTexas Realty Co. - San Antonio, TX

Hi Jennifer-

I am all for a way to personalize without having writer's cramp!  I may have to give this a try! I love both giving and receiving holiday cards and hand-write to a large group of clients as I do want to take the time to wish them a Happy Holiday.  Thinking of them and their families makes me smile!

--Sara in San Antonio

Dec 29, 2009 05:24 AM #18
Rainmaker
266,287
Dora & Vincent Kwok
HomeSmart Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
CNE - Chandler, Arizona Real Estate

Hi Jennifer - This points out that technology is just a tool.  You can use it anyway that works for you!

Jan 07, 2010 01:27 PM #19
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