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A Day of In the Life of a Hollywood Real Estate Agent

A Day in the Life of A Hollywood Real Estate Agent – From Sharks to Shrapnel



Hollywood_signSpeak Quietly – I’m Nursing a Colossal Headache.

After a reader read my rant last week, “R U Networking or NOTworking,” he sagely challenged me to try a day of face-to-face marketing. (For those of you who cannot recall what that is, it involves getting out of your chair.) Moron that I am, I accepted his challenge and headed out onto the mean streets of Los Angeles to solicit clients. This is the bizarre story I barely lived to tell:

8:00 am: I pop out of bed. (That’s early for us showbiz types.) After donning my fake designer duds I head out the door of my Hansel-and-Gretel-size overpriced house, jump into my leased Mercedes, wave to my stoned neighbor, try to back over a slow-moving kid (hey – this is L.A., not Iowa – speed or bleed!), and serpentine down Laurel Canyon with throngs of other Los Angelinos who feel that driving should never distract them from texting. Twenty minutes later, I finally arrive at Rite-Aid Drugs, which is practically walking distance to my house.

9:30 am: I run into Rite-Aid to grab a few of the props I will need for marketing: 1. Red Bull. (I do not drink caffeine because my synapses are already challenged, but I must have it visible in my car in order to look cool.) 2. Gourmet dog cookies and 3. Pepper Spray, which the somnolent salesclerk insists they don’t sell. When I tell her I am about to embark on direct marketing and ask if the store sells firearms, she threatens to call the manager. I slip out the door before the manager/actor/bartender/waiter can find me and assault me with a head shot.

Let The Games Begin!

9:45 am: Outside the store a group of people have congregated. With utmost confidence, I approach the group and hand out my business cards, offering to price their homes or answer any questions they may have, as though I am the Oracle of Re-fi. One guy asks me if I will marry him and have his demon spawn, and another turns his back on me and pees on a nearby newspaper stand.  (Apparently my pitch needs polishing.) After an old lady with a shopping cart full of broken dolls offers me a toke off her joint, I conclude that this is not my target audience and move on, making a mental note to purchase a bean bag gun.

10:00 am: I walk next door to the Griddle, a popular Hollywood hang for the industry folks. (Yes I would have driven the 50 yards to live up to the stereotype, but in this town, a parking spot is harder to get than a great review.) I chat it up with a friendly crowd who are all waiting for tables. Clever person that I am, I offer their dogs cookies whenever a furry head pops out of a gazillion dollar purse. Eventually I come out of the closet and announce that I can satisfy all their real estate needs 24-7.  That’s right, my new BFFs, I am a virtual CNN of Real Estate!

All of a sudden, the group collectively breaks into riotous laughter. A  few actually bend over, grasp their sides and guffaw. Noticing my baffled expression, someone in the crowd finally wheezes, “We’re writers and actors – mostly unemployed. We can’t afford s__t!”

“But your expensive dogs…and your Tag Heuer watches…,” I weakly protest.

“We’re dog walkers, lady, and the watches are swag from luxury parties where we host or tend bar…”

“But, but…the Prada bags…”

“Gorgeous, huh?” one coiffed guy squeals, “Isn’t mine divine? I may be unemployed, but I look HOT. Image is everything,” he intones, as though it’s a moral imperative.

Feeling a bit defeated, I slink away with my Ebay bag and my unwanted business cards, still determined to find my audience.

Fools Rush In

10:30 am: The HUB (Hollywood Unemployment Brigade) continues to laugh as I crawl into my car, which is now covered in crow crapple, and drive away. I pop a can of Red Bull and chug the evil beverage as I drive past them, just to let them know I’m hipper than I seem.

I make my way to the Santa Monica Freeway and head for a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, confident that I will find my target group. While speeding along the freeway at a neck breaking 10 miles an hour, I manage to get two dates, one donut tossed through my window, and a Lane Four Nap.

12:00 pm: I arrive at the Sheraton refreshed and ready to hustle. By now my lips are stuck to my teeth as a result of a 7.5 Richter Scale Red Bull rush, and several people are moving back from me to keep a safe distance. I am sure I hear someone call me, “Sybil,” as I inadvertently do my impersonation of Jim Carrey in The Mask. With one perfectly manicured thumbnail,  I manage to peel my lips off my teeth and forge on.

After a quick meet and greet, we all sit down to a “healthy” luncheon that actually scares me… I’m told that the red mass on my plate is a beet, tofu and egg white quiche, but I am convinced the chef accidentally severed an appendage and bled into the egg whites. After biting down into what has to be a finger, I push aside my swill and get down to business.

How to Close a Deal With Minimal Blood Shed

I am proud as I press hands and put a personal face on my business plan, as opposed to social networking from my reclusive inner sanctum. I am amazed at the flurry of cards being tossed into the center of the table like chips in a high stakes poker game. There are cards with color, embossing, gold edging, photos, corners burned with a match for effect (seriously), and even one with a pop-up cake. (Mine is a simple little tri-fold, four color number with a hologram of me holding a sign that says I’ll Hustle My Bustle For Your Biz. If you press the bubble next to my sparkling teeth, the card plays Hooray for Hollywood! You may have noticed that I am never subtle.)

The girl across the table reads my card and suddenly stiffens. Her eyeballs dilate as her body screams, “OMG – ANOTHER AGENT!” Several more bodies at the table stiffen in rapid succession. Only one man, a judge, seems unfazed. All eyes turn to the hapless judge in hunger. He clutches his heart, shrinks in his chair, and prepares for the assault. I know it’s going to be a pissing contest that no one will win. A scarred veteran of Agent Wrestling, I forfeit the game. As I prepare to leave, Short Sale Sally, who is sitting next to me, shoves me aside and practically squeals at the thought of one less jackal on the judge’s carcass.

“Here, you can have my quiche,” I say as I leave, “And I am giving you the finger, too.”

Mea Culpa, I Havta Gulpa

4:33 pm: After another road trip home that is so long it practically requires an airdrop food mission, I drag my sorry self through the door. There, in peaceful Laurel Canyon, I kick off my shoes, change into my refugee clothing, and fire up my computer to wait for my social networking friends to check in. Gleefully, I talk to a thousand people via Twitter, Facebook and Agent Genius, and no one threatens to pee on my leg.

Slowly, carefully, I eat most of my words about the evils of social networking and admit to my war torn self that I simply must find a happy medium between FTF and KTK before I am KIA.

6:42 pm: My fingers mechanically type the following phrase: Mea Culpa, Ima Dopa.

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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  1. Fred Romano

    August 21, 2009 at 10:09 am

    LMFAO! This is the MOST entertaining story on AG… I was mezmorized reading it, didn’t want it to end, and laughed the entire time. Wowi you can really write, maybe you’re in the wrong business.

  2. Brandie Young

    August 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

    You never fail to crack me up! If you are even slightly as charming in person as you are here, you must have people flocking to you. Perhaps the next challenge should be targeting … (not as in practice – as a fellow Californian I would never suggest such a thing)

  3. Ken Brand

    August 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    WOW! If I move to Hollywood can I be your assistant gofer. Sounds like you have more fun than anyone I know and I want in, even if I have to start at the sub-basement level.

    You RULE!


    PS. What’s a Red Bull?

  4. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you, Fred…but if I were not in Real Estate, from where would I get all my material? Besides, this wacko business keeps me on the crazy train 🙂

  5. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Yes, Brandie – I need remedial work in targeting. But if I hit a bullseye, I wouldn’t meet all the bizarre characters I meet daily. Oh wait a minute – I live in Los Angeles – of course I would!

  6. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I’ll be waiting for you, Ken. Our first task will simply be for entertainment: The Death Tour – all the famous spots known for macabre events. This could take days. We can spend an hour on my street alone – famous for the Wonderland murders, Jim Morrison hijinks and Rocker lore. (Attention Matt Stigliano!)

    Then we visit the cemetaries – lots of characters just hanging around taking photos of graves. (I’m sure these characters will also want to take my death Tour.) The Real Estate Sales opportunities there are limited to smaller “vault-size” properties.

    Then we hit Beverly Hills. Alas, we cannot solicit business there because I cannot count in numbers that high without my abacus.

    Then we’ll hit the beaches. No business there unless you’re good at rolling joints. So we can just relax and suck up the breathtaking beauty of California.

    Oh yes – that’s why we’re all here…

    PS Red Bull is a drink with a Mule-size caffeine kick. I’m told it’s tasty, but if I even touch the label, I’ll be awake for days.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    August 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Gwen – The post was great and you always makes me feel like I’m back there again. But, the best part of this whole post is in your comments and maybe not funny to most, but to a former resident of Sherman Oaks right off of Ventura – I can relate:

    Alas, we cannot solicit business there because I cannot count in numbers that high without my abacus.

    When I went looking for houses I could never figure out how to say an address – do I really call it 1 million 250 thousand seventeen? Or am I supposed to just read the numbers one by one: one-two-five-oh-oh-one-seven? Still have trouble with anything over the thousands.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    August 21, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    PS Red Bull also contains Taurine. Next time you’re in the pet food section look at any cat food that is meant for weight loss/balance. Guess what’s a main ingredient? Yep.

  9. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Matt, I feel so much better knowing I am not the only person with Zero Dysfunction. I drop zeros constantly because my brain counts zeros instead of seeing the number as a whole. Well, for that reason… and maybe also because I have three martinis every morning for breakfast. 🙂

  10. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Hmmmm…taurine in Red Bull…that certainly can’t help the problem we have with freeway freak-outs. A doctor told my musician client to lay off the stuff because it was stressing his heart more than his rocker lifestyle does. If it also causes weight loss, then that helps explain the popularity. We certainly can’t have any women running around this town that are big enough to create a shadow. If a starlet hits 100 lbs we perform social and professional euthansia.

  11. Irina Netchaev

    August 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Absolutely hillarious! You made my evening!!!

    Thank you!

    • Nashville Grant

      March 1, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      I second that opinion and am impressed, I’ve never seen an IMDB link in any real estate agent’s social profile before. Makes me want to buy a house from you despite my relative poorness by Cali standards. Plus, I’d get shot for driving a big Hummer out there.

  12. Gwen Banta

    August 21, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you, Irina – have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the laughter!

  13. Mariana

    August 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    BY FAR … the most ENTERTAINING real estate post I have EVER EVER read. I think I love you…

  14. Mike Price

    August 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    “…and I’m giving you the finger too” ROTFLMAO.

  15. Paula Henry

    August 22, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Gwen – You are my absolute favorite writer; I look forward to your world renowned movie, based on your life in real estate.

    Obviously, you would be the star!

  16. Gwen Banta

    August 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I think I love you back, Mariana.

  17. Gwen Banta

    August 22, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Mike, I’m glad you caught that that little play on words. As a reward for your sharp mind, I’ll send you the finger and you can pass it on to anyone who annoys you. We can start a Finger Chain. The last recipient can send it back to me via courier pidgeon.Then we’ll start another chain for annoying folks – this time we’ll them give them the bird. 🙂

  18. Gwen Banta

    August 22, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you, Paula. Quentin Tarantino would have to direct. I’ll probably be cast as one of the weirdest characters in the film. You can be my sidekick – the one who posts my bail and retrieves me from the asylum on weekends. Of course, as co-producers (always demand a credit), I suggest we set up a casting couch for really cute men…

  19. Paula Henry

    August 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Oh the plans we could make for your free weekends. 🙂 Don’t mind her, she’s on a weekend pass.

  20. Sharon deLisser

    August 23, 2009 at 12:46 am

    OMG you are delightful! I loved the article, didn’t want it to end. Hope to hear more from you soon.

  21. Joe Loomer

    August 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Mike beat me to the finger comment – simply amazing. You rock Gwen. I find myself chuckling through the week after you kickin’ posts – the kind of chuckling to yourself that makes other people look at you and move a safe distance away….

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  22. Benn Rosales

    August 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

    lol Gwen, love to read you, you’re what Fridays are all about!

    speed or bleed! I’m using that now!

  23. Gwen Banta

    August 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you, Sharon – you’ll hear more every week, because my brain is warped, and I always forget to take my meds. Thanks for reading!

  24. Gwen Banta

    August 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Joe – I think I write with you in mind – “If Joe would like this, it’s a winner.” However, you can’t blame me if people keep a safe distance from you – you’re as off-center as I am. But aren’t we lucky to enjoy each other’s company on the crazy train?

  25. Gwen Banta

    August 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Yes, Benn – It’s the only way to drive in L.A. We rival Boston and Rome: I think I’ll print up some bumper stickers for our AG family. You can choose from one of the following: “Speed or Bleed,” “Move or Moan,” “Goose it or Lose It,” “Give Way or Pass Away,” or my personal fave, “Keep to the Right or Go Into the Light.”

  26. Benn Rosales

    August 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    ha I’ll take one of each

  27. Kim Curran

    August 28, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    As always Gwen you amuse me. I will not try this at home!!

  28. mike rakoski

    August 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

    ok-where do you find the time to read and write back to these people? Watch out for mariana.

  29. Gwen Banta

    August 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Sorry, Michael – I cannot respond right now – Mariana and I are at the beach having a picnic, right, Mariana? 🙂

  30. maraian

    August 29, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    :: nod nod wink wink
    :: Cheers!

  31. Atlanta Real Estate

    August 31, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    That was awesome!

    You’re very brave. I don’t even tell people I know that I’m a RE Agent, much less run out in public and try what you did! You got the kahones!


  32. Gwen Banta

    August 31, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Hence my desire for a beanbag gun 🙂

  33. Amanda Wernick

    September 18, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    THIS WAS PERFECT! I so want to hang out with you the next time you want to meet people IRL….You cracked me up!

  34. Gwen Banta

    September 18, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Come along for the ride, Amanda – but be sure to wear a helmet!

  35. Jacci

    December 22, 2009 at 3:08 am

    I am glad to say I’ve never been through that. I’ve had so rough days but nothing like that.

  36. Gwen Banta

    December 22, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Well, Jacci – at least my days are never boring!

  37. Gwen Banta

    March 1, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Thank you, Grant – I’ll sell you a house, get you arrested and book you a film…all in one day. However, when you wake up, you may wonder how you got the tattoo that says “AA Prime beef.”

  38. Gwen Banta

    March 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    In a city full of proken promises, two kidneys will be a roll of the dice, Grant…

  39. kellie young

    March 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Thats hilarious!! I’m being a good girl and researching the pros and cons of becoming an agent.. and well, you have definitly made an impression in my book.. i wouldnt be selling in L.A., more like a town in texas, but still wondering if its somthing i would be proud of once i get my license… still not sure tho….

    • Lani Rosales

      March 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      Hey Kellie, you’re not alone in considering becoming an agent! We actually have a writer here at that is going through exactly what you are and you might enjoy reading his journey toward becoming licensed:

      And you’re right, L.A. seems quite crazy, it’s not as colorful here in Texas 😉

  40. Gwen Banta

    March 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    You’ll be VERY proud, Kellie – it’s a great profession. Remember, I am a satarist, so I have a perverse way of looking at things. I run a great business, and I wouldn’t do wnything else…unless it involves George Clooney. Come to L.A. – you’ll have more fun!

  41. Gwen Banta

    March 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Don’t pay any attention to Lani Rosales re: Texas, Kellie – wherever Lani is, THERE IS PLENTY OF COLOR!!!

  42. Ken Brand

    March 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Ummm, Gwen, what’s the deal. Is it true? If you use the word “satirist” as a qualifier, in front of “perverse” , then you’re not really perverse. If that’s true, I’m saved too. Hallelujah.;-)

  43. Gwen Banta

    March 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    EXACTLY, Ken – tha’s like saying “I’m just in a good mood” when you’re drunk, remember?

  44. Ken Brand

    March 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    No? I don’t remember. Remember, I said I think you slipped something into my drink and I woke up memoryless? Besides, I don’t get drunk, I just get happy.

  45. Ken Brand

    March 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    PS. I’m not sure, but, commenting with you may be bathing in the shadow of ill-advised brand management?

  46. Gwen Banta

    March 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    An that’s why I am a satirist and not just “perverse,” Ken – thanks for proving my point!:)

  47. Gwen Banta

    March 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Ken, ANYTHING with me is ill-advised LIFE management!

  48. Ken Brand

    March 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Oh. Now I get it. Good point. I see the spin-doctor difference. Thanks for your patience.

  49. Stephanny Kramer

    June 29, 2010 at 7:39 am

    What a day indeed!

    Liked this post :)There was never a boring line! You rule! 🙂

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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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