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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

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.



Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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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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