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Holiday Open Houses – Dumb and Dumbest



funny witch on broom
The holidays are approaching, so I thought I would share my favorite holiday blooper tales so that some of you could avoid the pitfalls of theme oriented open houses.  Those who pay heed may avoid disaster. The rest of you are on your own.

Ditch the Witch

One clever agent decided to increase traffic for her Brokers Open by planning a Halloween fun house. She advertised in the MLS Open House Guide that there would be a few “Halloween surprises.” It never occurred to her that SOME agents just follow the MLS open house lists and do not read the Open House Guide. (Cue the music from Nightmare on Elm Street, maestro.)

On the day of the open house one broker entered, delighted to see the Halloween décor. As she began her tour of the house, she opened the door in the foyer. Suddenly there was a piercing cackle, and a witch dropped down on a broomstick. The agent screamed and nearly fainted from shock. Fortunately there was no pacemaker involved, but the hapless agent unexpectedly emptied her bladder and had to go home – wet, humiliated, and p_ssed. (How redundant!) Moral of the Story: It’s great to come out of the closet, but make sure your audience is prepared…or wearing Depends.

What Day Is It Anyway?

Full of holiday spirit, one agent decided to do a Christmas open house in mid December. The day before, she baked,  decorated, and set up for the open house in the seller’s dining room. While adding the finishing touches, it dawned on her that a large target group in her area hailed from Israel. At the last minute she decided to do a Hanukkah theme and hurried home to send out email fliers announcing a Hanukkah Brokers Open. She ran out to purchase Star of David cookies and other non-Christmas baked goods so she would be politically correct and oh-so-hip.  (Cue the music from Fiddler on the Roof, boys.)

The next day, the open house had steady traffic, but the reaction of many agents seemed unusually reserved.  In fact, a few seemed downright curt. Finally one person from her office spoke up and said, “The cookies are delicious, Barb, but if I were you, I’d lose that centerpiece. The hostess glanced at the table and her jaw dropped in horror. There, proudly displayed, remained her original centerpiece: a lovely crèche, complete with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

Moral of the Story: Mixing holiday themes is like mixing your colors and whites when doing laundry – the result could involve serious bleeding.

Come One, Come All

My friend told me about an agent in Lake Arrowhead who makes gorgeous holiday wreaths. Apparently there is no end to her cleverness. She decorates like a pro, and every open house she does is worthy of a spread in Better Homes and Gardens. She even sells her handmade crafts, so open houses are a great venue for advertising her side business.

One year she had a holiday open house that was lavish in its décor. One highlight was the handmade wreath on the door. It was a prize-worthy beauty adorned with velvet ribbon, silver balls, and copious amounts of dried fruits. Perhaps this agent had been dipping into the eggnog. Perhaps this agent had been knocking back some Mothers Little Helpers. Whatever excuse she had, there was no explanation for her colossal lack of judgment. (Cue the music from Jaws, and then run like hell.)

The day of the open house, she was dismayed that an hour had passed and no one had arrived. Finally she heard a car horn beeping madly. She ran to the window and looked out to see a caravan of agents sitting in their van – they were wild eyed! They hit the horn again and signaled to her to stay inside. She glanced at the porch and noticed a pile of shredded ribbon and shattered balls. (Christmas balls, in case you’re wondering.) Hunkered over what had been the world’s most glorious wreath was the world’s most satisfied bear.  Fortunately, the honking of the horn drove the critter back into the woods, but not until he swiped the car with one paw and came periously close to eating the agents. (I’m sure there were some shattered balls in the car, too.) The open house was a bust.  The subsequent press did garner the seller some free advertising, however, and the agent sold a lot of wreathes that year. I’m told that none of them contained dried fruit.

Moral of the Story:  Will food draw a bear? Answer: Does a bear s __t in the woods?

A Short One for the Road

One Los Angeles agent with a big heart and lousy baking skills made reindeer-face cookies for her open house. The cookies were the talk of the office because not only were they awful, but the reindeer faces, when viewed upside down, were very phallic in appearance.

The irony: her last name is Johnson.  Seriously.

Moral of the Story: Never eat a cookie if it’s a Johnson.

(You can cue the hook and drag me off now.)

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  1. Gilbert AZ Homes

    October 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Wow! That is a lot of misguided creativity!

  2. Joe Loomer

    October 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Wonder if the Pope was s____ing in the woods too, after hearing about the Meshuga Christmas party! Oy Vey, Boy am I Toisty!!

    Navy Chief, Lakhaiim!!

  3. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 9, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    OMG that’s a bad one. Resltors are always outdoing themselves in the marketing area.


  4. Steven Beam

    October 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Keep it simple right? It usually works best. I hold very few open houses as they seem to be mostly a waste of time in our area.

  5. Lani Rosales

    October 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm…AWESOME! LOL

  6. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    You know, Gilbert, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

  7. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    “Misletoef,” Joe 🙂

  8. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Or, UNDOING themselves, RM!

  9. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    A lot of agents agree with you, Steven…but they can be SUCH a source of entertainment. I recently went to one where an agent sat in a chair where a pie had been placed. It was hilarious. (Well…at least for the observers.)

  10. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Lani, my world is crazy enough, but my brain takes it to a whole new level, I know. Maybe it’s time for me to consider meds. But honestly, can’t you just picture those reindeer cookies???

  11. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    You know, you look a lot better in your profile picture than you do in the witch outfit… any other costumes, Gwen? 😉

  12. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I tried the French Maid outfit, Mathew, but I couldn’t get the vaccum cleaner to lift off.

  13. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    yeah. they suck.

  14. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    So much for a “lightweight Oreck!” I thibnk I will just stick with baking reindeer cookies 🙂

  15. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    > baking reindeer cookies

    You don’t have to tell us what you’ll be wearing. if. you. don’t. want to…

    (gawd, i’m going to get in such trouble…)

  16. Joe Loomer

    October 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you Matthew and Gwen – my next Open House is going to be “clothing optional!”

  17. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    It’s no secret, Matthew – I’ll be wearing my antler hat and a big red nose. Enjoy the visual!

  18. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Let me know how that goes, Joe. You should expect a lot of traffic…including the Augusta PD. be sure to take photos for your AG family!

  19. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    > antler hat and a big red nose

  20. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    { . . . }

  21. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Ho Ho Ho

  22. Augusta GA Homes

    October 10, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Amusing stories…These agents must have way too much free time on their hands.

  23. Gwen Banta

    October 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I like your comment @ Augusta, but I have never known a working agent who has ANY time on his/her hands. I do agree, however, that sometimes a few could use a compass…

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.



no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using you can use and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…



Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.



offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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