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SPAM & Ham - Fine Lines of Online Marketing

By Phil Butler | February 20, 2011

If you are reading this you get SPAM, and likely a ton of it, every day. For those who have been on the Web for a time, you know too that there is a fine line between decent marketing outreach & outright aggravation. And, as real estate professionals, never before has knowing the difference meant so much.

Chuck from Pittsburg, Kansas

Chuck here retired after a windfall from commercial property in Pittsburg

How many experts have to preach the conversational Web over Web 1.0 for Realtors to listen? Here is a little story that will help - hopefully. There's a gulf between SPAM & Honey Baked Ham you know?

Tyler Casey seems like a nice kid. Without getting too personal here, let's just say he is a young real estate professional with some drive and initiative. Case works for Jim Bishop & Associates Coldwell Banker in Pittsburg, Kansas, as well as venturing out with Casey-Bird Properties LLC, and his own Tyler Casey Realtor aspect.

Real Estate bad name

And you wonder why Realtors have a bad rep?

And, unlike so many real estate professionals these days, Casey is wired into the WWW. But a shadow hovers over him - a dark an ominous specter - the disease of unrefined SPAM pitch marketing. Of course my good friend Brian Solis would call Tyler's variant Tofu or Bacon rather than SPAM, because this writer "liked" Tyler's Pittsburg Real Estate Facebook pages - but my term for ugly unsolicited BS is SPAM - sorry Brian, if you find yourself justifying BS, that usually means you are the accused.

I am not going to be kind to Tyler, tough love dictates the times. At Kansas City's Pittsburg State University, someone dropped the ball training would be PR and Communications professionals like Casey, who graduated last year. The suggested course list for a BS in Communications does not appear loaded with digital awareness classes, maybe the culprit is this? The school's marketing and online footprints can be gleaned from scanning their texts, or even observing their landing - another nice kid testimonial or "Be All You Can Be" pitch seems symbolic for me.

College landing page testimonial

Pittsburg State University - Sending out professionals from Kansas

About now Tyler, and a bunch of the rest of you reading this are probably saying; "Jeez, what did the kid do to deserve this?" Well, I am going to tell you, obviously. Tyler's SPAM mail via Facebook to the members of "Pittsburg Real Estate" betrayed his obvious skill, his University, the broker he works for, prospective clients, but maybe most importantly every real estate professional.

Wow, he did all that, you say? The message you see below is not the worst BS SPAM attack I ever received, but it is blatant coming from an apparently gifted young professional. Using Facebook groups for such is not anywhere near professional in my view. Sure, everyone has a message to get out, but refined is the key to appropriateness too.

Do you have a savings account at a bank paying .25% ? How about a CD paying 1.5% ? Maybe an annuity yielding you 3% with the principal riding on the stock market? Casey-Bird Properties LLC is going to blow what your bank or financial advisor can offer out of the water! Right now for a LIMITED TIME we will pay you 10% yield on your $$$$! Right now is one of the best times in history to invest in real estate! What we are trying to do is allow everyone to have exposure to this amazing opportunity WITHOUT HAVING TO FIX TOILETS! We will take care of ALL THE DIRTY WORK! All that you have to do is sit back and COLLECT YOUR CHECKS! We are just a couple of local boys trying to grow our business. Our company is in a solid financial situation, with an excellent base of assets/equity already. We plan on being here for the long haul and helping the entire area to prosper along with us.

CALL US TODAY @ (620) 249-5767


Whether or not the message above is true or not is a matter for another discussion. The problems with this sort of outreach are numerous. Let's begin with worst cases,shall we? According to this FTC Policy Statement on Deception, legislators and the judicial circuit are as I type this wrestling with just what is appropriate and inappropriate (even legal) by way of such communications. I quote from the Honorable Judge John D. Dingell's text:

"The Commission has also found deception where a sales representative misrepresented the purpose of the initial contact with customers. When a product is sold, there is an implied representation that the product is fit for the purposes for which it is sold. When it is not, deception occurs."

Spam versus Honey Baked

Gimme the Honey Baked Facebook mails please!

In a worse case, Tyler Casey and/or his associates or superiors could get a cease and desists order from the FTC, be monitored continually, ordered to put up corrective advertising, and ultimately fined up to $16,000 per day if these ads or marketing are deemed inappropriate. Sure, this is the extreme, but I said "worse case" didn't I?

Of course complaints to Facebook and the like could result in termination due to TOS infringement, and in a best case someone who cares might scold the offender in a media article. Below is a Hollywood image from one of Tyler's 5 puppy dog listings Jim Bishop & Associates saw fit to saddle him with. From the looks of the listing below, Tyler needs to get out the liquid plummer.

There's no place like Kansas

Click your heels Dorothy - Pittsburg Kansas here we come

Without riding back and forth over the carcass of poor Tyler Casey, the FTC has clearly laid (PDF) out some general rules and guidelines that should apply to endorsements and such outreach. Tyler and his associates are probably going to pay each and every janitor who scrapes up a $1,000 to give them fully 10% interest - at some point, the pigeon has to call to find out the details. I've a good mind to do so, but this is not my purpose. The point for Tyler Casey should be clear - so let me spell it out.

  • Your message is course and "SPAMish"
  • Alluding to toilets and commodes can backfire
  • know who your Facebook and other social peeps are (evidenced herein)
  • Ask and thou shalt receive - utilize your network - don't USE it
  • Give links to more details at the very least - CALL ME is not credible
  • If you have proof you can give 10% - show it - otherwise....
  • Don't let desperation or your enthusiasm rule the day - it's about intent and peeps see this

Pittsburg Real Estate on Facebook has 229 members. The worst thing Tyler has done in sending out this pork skin of an outreach has been to pollute a very targeted marketable niche. Pittsburg, Kansas is a metropolis of about 20,000 peeps. Anyone taking the time to join a Facebook group like this will be very interested in what goes on. And then a used car sales pitch comes crashing through the living room window! A better message from Pittsburg - actually a stunningly charming community with vibrant and fun people like those shown below - would be just to show off this part of Kansas.

Pittsburg peeps having fun

Angie & Seth at Pittsburg High School, living - courtesy the great shots of Dave Malkoff

To help Pittsburg, Kansas along its path to snobbish property investment glory, RealtyBizNews offers up the towns second biggest claim to fame - the Battle of Chicken Annies Vs. Chicken Mary's - a veritable fried chicken Armageddon. And a last note for Tyler. I know this roasting seems unsolicited and unfair Tyler.

Who knows, for some, maybe it is. But, I do know one things for an absolute certainty - it is the way we emerge from criticism that defines success. You have a bright future - or a dull one - it's up to you alone. And you can take solace in the fact my message was not meant solely for you. Send us some Honey Baked Ham next time.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
  • 2 comments on “SPAM & Ham - Fine Lines of Online Marketing”

    1. My Dear, the broadcasting on his account has continuity with this mad marketer blast sent to Facebook peeps too. Everything is patterned actually, except that the guy appears excellent in all other categories.

      I knew you would be the first to defend here too, I too felt a bit badly having to "cut the grass here" at his expense. But can you remember a time when even we have been so chastized? I bet you can.

      The web's high and mighty have threatened to unleash their hordes on either of us over the years. And some have. We learn. I hope this young man refines his message, or at least figures out who he is sending it to.

      Your editor and husband,

    2. His facebook profile says that he studies communications and public relations. Perhaps the spam message was sent by someone else? His account was hacked? Huh? Huh? Looking forward for his response, if any. But, on the other hand, it takes a grownup to admit a mistake, and even more than a grownup to learn from it.

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