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Real estate marketing wake up call from outside of the industry

Take a Realtor by the scruff and holler in its face and what do you get? A better industry. Genius.



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Finally, another voice of reason

For years, we’ve written on the intersection between real estate and digital marketing, pointing out what to us is obviously poor practices with social media, most specifically. We’ve begged people to not just put social media icons on print ads, but to physically instruct ad recipients where to go, and we’ve noted poor uses of QR codes and noted that they may be a passing fad, especially when most QR codes go nowhere special and are not even pointed to mobile-ready sites in most cases.

Sound familiar? Our regular readers will say yes.

The above video is by Scott Stratten of who is well known for his willingness to shake people by the collar. Stratten isn’t a Realtor, and the above video is as kind as it possibly can be, given the atrocities committed by Realtors feigning expertise in marketing. What we appreciate most is that Stratten echoes what we’ve been saying for years, including the reminder that most Realtors don’t even have to market well, they just have to market properly and they’re miles ahead of most in the industry.

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  1. Linsey Planeta

    September 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Just when I think the message has been made clear about the social media faux pas of blasting your listings to the four corners of the social media universe, I'm invited to an Open House in some random part of the country. Why this seems to be such a tough message to get out is beyond me. But, hopefully Scott's impassioned outcry to the real estate community will be heard. Honestly, I'll admit I laughed out loud, but I know I shouldn't. It's sad more than anything.

    • Lani Rosales

      September 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      Totally, Linsey. Can you imagine if you got a postcard designed by and paid for by a Realtor that invited you to an open house in Florida? Why, people!?!? You're right, it's more sad and counterintuitive than anything.

  2. Emmanuel

    September 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    AMEN!!!! Well done! Well Said!

  3. Cliff Stevenson

    September 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    This won't change much, although I love the passionate plea. Agents everywhere (not all) look at social media as a megaphone, or a billboard. Much like Linsey, I live in Calgary, AB, and I receive open house invitations on Facebook for California. Blows my mind.

    I use QR codes (sparingly, and to mobile sites only), and I get scans (which I track), but I'm not sure how long I'll be continuing with them. My pet peeve with QR codes is that agents are using these things on websites. Uhh….websites. Why, if I'm sitting in front of my 27" iMac, do I want to instantly transfer my browsing session to your remarkable site on my 2" iPhone screen??

    I'm not saying everything I'm doing is the way to do it… all. It does, however, work for me.

  4. Daniel Bacon

    September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Absolutely. Scott is correct that these, well, mistakes, incorrect usage, whatever you want to call it, represent a huge opportunity for many of us. I do feel bad that 80-90% of Realtors (my estimate, mileage in your area may vary) will never be able to catch up or compete effectively in the coming years, at least in the online side. But that's life and it's survival out here!

  5. Ken Montville

    September 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I, personally, think that QR codes … look!. squirrel!

    Where was I? Oh yeah. I was walking by a yard sign once that had a QR code that took me to a virtual tour of the house. Kinda useful except that most people drive by yard signs. (Of course, I was was walking by because I was at a party across the street)

    Now, here is the curmudgeon coming out…Scott just spent 6 minutes telling us what NOT to do. OK. Fine.

    What works?!?! (My seminar for $600, My book for $19.95, My CD/DVD set for $199.95) Yeah. I'm cynical.

    Big, hairy asterisk. I don't have a seminar, book or CD/DVD set. That's just an example.

    • Scott Stratten

      September 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for the comments. If you noticed, while I saying what not to do I was also saying what to do.

      1. Make your site mobile friendly
      2. Have your QR code lead to a mobile landing page
      3. Put your social media addresses with the logo
      4. Be social in social media.

      I don't have a course for real-estate agents. Really couldn't care less if anybody bought my book because of it, I make 80 cents a copy 🙂

      It was a plea from a member of the public, her market, on what to do differently.

  6. Barry Cunningham

    September 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    2 things about this…most realtors will ignore because they either don't know how to market…or b…most realtors won't change because they are too lazy to learn how to do things the right way. Same story, just a different year. Had this argument years ago. Nothing changes. Quite a shame. Makes you want to scream.

    And per Ken, underscoring my comment, Scott knows how to market. He learned how and if he is charging a fee, then it's because he knows something that you don't. Cynical? I think he just showed he's the real deal.

  7. Molly

    September 2, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Love it. I am sending this out to the agent population this morning for our company. I am always frustrated at people who only get on facebook to pimp their latest listing, no matter HOW many times I tell them it doesn't really work. My most favorite is to the effect of " Hey friends, check out NEW PLACE TO EAT, I got them the lease." WTH, really?

    SO don't eat there because it is good food, eat there because I GOT THEM THE LOCATION.


  8. Liz Benitez

    September 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I like him 🙂

  9. Matthew Hardy

    September 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, it's clear that the Realtor highlighted in the video is effing-up big time.

    I can't imagine where she got the money to run a full-page ad. 😉

  10. Rebecca

    September 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    This is awesome! I'm speaking about communication strategy to a group of Realtors in a couple of weeks, and am happy to find Scott delivers messages consistent with mine. I did have a slide with the message, "It's Social, Stupid" to illustrate that social media is, you know, social. But, I took it out because I was worried I'd offend. However, the fact is, I'm offended every time I talk to someone about social media being about making connections and creating dialogue, and they then ask me how to set up a Twitter account so they can push out information. So, all this being the case, the slide is back in the deck. Thanks for the inspiration, Scott!

  11. Jon Sigler

    September 7, 2011 at 8:20 am

    This is an excellent video. Be better than the other agent, it isn't hard.

  12. Charlie Dresen

    September 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    This is perfect, timely and spot on.

  13. Jonathan Benya

    September 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Awesome Video. I know so many agents like the one mentioned, and they seriously need to stop it. They make kittens cry.

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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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