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Why, Oh Why Do You Send Me Such Things?



I do have ?

The setup

For those readers who don’t know, I am no longer a Realtor. In November of 2007 I left being a Realtor and went on staff at my local Association, working as the Education Director. I still routinely receive those annoying “Just Listed” and “Please sell my listing” e-mails in my personal e-mail box. I hated them when I was practicing and I hate them more now. Mainly because I HAVE MLS ACCESS! If I have a client that is interested in a certain property, please spend time ensuring that your MLS entry stands out….not sending me more junk mail. I won’t even bore you with my rhetoric about how poorly educated the Realtor community is on CAN SPAM…

The Latest Gift

Two days ago I received an e-mail on my personal account from an agent in a neighboring MLS. An MLS system and local board that I have never been a member of. The e-mail was very simple. It said, “Here is my new listing, please click the link below and let me know if you have any questions.” The price was moderate to high for that area. The listing had been in MLS for several days. I have no idea what possessed me to click on the link, but I did and here are my questions –

1. Why are there NO pictures on this listing. Not one single picture of a “waterfront” property?!?!

2. Why did you send me the Agent side listing with the combination to the lockbox, when I am not a member of your board and I haven’t been practicing for six months?

3. Why does your description simply say “Waterfront, Canoe launch and ready to sell?”

a. If it’s listed, doesn’t that already lead me to believe the it’s ready to sell?

b. Canoe launch? Isn’t kind of something that you can carry on your shoulder and just throw in the water?

c. If that’s the most you can say about the listing, than why would I possible want to go see it?

4. Does your seller know that over 87% of listings sell from MLS and that over 60% of consumers will not even look at a listing that doesn’t have AT LEAST six photos?

5. Why is the directions entry blank

6. Why are there no measurements?

7. Why do I have to call the School Board to find the schools that service the area? Do you not know enough about this area?

8. Does your seller know how tremendously under-qualified you evidentially are, to list their home?

What more is there to say?

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is

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  1. Beth Skinner

    April 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

    !!!YES!!! I have had to create more and more filters on my email account just to gather all the spam I get from Realtors, Title folk and Mortgage Brokers. The generic spam “buy viagra for 10 cents each!” doesn’t bother me as much as the people who purposely sit down and send me their listing/title/mortgage junk to the email address they either stole off my blog or got from my local board (which is another issue altogether).

    And then there’s my boss who forwards the SAME spam to me as some sort of educational announcement I guess. Arrrrgggghhhh!!!

    One company in the area who sends me agent spam all the time, recently emailed me and asked me to click on a link to verify my “subscription.” Since I never “subscribed” to begin with I didn’t click on it. Of course they still send me emails. Although I no longer see them because they’re set up to head directly to the trash now.

    Sigh. I feel a little better now.

  2. Irina Netchaev

    April 24, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Matt, I can not agree more with you. What a disgrace! It’s amazing how many properties show up on the MLS (forget the emails from agents) without pictures (yes… I know how hard it is to pick from a huge range of digital cameras!) or even a description of the property. I bet the seller of this home would be excited to know that everyone and their mother has access to enter their home. Very, very sad!

    As far as the actual emails from agents – yes… they can be annoying. Although, once in awhile I get an email that is so well presented that it makes me look at the property again.

  3. Julie Emery

    April 24, 2008 at 9:17 am

    The percentage of properties with no or one photo, no measurements and no school info is astonishing. In a tough market it’s actually rising! I understand that agents listing REOs and short sales are often choosing to work for a lower commission to work in volume. But do the banks and the sellers of these properties understand what bad service they’re getting?!

    You’d think basic professionalism would require some minimum standards of information provided!

  4. Matthew Rathbun

    April 24, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Julie – I happen to think that MLS shouldn’t allow listings in MLS without a photo, but what do I know!?!?

    At a minimum agents should remember that MLS is usually a database. If I do a search for homes over 2000 square feet and your listing matches all other criteria and maybe over 3000 square feet – but if you leave that field as zero or empty, it won’t come up.

  5. Nick Bostic

    April 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I’m on the email list of an agent for a development that I am seriously interested in. She sent out a PDF flyer (annoyed already) of the last house to sell. I looked it over multiple times before finally emailing her and saying “Maybe I just missed it, but I didn’t see a price, bed/bath count or square footage. Did I overlook something?” The response was “Nope, here is the info you requested.”

    Is it just me or are these things no-brainers if you want to move a listing?

  6. Danilo Bogdanovic

    April 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I used to work for a team that sent out email blasts every time someone had a new listing and when there was a price adjustment on any of the listings. The thing I heard most often from other agents was “You’re on that team that spams me with emails about their listings!”

    As for the missing information…I guess some people just don’t get it.

  7. John Lauber

    April 24, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I’m with you on this one Matt. Now there’s a new “service” that will blast everyone in surrounding states. I’m in PA, they’re in NJ. I guess they want my referral since I’m not licensed there? As if I wasn’t getting enough of these things already, I need to get your Sunday open house announcement from NJ.

    Full disclosure, I did use one of these services once. I regretted it, knowing CAN-SPAM, etc., and knowing how I feel about receiving them. Similarly, I’m not sure how the paper fliers are worth anything either. The trash can over the weekend gets filled by agents stopping in the office. I’m not sure how this archaic practice still sells homes (if it does). If my client search finds your home, I’ll show it. If my broker tour has your house on the list, I may be stopping by to see it. I think it’s a seller thing. The listing agent can say, “Look how technology savvy I am as I can email all the agents in the area about your listing.” And then they can forward the email to their seller. The seller thinks “wow”, while the agent that actually sells the house didn’t even see the email because it went to their junk folder, but they did find it on their MLS search for their client.

    Like Danilo said. Some people just don’t get it on the details and lack of photos.

  8. Glenn fm Naples

    April 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Matt – glad you posted the questions. 🙂 I don’t mind getting e-mails announcing a new listing – I could have missed it from the hot sheet.
    What I do dislike is just listed email from some real agent or real estate brokerage thousands of miles from their market! Guess with the cost of e-mail lists the agents or brokerage can justify the cost of acquisition of the list by sending to everyone on the list? However, imagine the seller hearing during the listing presentation “I send an e-mail announcement of your home to 50,000 real estate agents. Now, can another real estate agent beat that type of promotion?” LOL
    Unfortunately today, the accuracy of the information is not as good as it could be and often times, the very information lacking could affect the DOM.

  9. Melina Tomson

    April 25, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I never understand sellers that hire people like this…don’t they realize that they have choices?

    I love my delete button.

  10. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    April 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    I do not like getting most e-mails of properties from most realtors. However there are some very creative ones that I enjoy looking at. I do read them if its something of interest. To have no photos and decent copy is a disserive to the seller. In a way You should be glad we have some competitors like that since it means more business for us.

  11. Jon Griffith

    May 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    E-mail is dead, in my opinion. The best way for me to get my information is to subscribe to it. If you intend to market through e-mail, you will, as consistently as the recipient tries to stop the mail, be looking for ways to make sure that they get it, and that’s a complete waste of time.

    E-mail marketing campaigns, in order to be effective at all, need to be targeted campaigns focused on specific criteria. It also needs to be of value to the recipient. Nobody wants junk in their mail, and most people don’t have time to sift through what seems to be junk to find that diamond in the rough.

    If I’m looking for a property for my client, I start with the MLS. If your property isn’t in the MLS, then perhaps you aren’t really a REALTOR, in which case, I’m not so sure I want to do business with you, unless choosing not to do so isn’t in the best interest of my client.

    If I want specific information in this day and age, I go to the feed. I don’t rely on e-mail for anything more than specific, targeted communication designed to respond to the recipient’s previous request for information. If I send out any blanket e-mails, I always provide a way for the recipient to opt out.

    RSS Feeds solve the problem of receiving crap in the inbox. When I want information about an area, I subscribe to the feed. When I want to know if someone posts a comment on this comment thread, I subscribe to the feed. I don’t mark the “send me an e-mail every time someone posts” checkbox on anything as long as there is a feed to monitor. That way, my feed reader can keep track of what I have and have not read, and I don’t have to fill up my mailbox with absolute useless junk.

    I was recently added to some e-flyer database and I began receiving those idiotic flyers and I hadn’t initiated contact with the company to begin with. GRRRRR! No bueno.

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?



blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.



Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.



Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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