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Business Marketing

Your Vicious Competitors



original photo by: glynnish


In the world of online dating, the sea of website options are endless, all promising the perfect love connection.  EHarmony has a massive following and a very expensive ad campaign- we are all educated about their philosophy that you are matched on multiple levels after taking what equates to a psych evaluation test.  The theory is that instead of lust matching, the site matches you with your soulmate.  The founder of eHarmony has publicly asserted that he believes that premarital sex clouds your judgment.


After putting all of these pieces together, a rival company called has launched a print marketing and television campaign encouraging people who were rejected from eHarmony to come join their site, for people who don’t agree that premarital sex clouds your judgment to come hang out and swap photos.  Their theory is that you can take all the tests in the world, but if you show up and the date is an ugo, you’re not going to stay.

Smart Business

What appears from a non-insider to be a mud slinging contest is actually really smart business on both parts.  One company wears a halo and matches you with your future spouse while the other wears devil horns by appealing to the primal urges of non-commital dating.  Both succeed because they aren’t actually pandering to the same crowd, rather providing alternatives to each other.

Who Are You?

That said, it’s important to think about this- who are you in this scenario?  No, I’m not asking if you believe premarital sex clouds judgment or not, rather if you are the company founded on traditional grounds, or are you providing an alternative to your competitor?  Better yet, are you the company that’s neither, rather the company whining that you’re being attacked by the alternative to your business instead of taking advantage of their bashing? 

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Toby & Saide

    March 12, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I’m sorry my judgement is clouded, I’ll have to read this again.

    Ahh, yes.

    I’m neither. I’m happy to compete with anyone, but there is no reason to get personal with it.

  2. Rocky VanBrimmer

    March 12, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Seeing that Toby and Saide are in my direct market, and my judgement is not clouded…

    And for some reason, I would still enjoy meeting Toby for a cup of coffee or lucnh even. The date may be a dud, however I think Sadie could pay!

  3. Rocky VanBrimmer

    March 12, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    By the way, its after midnight. EyE kaNt TyPe oAr sEpLL.

  4. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    It’s funny because when I was reading this, I wasn’t thinking who I was as the “type of company”, I was thinking of who my clients are and how to market to them. Whichever way you look at it, it goes back to who your audience is and who we are writing for as bloggers, and who we are marketing to whether the new and exiting web2.0 way or with traditional methods.

    I’m so enjoying the marketing aspect of our business- and thinking that every move we make will determine how you attract business. —–sorry to switch it around on you…..maybe my judgement is clouded as well.

  5. Ginger Wilcox

    March 12, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    I think I wear a halo and devil’s horns at the same time (and no I am not a whiner! 😮 )
    I think you can embrace change and provide a different alternative while still retaining some traditional elements. I don’t believe it is all or nothing.

  6. From Seth Godin, “One of the hardest things to do is invent a brand with no opposite. You don’t have an anchor to play against.”

  7. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Do you guys think would be even a recognizable name if they weren’t the ANTI-eHarmony? I agree with Jeff that there’s nothing wrong with being the ANTI because with every product, there’s a segment that won’t want or like it, so why the heck not capitalize on that?

    I believe the company I work for is the Anti-1.0 model. 🙂 No Trillionaire Realtor book subscriptions, no “tell me buddyman, what would you do if I told you I could sell your home for 20% above your neighbors’?” cold calling, or smarmy tricks.

  8. Shailesh Ghimire

    March 13, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I’m eHarmony – its the orgy promoted by Chemistry that got us into the credit mess…

  9. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 21, 2008 at 11:42 am

    @Shailesh- OMG that is tooooo funny!

    @Dawn- I had no idea, that’s insane! I think you’ve got a revolutionary idea, that “going to the park” thingy- wow, you should market that and make a billion dollars! 🙂 Thanks for coming over to Agent Genius, this world is WAY too small!!!

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?



Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.



Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.



Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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