Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Using Business Cards to Find Antiques and Collectibles

These days most people have business cards. Some people have a few different cards. In order to write this issue, I went to local antique malls and picked up every card I could find. (This is part of my networking strategy. I will write more about that later - or you can pick up my Collectible Buying Strategies Package to get started now.)

Most of the business cards I picked up are worthless. They are poorly designed, and have no usable information. Some of them are really bad. I sorted them into three piles. Cards that are well done, cards with promise, and cards that are hopeless.

All the well done cards are SPECIFIC. They say exactly what the person is interested in. I can look through the stack and see exactly what they want. Most of them have pictures or graphics on them that match the message. By specific I mean they are interested in one area of collectibles like dolls and teddy bears, or military items, or toy trains. Some are even more specific and want items by one manufacturer like Marx toys or Lennox dishes.

The cards with promise are either specific with design issues, or cramped. There is a blue card with blue lettering. It's very hard to read. There is a white card with red and blue lettering over a background of parachutes landing. Like in the D-day photos. He is a military collector so the parachute background is relevant, but it makes the card hard to read. Another problem with this card is it is a homemade card with blurry printing and perforated edges. It does not look professional.

Homemade business cards look CHEAP. A cheap card might lead sellers to believe you are offering them low amounts. Buying antiques and collectibles involves building rapport with the sellers. You do not want to come across as being cheap. You can get 500 one color business cards printed at any copy shop for under $30 dollars. Don't be cheap.

The cramped cards have too much small text on them. Business cards should not have text smaller than 10 pt. Especially if you are trying to buy items from senior citizens. Rather than listing all the different makers of items a general statement will serve the same purpose and look better. It will also generate more calls.

I buy many kinds of toy trains. There are some manufacturers I do not buy. My card says "Toy Trains Wanted By Collector." It doesn't say, "I buy Lionel, Ives, American Flyer, Dorfan, Kusan, and Marx trains, but do not buy Bachmann, Tyco, and Life-Like trains." I don't list items I am not interested in because I want people to call me regardless of the type of trains they have. I qualify them on the phone, and find out if they have other items I want.

The hopeless cards are really unclear. There is one that says "Always Buying." Always buying what? There is one that says "Name Antiques" with persons name PO box and phone number on it. That is just a billboard card. It needs more information.

Here's a really neat one. Says "Sports Collectables." Collectibles with an I is the proper American spelling. I make a lot of spelling errors online, and in my books. But that is Thousands of words - my latest book The Auction Revolution is over 250,000 words long. A few misspelled words while not perfect, don't detract much from the content. On a two word business card to get half of them wrong is inexcusable.

The sports collector also has his telephone number scratched out, and a new number written in over it in pencil. Business cards are cheap. Have new ones printed when you change your telephone number.

Here's another worthless card. It is in French. It has a neat picture of a pig on it. I picked this card up in Scottsdale, Arizona. The address and telephone are local. Maybe he collects French pigs? I have heard of Canadian Bacon and Danish Hams, but not French Pigs. Maybe it is a truffle sniffing pig? Who knows?

That is enough examples. Think about your business card.

How does your business card fit in with cards listed above?

Is it clear and concise? Is it specific? Would someone know exactly what you are interested in buying, or be left guessing? For a lot of these cards I could tell by looking at the items the seller was offering where their interests lay, but once I put them in the stack with the other cards this association was lost.

Here Are Some Quick Business Card Tips:

  • Quality paper makes you look better. I use a light grey textured stock for my cards with black raised lettering. My logo is a 1917 toy train logo modified to suit my needs. The card looks vintage, and I save money by having only one color ink.
  • Be specific. Say exactly what your interests are. Don't leave people guessing. They might have your card for months or years and will forget where it came from.
  • If you are interested in buying items, mention that on your business card. My cards say "Cash Paid" on them.
  • If you use a picture, use one that relates to the specific collectibles you collect. My business card has a picture of a boy showing off his trains. The graphic is similar to the logo used by Lionel between 1918 and 1934. The boy in the picture is Lawrence Cowen, the son of the founder of Lionel.
  • Provide a minimum of contact information. My card has only my train line telephone number on it, and my PO box. No fax number or email. No website either. These cards are for buying trains. Not showing off my toy train website. Remember, you want people to call so you can start the buying process.
  • Use both sides of the card. I just flipped over all these cards and none have printing on the back. A few have stickers or rubber stamps with the antique mall locations on them. My cards are old so the back is blank. My new cards will have a list of other types of toys I buy on the back.
  • Use dark colors on light backgrounds. This is easier to read. Also specify maximum ink coverage. I remember the term printers use, but you want the lettering to really stand out from the back of the card. Not raised print, although that is a nice effect, but really dark print.

Three last tips about business cards.

If you work for a company and have a company business card put your collecting message on the back of you work card. I have a friend who was an air conditioner salesman. He is now retired. He rubber stamped I collect Toy trains on the backs of his business cards. He bought a lot of trains because people saw the message on the back of the card.

Never write an amount on the back of your card when you make an offer. Many times I have been looking at trains and found business cards with offers on the back. Knowing what the other offers were makes it much easier to buy the trains. Using both sides of the card will prevent people from writing your offers on the back.

And finally, always get the name and telephone number from people who have items for sale. If you give people a business card, and expect them to call you, most will never call. By exchanging contact information, you can follow up with people who might otherwise neglect to call. Terry

PS. My business card could be much better. There is a picture below - can you think of ways to improve the card? I blotted out the telephone number because I do not want people calling me from the web.

Note, I was going to get the grey lettering in red, but decided not to spend the additional money for two colors. This is the proof the printer sent me so the red is grey. On the printed versions, the grey text is the same dark black as the rest of the printing.

my business card


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