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Are you kidding? Are you on drugs? Taking over priced listings?

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Click On this image to watch the video. You'll die laughing, or get angry, or think. Warning: There are a couple of fleeting F-bombs, if you're sensitive, don't watch the video, just read the post. Otherwise, watch the video, then read. Or just watch the video. Click on the image now.


We should avoid overpriced listings at all costs. When our gut, our heart, and our brains tell us it’s a, No-Go situation, we should gracefully bow-out.  I know, it’s hard to decline business, “What if”, right?

The truth is, when a seller insists on overpricing their property, and a usually-rational real estate agent agrees, everyone involved goes down in tangled flames of bitter disappointment. When we concede to the irrational, we aren’t doing any favors for the seller, the market, our families, our colleges, or ourselves.  When we concede to the irrational, we rob our futures.  We waste time, money, energy, and emotion.  Everyone loses, every time.

When You Know It’s A No-Go.  Walk Away.

After you’ve presented your detailed market analysis, and the seller is adamant about pricing their property above your recommendation, walk away.  Be polite, be professional, be firm.  I’d say something like this.

“Thank you for the opportunity.  In my professional opinion, based on research, the data I’ve shared with you, and experience, listing this property for sale, above X-Dollars would be irresponsible.  I feel I’d be doing you a disservice by leading you to believe it was possible to find a buyer who would pay this price, the agent representing them will provide them with the same research, and data, I’ve shared with you.

I respect your desire to list higher, and I wish you the very best.  Thanks for the opportunity to meet with you.  Good luck.  Good by.”

While every situation has unique circumstances, the bottom line is, nobody is served by attempting the irrational, the irresponsible, and the impossible.

How Do You Handle These Situations?

What have you experienced in this area?   It’d be great to hear how you handle(d) it.  If you would be kind enough to share it in the comments, we could all benefit.  We could learn more about how to, educate and council the seller, how to hold our ground and believe in ourselves, and how to gracefully decline over priced listings.  Respectfully.

Thanks for reading.

PS.  About the video.  I was sorta torn about broadcasting the video.  Personally, I laughed to tears.  Because it’s so real.  I’ve been there, I’ve felt it, and seen it, and done it.  Then there’s the language, which some might find offensive, hence the warning below the image.  Anyway, my intention isn’t to criticize, poke fun of, or in anyway disrespect real estate agents, or sellers.  My intention is shine a few shades of light, on a practice that benefits no one.  In fact, it’s a practice that actually harms people, both agents, and sellers.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Fred Romano

    August 23, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Its a great video, I’ve had it posted on my site since it was released in July. I hope the producer makes a followup!

    • Ken Brand

      August 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      It’s a keeper Fred. Thanks.

  2. Sheila Rasak

    August 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I wish there was a place in our code of ethics that addressed this subject! Too often I see the same Realtors taking overpriced listings and I avoid showing their listings (no matter the price point) in assumption that they’ve done it again.

    • Ken Brand

      August 23, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      I hear you, over priced listings happen for lots of different reasons, in the end, and the middle, and at the beginning, nobody wins. Everyone wants it so “bad”, but reality doesn’t cooperate, it punishes. Thanks for your comment:-)

  3. BawldGuy

    August 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    New agents should take this advice and run with it. Follow it verbatim.

    If the sellers are nice people, my last arrow in the quiver is to show them all the like kind props priced how they’d prefer. I then point to the average days on the market, which is almost always triple digits. If that doesn’t do it, I give them the ‘Ken Brand’ speech and gracefully bow out.

    If they’re rude and cynical? I refer them to an agent I think would be a good personality match. It’s often entertaining to observe from afar. 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      August 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks Jeff. And you’re right, a referral to a like-minded agent is sometimes a beautiful thing to behold. 😉

  4. Liz Benitez

    August 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Love the video, shared it on my FB 🙂

    Looking for insight on like subject – I have a listing right now that is priced decent but in no ways to sell quickly. On my first meeting with he clients we toured the house, talked a little about there expectations, and made an appointment to go over the CMA and listing docs. At the time they were adamant that the house be prices were they wanted it. At our second appointment when presented with he CMA they agreed with the list price, how ever they want it sold in two month, now one month away, we have only had 3 showing. They will not budge on the price to make it sale faster. At this point I am ready to let the agreement run its course and move on.

    • Ken Brand

      August 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      I hear you, every situation is different, with it’s own sticky wicket part.

      The thing is, there are many angles of logic, sometime you use a couple, some times a fistful. While the logic, data, and facts, are patently obvious, we’re sharing this information with people who fully invested in the emotional blender of moving, fears, inconvenience, lost equity, etc. The better we present the information, the more often we’ll succeed. Sometimes, the emotional density overwhelms the dead-bang logical. Nothing you can do about it. You do your best, fight to keep it, if they don’t relist, you move on, no regrets

  5. Anthony Rueda

    August 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I have a different perspective on how to handle a seller who initially refuses to lower their asking price. Have you ever had a listing where the seller refuses to drop his price and your listing expires, then you see another agent list and sell it for a lower price? How did that agent convince the seller to drop his price? For some sellers, it’s difficult to convince in an hour or two (during a listing presentation) to drop their price. Some sellers just need to be shown and not told. If you reject the listing, you’ve lost your opportunity. If you accept the listing, you have until the listing agreement expires to improve your communication skills with difficult clients. How can you improve your communication skills with difficult clients if you avoid working with them?

    • Ken Brand

      August 23, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      Great points Anthony. The short blog post can’t really dive into some the interesting circumstances the swirl around the CMA discussion, and over priced listings. For the circumstance you describe, and we’ve been on both sides, the victim, and the beneficiary, the SWAG (sophisticated wild ass guess) method would come into play. Specifically, If I believe that the seller was motivated enough, as in, I know they have to sell because she’s been transfered to China, and they agreed to listing period long enough, and I liked them enough, and I thought they would eventually reduce the price to salable figure, then I would take the listing. I would be making a calculated risk. If they got bored, and began to blame me, then fired me, and relisted with another, then it would have been a bad call for me. Or it it turns out they are loud, and persistant whiners, and they complain about me to their friends, the I would regret the time, and energy I’m investing for the commission, that would be bad call too. And so on. You only know if you made the right decision when it’s all over.

      So, you’re right, in certain circumstances, taking an initially over priced listing, might work out. Bu,t most every other over priced listing circumstance, run like the wind

  6. Alex Cortez

    August 24, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Sure, nobody likes to see overpriced listings on the market, but in reality these listings help sell the ones that are priced accordingly by being on the high end of the measuring stick. By the wayn sweet video, I hadn’t laughed that hard in a while.

    • Ken Brand

      August 24, 2010 at 7:05 am

      Alex – For sure the over priced listing is a silver linning benefit for the competitively price. It’s hard for the over priced listing agent, and seller to get a clue, when their property is show frequently, as you’ve described, agents are including the over priced listings in their showings to demonstrate contrast. Good call. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Scott Harris

    August 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

    That was so funny.

    I did something similar a few months ago to attempt to motivate (shame) a local contractor / friend / buyer to get started with social media plus doing a few other things on line to promote his business such as Google maps. He’s a great guy, but he says his phone doesn’t ring anymore and he wonders why no one looks him up in the yellow pages these days. He also once complained that his residential tenants don’t even take the yellow pages inside their apartments anymore, but instead leave them by the entrance gate.

    youtube.com/watch?v=qcOQY8AxVj8

    Now true, he’s bought a bunch of properties from me and I work real close with him to solve problems, but he’s way too reliant on me when it comes to anything regarding computers. He prefers to keep it pre-1962 or so. I share many of his hobbies including the old cars, but I like to move everyone forward a bit and show them that there is life after 1962. We’d gone around and around for months about his marketing so I put this one together thinking maybe some famous people could tell him the same thing I had been telling him. I won.

    • Ken Brand

      August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      That’s the crazy thing these days Scott. There are new ways to open eyes, wake the dead, and drag zombies into the 2010s. Cheers to your creativity, everyone wins.

  8. Joe Loomer

    August 24, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Laughed pretty hard at the video, Ken!

    Scripts and dialogues help, nothing trumps market data, and Jeff’s recommendation is spot-on – take them to see homes at the price point they wish to be at and point out the differences in their property with those comparables.

    What I didn’t hear is any talk of adressing the appraisal issues in the unlikely event you actually get that “buyer from Pluto.”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Ken Brand

      August 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      Yep, yep, and more yep, until those dumb ass Pluto buyers show up. Cheers Joe.

  9. Stacie Wells

    August 24, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Wow. Brilliant, as usual 🙂 Where was this script when I needed it last month?

    1) Seller thinks their house is a gold mine and could care less about market statistics
    2) They interview a 2nd agent who tells them it’s worth way more than the outrageous amount that they think it’s worth.
    3) When it doesn’t sell, it’s the agent’s fault because they’re not “working hard enough”.

    Really?? The only thing that the agent should be faulted with is taking the overpriced listing. I’ve always said that the very best and most important piece of marketing is pricing it right. No sense in telling millions of people how over-priced it is, right? 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      August 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      Yeah, it’s sort of a jungle out there. If it sells fast, you underpriced it, if it never sells, it has nothing to do with the price, it’s because you suck. Back in the day, I sold new homes, when sales were slow, the mangers told us we were weak, it was our fault, we didn’t know how to sell. When sales boomed, we were luck, the houses were so magnificent, they sold them on their own, we were order takers. In the long wrong, I guess that’s why we make the medium money. Cheers. Stacie.

  10. Diana Hoyt

    August 25, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I laughed so hard and am not sure if it was because it was so funny or that there was so much truth in it! Both I suspect. That said, I would LOVE to post this on my FaceBook and on Twitter but again, the language is prohibiting me from doing so. The “F” word and the “retard” remarks are not appropriate, but your message is PERFECT for sellers to see and for all agents to consider. Is it possible for you to remake this without the offensive language? You have a great talent here and I would love to use it! Thanks for making my day a bit better!

    • Ken Brand

      August 25, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      I did the same the same. Sadly, I can’t take credit for the video. I had the same issue with language, but I wanted to post share, so I wrote a blog post around it, to sorta soften it up. The things is without the language, it’s lose some of its hammer. Thanks for commenting. Cheers.

  11. Tim Domanski

    August 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

    One of the things that my partner and I do to help avoid this is to not ask the seller what they are looking to get as a sale price. We present the market data and offer our opinion. We find it is easier for the seller to agree with our price opinion when they don’t have to try to save face because they offered a higher number as opposed to them giving us their number, which they try to defend.

    • Ken Brand

      August 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

      Smart advice Tim, like you’ve shared, once someone takes a position, it’s a challenge to get them to change their mind, or admit they were wrong. Good point.

  12. white bear lake mn homes for sale

    August 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I also like the approach of “working with the seller” at the start to target what they want for sales price. Then I’ll tell them how close we can come to that after I do a quantitative CMA. By including them in the systematic, and data-driven process of pricing their home, I found it to be much easier reach an agreeable listing price. Great post!

    • Ken Brand

      August 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

      Thanks. Keys to success = make the discussion conversational, non confrontational, reassuring body language (relaxed and friendly vs tense and tight), tone of voice, and of course, if we’ve really done our homework, confidence. Cheers and good luck out there.

  13. Naples Real Estate

    August 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    The video is both hilarious and sadly true. IMHO, when dealing with emotional/ignorant people in this industry it is essential to take a stand, control the situation, and not let yourself get sucked into one of these situations no matter how tough the times are. Great post.

  14. Janie Coffey

    August 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Man Ken YOU ARE The MAN! This reminds me of your post several months ago about fix it or kick it to the curb. So 100% right on target! I love your posts!

  15. Nick Nymark

    September 10, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Great Article, I like the response in the grey box above under “When You Know It’s A No-Go. Walk Away.”

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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?

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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

Uh oh… User-generated content hikes your business insurance rate

(MARKETING) User-generated content is a tremendous marketing tool brands should consider, but it does increase your liability, thus your insurance rates, so choose wisely.

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The use of “influencers” on social media and the sharing of user-generated content (UGC) isn’t a new thing in social media marketing. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to generate excitement and curiosity about your brand. The best reviews are always those from real users, and the best advertising is the one you didn’t have to create: those are social media marketing golden rules.

The implementation of user-generated content however, is rife with some potential troubles, especially when added to your own website. A lot of businesses can operate under the idea that the average social media user is okay with the sharing of their content. While some of them will be, you run the risk of crossing an invisible line with someone who then generates negative press about you and/or your company. And of course, there is always the possibility of litigation.

It’s in your best interest to be above board on user-generated content and it always begins with the first step – asking for permission. How you ask for permission depends on the medium, but be sure to get a DM, email, tweet, or something that clearly shows the content creator giving you the right to use that image (and document that permission in a way that you can locate it in the far future). This prevents you from getting into a whole lot of trouble, and allows you to use user generated content most effectively.

Pro tip: If you’re going to be working with the same brand ambassador or influencer, make sure any contracts or agreements you have include a waiver that allows you to repurpose content they create that impacts your brand.

This is an easy thing to do, and it will help protect the integrity of your brand and your online presence – make sure it’s part of your social media strategy.

But it should be noted that there are merits to only using content that you create yourself – it’s more secure, more controlled, and it typically decrease the cost of your business insurance as it’s less risky. Because a lot of brands don’t ask for permission, UGC takes on some risk and skyrockets insurance rates.

The decision to use UGC should be a smart one, and if you do decide to use it, just follow the golden rules: ask nicely and keep a paper trail.

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Business Marketing

How to tell if your SEO campaign is actually working

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Search Engine Optimization is more complex today than it ever has been, and whether doing it yourself or hiring a pro, you need to know if your SEO is on track. Here’s how.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex strategy, and one where there’s rarely a single “right” answer to any question. Your rankings are a the result of hundreds, if not thousands of interacting factors, and Google doesn’t disclose exactly how their algorithm works (though we have some good guesses based on its algorithm update history).

Measuring the results of your SEO campaign can also be challenging, especially for newcomers to the online marketing field. How are you supposed to determine whether your SEO campaign is actually working? And what do you do if it isn’t?

Before we get into how to tell if an SEO campaign is working, it’s important to define what “working” means for you. SEO serves many purposes for your organization; ranking higher can increase your brand visibility and your incoming traffic. But are you more worried about the sheer number of visitors you’re getting, or which pages are ranked number one? Is it better for your company to have 100 visitors with a 5 percent conversion rate or 200 visitors with a 2.5 percent conversion rate? There aren’t objective right answers to these questions—only what’s right for your brand.

You should also consider the peripheral effects that SEO can have. For example, most companies that pursue SEO invest heavily in their onsite content strategy, which can improve their brand reputation and help secure more conversions. How do these peripheral benefits factor into your judgement of your SEO strategy’s success?
We’ll get into the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) in the next couple of sections, but before that, take some time to clarify what your SEO goals truly are.

Typical KPIs for SEO – is your campaign working?

Let’s say you’ve been working on an SEO campaign for a few weeks now, and you’re interested to see if your efforts are making a difference. You’ve been producing onsite content, you’ve got your website’s technical SEO factors in order, and you’ve been building backlinks just as all the experts suggested.

What now?

There are a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs) that stand out as hallmarks of an effective SEO campaign overall:

1. Rankings. This is the most obvious factor, and the one most SEO newcomers gravitate toward, but it isn’t the be-all end-all measure of success for your campaign. “Rankings” are how the various pages of your site rank for your target keywords and phrases; typically, you’ll keep a list of all the words and phrases you’re actively targeting, and will use a tool like SEMRush to determine where you’re ranking (and where your competitors are ranking). Obviously, upward trajectory here is a good sign; if you’re ranking higher for all your targets, month after month, it means you’re making forward progress, and your tactics are making an impact.

However, these expectations should be tempered; some keywords are incredibly easy to rank for, allowing you to skyrocket to the number one position, without giving you much traffic or being especially relevant to your brand. The reverse is also true; you may spend a ton of effort increasing your rank only slightly for a highly competitive keyword, seeing only marginal bottom-line benefits from your efforts.

2. Organic traffic. Rankings are perhaps best held in consideration in the context of organic traffic, or the number of people who visit your site after discovering it in search engines. In some ways, this is the truer indicator of SEO success; regardless of how many keyword terms you’re ranking for, or how high in the rankings you climb, this number could be high or low depending on factors like click-through rates (CTRs), search volume, and your competition. You can find your organic traffic figures in Google Analytics, and tinker with the settings to see your traffic both for your entire domain and for individual pages of your site.

3. Domain and page authority. Google measures the trustworthiness of your site and its individual pages based on the quantity and quality of links pointing to them, eventually resulting in an “authority” score. The higher your domain authority, the easier it will be for all the pages of your site to rank. The higher your individual page’s authority, the more likely that page is to rank. Accordingly, you could use domain authority as an indicator of your campaign progress; a domain authority that’s growing is a sign you’re doing things right and a foundation on which you can create pages that rank more easily. There are a few ways to discover your domain and page-level authority, including through Moz’s Link Explorer.

There are a few other SEO-related metrics that warrant your attention, though they aren’t as direct an indicator of your progress as the aforementioned KPIs.

1. Referral traffic. Also discoverable in Google Analytics, if you’re big into link building, you’ll want to look at referral traffic. Referral traffic is a measure of how many people are visiting your pages from the links you’ve built. This metric doesn’t affect your search engine rankings, nor is it a byproduct of them, but it is a byproduct of one of the most important elements of your SEO strategy: your backlinks. Rising referral traffic is an indication that you’re getting published in bigger and more important publishers, and that you’re earning more authority for your work. Referral traffic is also a secondary way SEO provides value to your brand, since these visitors are as likely to convert as your organic traffic.

2. Click-through rates (CTRs). What happens if you’re ranking at number one for your most heavily favored keyword phrase, yet nobody’s visiting your site? This scenario is unlikely, but you might be getting less traffic from your rankings than you expect if your click-through rates (CTRs) are low. CTRs have a complex relationship with SEO, affecting it and being affected by it, but you can definitely improve your CTRs (and therefore improve the value of each search ranking) by tweaking your title tags and meta descriptions to better appeal to your target audience.

3. Onsite behavior and conversion rates. Even with tons of organic traffic, the value of your SEO strategy still depends on your ability to convert that traffic. Spend time studying how your incoming organic visitors behave on your site. Do they spend minutes on your best content pages, reading it and engaging with it? Or do they bounce almost immediately? Better onsite behavioral metrics, like lower bounce rates, may have a marginal effect on your search rankings, but more importantly, they impact the net value of each incoming visitor. If you neglect these factors, even thousands of organic visitors may not be enough to make your search optimization efforts “worth it.”

4. Overall return on investment (ROI). Adding to that, for most businesses, the true measure of an SEO campaign’s success is your return on investment, or ROI. That’s because all the nice-looking numbers in the world (like high rankings and organic traffic) won’t mean much if you’re spending more money than you’re seeing from your core tactics. If you’re earning more in new sales than you’re spending on all your tactics, and that gap keeps positively widening, you’ll be in a good place. Use your conversion rates in combination with your organic and referral traffic to estimate how much value you’re getting, and compare that to your expenses. Expenses are easy to calculate if you’re outsourcing your work to an agency, but you may have to get creative if you’re working with an internal team.

Why SEO takes time (and why not to bail out too early):

There’s one important caveat to all these considerations. Up until now, we’ve been covering key metrics and indicators that your SEO campaign is working; if they’re showing signs of growth, it means your efforts are worthwhile. However, SEO is a campaign that necessarily takes time, which means you may not see positive results in these areas in the first few months even if you’re doing all the right things. In fact, the majority of campaigns only start seeing the fruits of their labor after 3 to 6 months.
Building authority and developing onsite content often takes months, and you’ll have to wait for Google’s index to fully catch up to you as well.

More importantly, the rewards of an SEO strategy in its developed stages are much richer than the rewards in its developing stages; at a higher level of authority, all your links and pages will generate more traffic, and you’ll get more value for even trivial efforts, like writing a new offsite post (assuming you’re doing everything correctly). If you’re not growing quickly, do analyze and critique your own efforts, but don’t panic; if you bail out of your campaign too early, you’ll miss out on the best benefits.

Don’t be discouraged if you find that your SEO campaign isn’t working, or isn’t working the way you thought it would; in fact, this is to be expected. SEO is both an art and a science; the most successful practitioners aren’t able to launch a perfect campaign from day one, but instead are the ones able to recognize flaws and make corrections where necessary.

Diagnose your campaign early and consistently, at least once a month, and make adjustments so you’re always moving in the right direction.

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