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Pig Kissing and Your Reputation



Free Exposure?

If I told you that I could get your name in front of thousands of local, potential customers, for free, would you be willing to kiss a pig in exchange for the publicity? I made that decision this year when I volunteered to raise money for the local county fair. In return, I had stories written about me in the local papers, was covered on local radio, and garnered some name recognition. I also got to stand in the center ring at the Fair and introduce myself to everyone there.

It’s been three months, and I still have people seeking me out to see if I did, in fact, kiss the big, dirty pig. (Seriously, I didn’t ‘win’… so I didn’t have to kiss it. And that was really okay with me when I saw that pig.) But folks that didn’t know me before recognize me now, and the people that I already knew in the community? I had an excuse to call them and remind them I’m still alive (and selling real estate). Some agents told me I was crazy, but to me–it was just good public relations.

Protect Your Offline Reputation, Too

The best listing agents spend tons of time crafting marketing plans to promote the homes they are selling; well thought out, strategic marketing to put each home in its’ best light. How many agents spend as much time and energy to market and promote *themselves* as a brand? Shouldn’t you have as clear a focus on how to put yourself out there, how potential clients should perceive you? All major companies and corporations have someone managing their public relations. As an agent, how are you incorporating a good public relations strategy to manage your public perception and reputation, and help bring in future business? Someone recently said to me that communication all comes back down to public relations…your face, your personal brand, within your community, is what brings you business and success. Beyond guarding your ‘online reputation’, guarding your business reputation and your place in the local community is just as important.

It’s about having goals in mind for how you want to be perceived, and which audiences you want to reach. (While I don’t want to be perceived as a pig kisser, being perceived as supportive to the local fair and 4H programs is a good thing.) Are you trying to place yourself as the expert for the huge active adult community nearby, or are you looking to position yourself as the most knowledgeable agent for first time buyers? You’ll need to have very different activities in mind for each niche market you are working with.

The Long Tail…in Real Life

At REBlogWorld in Las Vegas last week, I learned from Jim Duncan that you can (and should) establish relationships with local media outlets so that they turn to you when they need a quote from an expert. I have also heard successful agents talk about taking the time to get to know the builder’s representatives in different new construction communities: keeping your ear to the ground with them allows YOUR clients to know about good deals before they are gone. Nicole Nicolay talked at Inman Connect about working with your local school’s PTA to meet people and build a network for the long term. The “long tail” is not just an online term…apply it to your offline marketing plan, too.

So I’m not saying everyone needs to kiss a pig to grow their business..but I think it’s important to not get so wrapped up in your online presence that you forget to have a real presence in your local community, too. What are you doing to interact locally?

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  1. Jay Thompson

    September 27, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I’m bummed my contribution didn’t help you “win” — I would have liked to seen a photo of you and the pig in a lip lock…

    “What are you doing to interact locally?”

    What is weird (to me at least) is that since I started accepting advertising in a limited fashion on my blog, it has opened up connections with local businesses that I never had before. I’ve had some amazing conversations with local business owners (FWIW that vast majority of whom do not advertise on the blog) and really “connected” with several. A couple of those have lead to client referrals.

    I do virtually all my real estate marketing and PR online. But you make a great point Heather – it is really important to connect in the “real world” too. is also a wonderful place to find local people that share similar interests.

  2. Nick Bastian

    September 27, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I remember reading about your contest and thought it was a great idea. I bet there were a lot of guys in your community wishing they were that darn pig… Glad to hear the media picked it up, that kind of thing can go a long way.

  3. monika

    September 27, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    LOL…I’m glad you didn’t have to kiss that ugly pig but what a great gimmick for you!

  4. Missy Caulk

    September 27, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    This is the first year I haven’t had kids in high school where it was so easy to network, volunteer for homecoming float building, prom committee, you name it.
    I am going to have to get out in more unnatural environments, going to a Chamber meeting on Tuesday. It was so, so easy when my kids were younger.
    Many at the school know I blog, (on Saline Schools and events) so now they are bugging me to buy a place on the scoreboard for 3500.00 for 5 years, ouch… I don’t like that kind of branding, what are your thoughts?

  5. Jonathan Dalton

    September 27, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    What I do in the community doesn’t translate too much too my business. One transaction in five years at my shuel, and my presidency probably costs more business that it creates. Coaching YMCA is another thing, but that’s never paid off in anything other than skin-cancer to come from walking around in 112 degrees yelling at kids who can’t hear me.

    I’ve debated starting a beagle meet-up but the time’s a little thin.

  6. Jay Thompson

    September 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    “I don’t like that kind of branding, what are your thoughts?”

    My gut instinct Missy is the odds of someone seeing your name on the scoreboard, writing it down, going to the site when they get home, and deciding to use you as their agent, are remote.

    Networking at school events is vastly more personal than a name/site/number on a scoreboard. Besides, at least at my kids high school, the audience in the seats consists of 85% students, and 15% parents. Half of which are band parents that arrive shortly before halftime and leave immediately after. The demographics of a high school football crowd don’t seem to fit well with real estate.

    In other words, I suspect the ROI is low.

    Then again, some people swear by billboards which are much more expensive and require a similar effort on the lead/prospect/visitor/potential future clients part.

  7. Cheryl Johnson

    September 27, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    To Missy, 3.5K would be a little too rich for my taste, too. But whatever, it’s not your name on the scoreboard that matters. It’s the parent or Board member that ~sold~ the advertising to you remembering what a great, smart, generous person you are….

  8. Steve Simon

    September 28, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Don’t flame me, I think charity and giving back should be done; but not to further your business.
    First I think without any additional follow-up your name on the back of a “Softball Fundraising T-Shirt” does very little to garner you any business in the community. To me the reputation you want to establish for business purposes should be “professional, hard working, successful, knowledgeable about my field”. Being known as a “Pig Kisser”, or an easy touch for team advertising, will in my opinion get you on the short list for those looking for a “Cow Milker”.
    Which as I started off saying, “Is not bad, it’s good to give. Just be giving because you want to help not profit from it…
    Just my thoughts 🙂

  9. Bill Lublin

    September 28, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Steve; I don’t want to flame you, but I think you should be kissed (though not by me)
    Networking is networking – and to me that’s working the room – charity or good deeds should be done because you want to do them or they need to be done. And except for the way you feel when you help someone, they really are their own reward.

  10. Rich Jacobson

    September 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I think you need to balance the two, both online and offline branding/reputations. And they both need to be the ‘REAL’ deal. I’ve seen way too many ‘online’ personalities who claim to be one thing, but in reality, are something entirely different.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    September 28, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    …before meeting my amazing wife, I kissed a lot of pigs. I had no idea there was money to be made doing so – had I only known!

    Seriously, the most successful agents I’ve worked with have sat down with a consultant or media adviser and established a way to get their name out. Unfortunately, we’re still trying to convince agents that not only is it ok to ask for business – it’s a requirement. The best way to “ask” for business is to show you’re willing to work for it and to educate the consumer as to why they need it. Public relations is an important part yeah

    We have given several agents lists of media contacts for our area in the past. Unfortunately we only see very few use those lists.

  12. Paula Henry

    September 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Matthew – LOL – you probably just won points with your wife 🙂

    Wherever you give your time or resources, I believe you must have a passion for it. I have a special place in my heart for children. Last week is was a donation for Juvenile Diabetes because in my previous life as a Licensed Day care provider, I took care of a child who had Type 1 diabetes.
    I also donate to Riley Childrens Hospital because they once took care of my son when he was a baby. I advocate for causes I believe in; because I have passion for them.

    If I were recognized for doing so, great, but the reward is in the giving for me.

    I do agree we need to be active in our community to know what is going on. Find something you love and it will be obvious. Business is a by-product of the activity you love to do anyway.

  13. Cyndee Haydon

    September 28, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Heather – I loved reading about original post about your Pig Kissing Opportunity and think you made a great point here about connecting in our communities. We are lucky as Missy said because our kids are still school age and we homeschool so there’s a close network of a couple of hundred families locally that all participate in an online forum and in weekly co-ops where we all pitch in so it’s been a great way to help our and get to know others. We also are active in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and our church. It is important to balance Online and offline – still think that Pig Kissing was brilliant – just saying (gotta keep my eyes open for something like that with great viral marketing ability – loved it!)

  14. Mark Voorheis

    September 29, 2008 at 7:14 am

    “What are you doing to interact locally?”

    I’m a big fan of walking my neighborhood, and I try to do it at least twice a year. Walking around and handing out something…usually this time of year trick or treat bags with my name/contact info on them. People always want me to stop and chat about the market. How’s it going, where do I think it’s going, etc. I think it is a great way to set yourself apart from all of the other agents mailing into the neighborhood. People have had a chance to meet you face to face.

    As for the discussion above about advertising in school/church/charity publications…I have always made a point of advertising in my church bulletin. I don’t think that people who don’t already know me will necessarily be swayed by the ad, but there may be people who do know me, but didn’t know that I was a Realtor. This type of advertising helps me make sure that people who would consider doing business with me know that I am in Real Estate. I have had plenty of calls from my church bulletin ad.

  15. Mack

    September 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Did someone say “Lipstick on a Pig”?

  16. Heather Elias

    September 30, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Jay: it was not a pretty pig, the pic would not have been attractive! Will have to check out, thanks for the tip!

    Nick: the other contestants thought I was a lock to win it because of the paypal account I set up to take donations! I was grateful for all the media coverage, for sure…

    Monika: I was glad too when I saw it! (they didn’t really clean him up at all!)

    Missy: I agree with Jay, I think for that cost it isn’t really going to reach your target audience…

    Jonathan: Hmm, beagle meet up? Let me know how that goes for you… 😉

    Cheryl: I think it’s a bit expensive, too!!

    Steve: no flaming! Honestly, I didn’t think that I needed to point out that community service was a good thing in and of itself, outside of the benefits it could bring your business. That’s just a given!

    Bill: agreed. It’s wonderful when you can enjoy your work and help the community at the same time… (and kisses for you, too!)

    Rich: exactly! If you aren’t genuine that will be evident no matter how much sugarcoating is put on top! 😉

    Matt: I believe that real estate agents as a whole don’t work with the media enough to shore up our perception and image as an industry…

    Paula: I love this, “Find something you love and it will be obvious.” Exactly!!!

    Cyndee: It sure caught attention! It also gave my sphere of influence a way to jump in and help me do it, too…made it their project as well as mine.

    Mark: Great to see my biz partner jumping into the conversation here on AG! (everyone wave hi to Mark, please!) I love your point about making sure that people who know you, know that you are a Realtor, in a low pressure way. That’s hitting the nail on the head!

    Mack: Nope, nobody said that at all… =)

  17. Jeff "I Should Have Donated More" Turner

    October 10, 2008 at 12:52 am

    You already know how I feel about this topic, but I couldn’t let your first post here pass without leaving a comment. All I know is I should have donated more. All this community exposure for you is nice and all, but I wanted to see you kiss the pig.

  18. A Coffey - Maximum Referrals

    June 5, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Interesting post, especially the social networking aspect of this. It’s funny, we have cells, texts, tweets, email, and more ways than ever to get in touch with people… and STILL can’t reach people when we want! 🙂 We need to stop hiding out behind the techno-stuff and get back to old fashioned face-to-face interactions.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.



Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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