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Communications Breakdown

generation y

Let me first get all of the pleasantries aside: I have enjoyed AgentGenius for some time and it was an exciting pleasure to be invited to be a contributor for the site. You can see my info on the G-Spot, but to summarize, I teach marketing, technology and generational marketing classes to Realtors in Oregon for Chicago Title of Oregon.

Along with marketing and technology, I happen to know quite a bit about Generation Y (which has caused quite a stir around here before). As my Twitter profile says “I am the poster child for generation Y”. I’ll provide more of my slightly different take on my generation later on, but today I want to focus on methods of communication.

In one day, I heard both of these: “Email isn’t my preferred method of contact, so if you didn’t provide a phone number, I may not get back to you” and “If you email me, how soon should I call you back?”

All of these people potentially lost my business. And most other Generation Y people I know.

on their terms

People in Generation Y want to contact you on their terms. It’s why they belong to multiple social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, to name a few. If they want to email you, email them back. If they want to chat online with you, chat back. If they want to poke you, poke back. (I still feel odd about poking people).

Some people may link this to our supposed sense of entitlement. It’s not that, we just value our time more than anything else. Twitter and Google Talk are the most efficient ways for me to keep in touch with my friends, so I use them. Chatting on the phone and driving to meet people are not efficient most of the time, so I avoid them.

easier to convert

I’m not a big fan of Facebook. But I have an account. And a few old friends have found me through the site. They could be potential customers. Friends are easier to convert than strangers.

What it comes down to is being accessible. You have an office so people can visit you. You have a phone so people can call you. You have email so people can email you. Now you need to start considering the new technologies like social networks. You need to at least exist so people can get in touch.

Next time I’ll be covering how to kill two birds with one stone through email marketing.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Andy Kaufman

    February 12, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Nick- I totally agree. By participating in social networks and providing value to those I’m connected to, I’m pre-qualifying myself for the job and making myself asynchronously available 24-7.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have to say about email marketing.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    February 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Good start at AG. I’m a big fan of Skype, and not a big fan of “professionals” who don’t use the most basic of tools. As a consumer, I would never work with someone who started off in their VM by telling me that wouldn’t communicate with me by my preferred method of contact or that they don’t use a communications median that is has been so widely embraced over a decade!

  3. Ines

    February 12, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I think I was born in the wrong generation – is there such a thing as generationally confused?

  4. Jeff Brown

    February 12, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Certainly, each ‘generation’ can decide on their own how they wish to conduct business.

    I find the need to continuously deny/defend GenX/Y’s behavior as ‘not one of entitlement’ the common thread seeming to run through these posts. 🙂

    Though I’ve not yet embraced social networking like a crazed hormonally driven teenager yet, I don’t doubt its efficacy. That said, I wonder when or rather if a 27 year old stumbled on a ‘top 5%’ type real estate professional, what their behavior would be. Would they dictate the agent’s behavior, or would they choose to benefit from the outrageous expertise into which they’d stumbled?

    “The agent doesn’t even twitter! That’s it — I’m outa here!”

    I suspect these young people are a lot smarter than folks give them credit for — at least that’s been my experience. Sure, they’re into the newest and the fastest. I get it. 🙂 They’re also into obtaining results. And results sometimes comes packaged differently than they’d prefer.

    Am I off base here? Thanks

  5. Nick

    February 13, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Jeff, you bring up some excellent points.

    I too am not totally into social networks like some people I know. I hate MySpace, I check my Facebook only when I am emailed friend requests, I like LinkedIn but sometimes don’t really know why, I love Twitter because I get to chat with this community but it seems like it’s always down and there are a few others I belong to, but don’t live in.

    Like I said, people just need to exist on at least some of these networks. I have the opportunity to work with that “top 5%” and many of them are near retirement. They understand that their business is slowing to a degree and want in on the new trends like blogging and social networks, but would rather just buy in if possible.

    I’m still going to base my Realtor decision on the relationship and expertise, but (especially if I’m relocating) I’m probably going to find the person through these online methods.

  6. Jeff Brown

    February 13, 2008 at 1:05 am

    I’ve found many of my team members in the different regions I do business via the web. So far I haven’t made use of social networking.

    Now you’ve done it. I’m gonna be asking everyone I talk to now if they’re doing what you suggest.


  7. Inspirion Inc

    March 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    As an expert in intergenerational communication, Misti Burmeister has worked with top Fortune 500 companies, military leaders and national associations to motivate and inspire their staff to work together, beyond their generational differences. As an experienced coach with clients ranging from young teenagers to top executives, Misti has opened doors of life changing transformation. Misti would like to share her insight to your audience and shed light to the questions and concerns individuals have about parents, children, seasoned bosses, young new hires and more

    CEO of Inspirion Inc. Ms. Burmeister has recently published her latest book “From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations,” a book written on the topic of four diverse generations and the communication barriers they come across at work and at home. This book is an essential guide to overcoming the preconceived notions we have about other generations and open doors to happy and healthy relationships.

    For more information please email

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Business Marketing

Audio branding: Is this the next big boost in brand recognition?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Brands have invested heavily in audio branding in 2021, here’s how that is changing up the branding rankings for businesses.



Person at audio mixing table, preparing audio branding

Media consumption and engagement with brands across digital platforms is increasing, according to sonic branding agency amp; and companies investing in audio branding are creating a significant competitive advantage. The Best Audio Brands (BAB) index created by amp uses 5 key criteria to measure audio investment performance: Customer recognition, customer trust, customer experience, customer engagement and customer belonging. The agency claims that companies investing in high quality audio assets for their brands have gained ground by establishing a recognizable audio identity.

Michele Arenese, amp CEO said, “Making a brand heard is more important than ever before. The past 18 months have accelerated the importance of sound and voice as vital elements of the brand identity and customer experience toolbox. Meaningful and purposeful brand communication takes advantage from a ownable and authentic sound ecosystem.”

For the second consecutive year, Mastercard ranked highly across all key criteria measured by the BAB and topped the list. Other brands that fared well on this year’s index were Netflix, which moved up 27 places by using it’s famous “ta-dum” more widely and Coca-Cola which collaborated with Tyler the Creator and invested more in bespoke music. In addition, 5 new brands to make the top 10 this year were Audi, Mercedes, Netflix, Hyundai and Siemens. The highest climbing brands were in the financial sector: HSBC, American Express and J.P. Morgan. The highest climbing sector, however, was beverages followed by automotive. Brands that dropped in the rankings this year were Google, Amazon, Colgate, Goldman Sachs, and Danone.

Björn Thorleifsson, Head of Strategy & Research, amp said: “This year has shown that those who were already embarking on their sonic branding journeys have increased their lead on trailing rivals – now clearly falling behind. Given the evolving ability of sound to reach consumers whatever the device or channel they’re on, we expect to see increased investment from brands looking to stand out amongst the online noise. There are already best practice examples from leaders, such as Mastercard, and we’d encourage those who want to improve brand recognition and even performance, to adopt a little less conversation on sonic branding, and a little more action.”

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Business Marketing

Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.



Man working in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”

Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.

Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.

Four-Day Workweek Trials

In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.

“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.

Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.

With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.

“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”

Trial Results

Company Productivity
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.

However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.

The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.

Employee Well-Being
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.

What’s in store for 2021?

Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.

“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.

The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.

For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.

Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.

If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.

But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.

“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.



Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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