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Reflections on Word Choices (And Pigs)

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Updated By: Claudia Moder on Tue, Aug 29, 2017

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a pig. Bear with me for a moment here - this does relate to marketing. I recently read a book called Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time. I was already a fan of Esther on Facebook and Instagram. Esther is being raised by her two dads, Steve and Derek, in a rural setting in Ontario. Initially, they were told that she was a mini pig (which, as Steve explains in the book, doesn’t really exist) but as it turned out, she was a regular market pig. However, instead of getting rid of her, they bought a farm (using money raised via crowdfunding) and started a sanctuary for animals like Esther. Esther lives indoors with her dads while the other farm animals live outside.  


A Pig, the V-Word, and a Shift

Today, Esther weighs well over 600 pounds and her Facebook page boasts over one million followers. Her owners post funny photos and videos of Esther. Sometimes, an enormous turkey named Cornelius walks into the house and parades through the living room. Esther’s fans learn a lot about pigs just by following her antics. Did you know that pigs are generally considered to be smarter than dogs?  Esther is so adept at opening the refrigerator that they’ve had to scramble to outsmart her. I was also surprised to learn just how much pigs sleep. Esther has her own queen-size bed, of course.

When Esther came into their lives, Steve and Derek stopped eating meat almost immediately. However, they never use the V word even though their diet is clearly vegan. They explain the reason for their word choice in the book. Endorsing a vegan diet just seemed to cause in-fighting among Esther’s followers. The word carries a lot of weight and often seems to be packaged with the construct of radical activism. Instead, Esther’s dads refer to their diet as “Esther approved.” The book features some great recipes at the end, too.


The Consumer Bias

A Reflection on Word Choice and Pigs

Although I adhere to a vegan diet myself (and have no problem saying so), I completely understand why Esther’s dads would shy away from the word. They have started a pretty impressive movement, and they keep it going by being lighthearted, funny, and informative. They believe that people will see a mint-loving pig in a muumuu and start thinking about their own diet - all done in a way that’s very non-confrontational. The strategy seems to be pretty effective; I’ve seen countless posts from visitors saying that they changed their diet because of Esther.

Periodically, my daughter and I volunteer with our church to prepare and serve a meal at a local homeless shelter. Our volunteers also bring baked goods. My daughter usually bakes brownies. Last time, I decided to bring chocolate chip cookies in addition to her brownies. I have an amazing recipe and yes, it happens to be vegan.

As we staffed the dessert table and doled out treats to the residents, I told my daughter, “Don’t mention that the cookies are vegan.” One woman with a particularly insistent sweet tooth came back three times for more of those cookies. I wasn’t trying to hide anything or to trick the residents. However, I know that “vegan” is a charged term and this wasn’t the time or place to debate the merits of tofu. We were simply there to serve.


Word Search, KTR, and Relevance

In conversations with clients over the years, the importance of words and language on a company’s website comes up often. Words carry a lot of weight and using the most effective terms is crucial. I often remind clients that the industry-specific terminology they use internally may not match what their prospective buyers are Googling. What if a company assumes that the general public is conducting searches using the term “recreational vehicle” but they are actually searching the term “camper” instead? We worked with a YMCA that was using the term “aquatics” to describe their pool-related programs. It’s a term that makes complete sense to those who work there. However, most parents search for “swim classes” when looking for something for their kids to do on Wednesday nights. Making small adjustments in language can often lead to big results.

This common problem of choosing the most effective language highlights the importance of keyword research. There is no need to guess whether you need to market campers, RVs, or motor homes. It’s possible to know for sure! It all boils down to having great copy on your website and having a thorough understanding of your audience and its needs.

And, if you can somehow find a way to include a photo of an enormous house-pig wearing sunglasses, your traffic is sure to go through the roof.

Make your brand better & more successful
Claudia Moder

About The Author

Claudia Moder

With a background in project management, Claudia's unofficial mantra is: "Big things can always be broken up into smaller things." She prides herself on her organizational skills, her ability to get along with many different types of people, and her commitment to doing what's best for our clients. Outside the office, Claudia enjoys embarrassing her only child, trying new vegan recipes, practicing yoga, and fostering dogs for the humane society. She grew up in Northern Virginia and, despite living in the midwest for over 20 years now, she refuses to mispronounce roof, creek, and root beer.

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