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Does It Suck or Shine? A Self Quiz.




It’s been raining gloom and drops of attitude acid for some time.  We can stoop, wait and see if the stimulus sun will begin to burn peep holes through the malaise and hang over haze, or WE can take matters into our own capable hands.

In this post I’m sharing  action ideas.  Embrace these idea embers and burn through your barriers. 

Let’s begin with 3 questions.  

1.  What is “Marketing?”

2.  Does it Suck or Shine?

3.  What are you going to do about it?

1. What is Marketing?

In the real estate business, everything is a marketing message. Everything we see, hear, feel, touch, sense and smell is marketing.  Our marketing Attracts (Yea!), Repels (Ut-Oh) or Does Nothing (Double Ut-Oh). 

Sadly, I’m going bald.   Some would say I’m already bald.   Choosing to cut my hair short, choosing a comb over or choosing a hair hat, all are marketing messages. Enough said?

If my shoes are un-shined and my heels worn, that’s marketing – the clueless kind.

The perfume you wear is marketing.  So are your earrings and eyeshadow. Scent and sight are signals.

Responsibly returning calls is marketing.  I care, I’m too important to care or I’m an unreliable dufus.

The words I choose when writing my blog posts is marketing.  Word selection matters.  Seriously, watch this video – The Story Of A Sign.  It’s 5 minutes long and worth every second.  Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

My bio and picture at the bottom of this page and in all our on-line bio pages is marketing.  

Telling people you’re not very tech savvy, that’s a mental midget marketing message.

The colors we wear screams, whimpers or whispers a marketing message.  See us, pity us or trust us.

The crew we hang with, that’s marketing too.  Birds of a feather and all…quack, waddle, quack or soaring eagle?

The print quality of our fliers is marketing.  I’m a PRO, I’m an amateur or I’m brain dead.

Showing up on time is marketing.  Showing up late is rude and marketing too.

Egoism, ill temper, impatience, intolerance, small mindedness = Misfit Marketing Message.  

Our eMail signature is marketing.  Are we including links for Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Linkedn and our blog?  Why not?  If we do and others don’t, is that good, sad or bad?

When chatting or on appointments, do you interrupt your conversation to take calls?  That’s Marketing Fail 101.

Spitting excuses is marketing.  Nobody I know likes to be spit on.  How about you?

Smiling and encouraging others is positive marketing.  Engaging in destructive gossip is negative marketing.  

A disheveled desk, dress or attitude is dullard marketing. 

In most markets, sellers and buyers can choose from 100’s of agents, maybe 1,000’s.  People choose to pay handsome fees to attractive people, not attractive as in good looking, attractive as in positive, enthusiastic and savvy.   People they like and people they trust.  Ask yourself, “Self, do my marketing messages SUCK or SHINE?”

Here’s a Q & A  ”Does it Suck or Shine” checklist.

2. Does It Suck or Shine?

Marketing sucks when a business card photo is all glammed up and was taken years ago.  Be real, it’s better.

Marketing sucks if you don’t wear a name badge during working hours.  If you will, it makes you magnetically approachable.  Something unexpectedly fantastic can happen.  If you won’t, it can’t.

Marketing sucks if you’re not on Facebook.  There are 175 million people on facebook.  NAR sez there are around 1.2 million card carrying REALTORS.  What percentage of the 1.2 million is on Facebook?  Let’s be wildly optomistic, let’s say 10%.  That would be 102 thousand REALTORS connecting and networking with 174.88 million civilians.  Run don’t walk.  Let’s be FB friends?  Let’s be Twitter friends?

Marketing sucks if your MLS pictures don’t sparkle and inspire, as in ” Wow!  I’m going to call the listing agent to get more information.”  Listen, we know more pictures and better pictures attract more views and caffeinate lead generation.  I’d refer you to the statistical studies, but that’s a waste of our time.  It’s common sense.  This is important. Do it right, do it well.  Pay someone if you have too.

Marketing sucks if you don’t send handwritten notes after conversations with friends, past clients, suspects or prospects.  How many hunks of junk mail cram your mail box in a week?  How many lovely handwritten note cards do you receive in a week?  Handwritten notes are remarkable.  ”Remarkable” is the indelible ink that tattoos your Top Of Mind Awareness onto memories.   Your Mom, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Scott Geinsberg, Brian Buffani and Your Intuition and all recommend this, why don’t we do it?  Let’s get to it!

Marketing sucks if you send direct mail and you don’t follow-up with personal contact.  When’s the last time you gave a stranger $27,000 because they sent you a lame post card?  They don’t and you wouldn’t either.  ”Direct Mail” should be renamed  ”Reason To Call Mail”.  People pay handsome fees to people they know personally, not direct mail strangers. I have three words for you:  Send, Call, See.  Not: Send, hope, pray.

Marketing sucks if your MLS property descriptions, advertising, marketing and promotional copy is tarted up with lame ass ad speak or bloated with cottage-cheese-cliche cellulite. You gotta make “magic” not “monotone”.  Here’s an example of crap copy and great copy.

Marketing sucks if your Voice Mail message drips drone.  Here’s some “Voice Mail Hell” be gone,  How To Vodoo.

Marketing sucks if you’re burning cash money on marketing and you don’t know what your financial returns are.  Stop, evaluate, reallocate.  Don’t spend more.  Maybe taking a gaggle of friends to a movie would shine more fun, deepen relationships and yippee your referral business. Try it.

What Are We Going To Do About It?

See anything here you can implement post haste?  Again, embracing these ideas is damn near free.   You can stoop, wait and hope for natural sunlight and rescue or you can generate your own brand of blazing Serendipity Sunshine. 

If you have some idea embers you would recommend to others, let’s share them in comments below.  I know we’d all appreciate hearing from you.

Shine on you crazy diamonds.


“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” 
– Tom Robbins

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Christ Borden

    March 6, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Great insight into the power of good and bad marketing. I have spent a lot of money initially in my marketing materials (at a time when most agents are hesitant) but I knew it would pay off and I understand that as the owner of my business, I must invest in that business. This strategy has paid off and I am often amazed at how short-sighted others in our profession are when it comes to investing in their business. Cheap does not cut it with today’s savvy consumer. Thank you again for your missive on marketing.

  2. Matt Thomson

    March 6, 2009 at 9:56 am

    You’re right, that was worth the 5 minutes. Great reminder.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    March 6, 2009 at 11:47 am


    You sound like you’ve been doing this awhile or something 🙂 This is true gold, brother. The only negative is that I’m running out of wall space to hang your posts.

    Keep up your dazzle

  4. Jonathan Phan

    March 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Marketing isn’t too bad. haha

  5. Agentjason

    March 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Great post and love the cartoon to start off with!

    PS. I’ve only been practicing our craft for 5475 days. 🙁

  6. Ken Brand

    March 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Christ – That’s some name you have there:-) I’m with you, people looking for a handout, not willing to invest, makes no sense. The only positive is there is one, they make the achiever look even more magnificent. amen.

    Matt – Thanks – yeah, it’s a powerful video and a great example don’t you think? Of course you do, you said that. Cheers.

    Erion – Thanks, if it goes right, your wall space is gonna look like that dude’s garage in the movie a Beautiful Mind. Ha, ha. Be well.

    Jonathan – Ha, ha indeed….all the way to big bank. Thanks.

    AgentJason – 5K+ is killer. What’s his name, the Outliers guy sez that 10,000 hours make you a master. You’re a freaking Master-Master. Rock on.

  7. Christi Borden

    March 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Oops, slip of the fingers. I promise I do not have a god complex. I look forward to seeing you at the PGG Awards Breakfast. Will you be heading to Vegas for the convention? See you soon.

  8. Neil Kearney

    March 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Ken, Thanks – Great stuff! You are absolutely right, half way in marketing gets you nowhere. The smart and targeted thrive while the “try this” and then “try another” crowd spins their wheels.

  9. Russell Shaw

    March 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Christ, it’s Christi!

    Really nice article, Ken. 🙂

  10. Lisa Sanderson

    March 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Ken, I am becoming a huge fan of yours. Love this. Will share!

  11. Barry Wolfert

    March 9, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    This is a great post. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this market has worn me down. I’m working harder than ever and not making money doing it. The harder it gets, the more resigned I’ve become and that has allowed me to lose my edge.

    You’re absolutely right – everything sends a message and every message is marketing. No one wants to hire someone who is resigned and off their game.

    Your post has re-energized me. I don’t know when this market will turn but I’m not going to be at the end of the line when it does. Starting tomorrow, things get polished, the day starts earlier and I’m going to the front of the line.

    When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Thank you master!

  12. Ken Brand

    March 9, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Christi – Ha, ha….of course. I was thinking that if it really was “Christ”, I’d imagine that many people simply couldn’t say NO. They’d be compelled to say yes. Yep, I’ll be heading to Vegas for the convention. Can’t wait, hope to see you there.

    Neil – Correct sir, gotta burn the boats and build bridges. amen.

    Russell – Thanks. I’m seriously enjoy the electric undercurrent your style pulses with.

    Thanks Lisa, you’re kind and I appreciate your support:-)

    Barry – I feel you brother, at times it’s feels like a forced march on “The Trail of Tears”. I’m glad that you’ve found some inspiration, it helps me to stay on track by writing it. As for student and teacher, I believe we all learn from each other, one day we learn, the next we teach, it’s all about the sharing. You’ve inspired me to share all I can. Thanks.

  13. David Tapper

    March 10, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Good stuff, Ken. A friend just told me about your site.

    My marketing plan is very effective, but I need to throw some stuff out that’s not turning results.

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Business Marketing

7 low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses to grow their reach

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.



Man leaning against wall on phone representing marketing.

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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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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