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Why we need to BE like Kick-Ass iPhone App Creators

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Passionate people – those iPhone App developers.  After they create and share their magical App with the world, they don’t sit on their asses admiring their handiwork.  Or take vacation. Hell no.

Raise Your Hand If You Love Presents

They guzzle even more Mountain Dew, scarf more Skittles and back to work they go.  Like snarling rabid dogs, they attack the task of finishing their next even-cooler version.  They fix the glitches, simplify and sweeten-up everything they can.  It’s a race to impress, Velcro connect, delight and create a culture of equally rabid fans.  It’s a never ending cycle of refinement and innovation.

For us customers, it’s Presents every day.  I smile every time I download one. Don’t you love it?

It’s becoming a minimum expectation.  We’re beginning to expect frequent and free upgrades and enhancements.  And not just with iPhone apps either.  We expect the same special treatment from all product and service providers and experience creators.  When a personal or business product or service is slow to improve (upgrade and enhance) we begin to think them dull and replace them with something sexier.  It’s natural human behavior.

What Does This Have To With Real Estate Agents?

I was thinking, hey, I’m in the real estate business and I’m a service provider and experience creator. How often do I roll out this-is-an-even-cooler-version of what I was offering and sharing before?  Or, do I mostly roll with the  tired tried and true?

If our clients are culture is becoming conditioned to expect Presents and I don’t have any to give, and others do, what will happen to me and my real estate business?

This line of thinking led me asking these questions:

  1. Is our listing photo quality any sharper or attractive than it was back in June?
  2. Is the quality of our connections and conversations within our networks, tribes and niches the same as it was last October?
  3. What about our primary prospecting methods?  Are they the same tried and true methods or are we including new tools and tactics?
  4. What new things have we learned about marketing, trust and sharing? Are we doing any of them?
  5. Are we still blah-blah bragging and boasting harder than we listen?
  6. Are we using new tools like Rapportive.com to expand our social solar system empires?
  7. Are we sharing our knowledge and expertise in new ways? (SlideShare.net/Scribd.com/GoogleDocs/Dropbox.com)
  8. Are we responding to requests and unexpected opportunity any faster?
  9. Is our online presence and any mightier or than it was last August?
  10. Have we made the stressful process of selling and buying any easier, faster, simpler or less stressful?  Or is it the same pain in the ass hassel it was a year ago?

You get the picture.  If everyone everywhere expects more and I continue to deliver what I’ve always delivered, how long before my sexy-offering begins to shrink?  How long before it dims and disappears altogether?  We gotta make sure this doesn’t happen to us.

Better yet.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we changed some things for the better.  Instead of losing customers we would keep them smiling and referring us.   At the same time we we would attract people who are in search of something better?

Here’s My Plan Man.

My first step is awareness.  Now I’m aware – everybody expects Old-Faithful like upgrade-enhancements.  If I don’t for them, they won’t for me.

To lock in success, I need to act like a Mountain Dew fueled, insanely motivated to Dent-The Universe iPhone App creator.  I can’t sit on my ass and admire my past.  I gotta work like a rabid dog to create and deliver upgrade-enhancements – over and over.  No easy feat, eh.  No worries though.

I have a 4 Point Plan:

1.  Every time I download my daily dose of Presents, I’ll be reminded to ask myself, “Hey Ken Brand, what Presents are you delivering today?  What unexpected cool-things have you done for them lately?”  These daily self reminders will keep me aware, focused and quasi-accountable.

2.  I’ll make a list of areas that need upgrade-enhancement and prioritize my list. Areas with the most bang-for-my-attention will sit at the tip-top.

3.  Each week I’ll focus on the top three priorities. Underneath each of my listed items I’ll briefly describe the action steps required to upgrade and enhance whatever I’m currently doing.

4.  I’ll Do It.

Well that’s my plan.  I was wondering if you felt like I do about what it takes to create at culture of delighted clients who want to hire and refer you?  If you do. . .

What Will You Do Next?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cheers.  Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit

PS.  Ok.  All you Smart Phone,  Droid, Berry and only God knows why, Windows mobil users, your App developers are passionate too.  No disrespect.  I love Apple, so I wrote what I know.  XO

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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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    February 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Ken, for me this puts into perspective some things I’ve seen in you lately. I get it. I love your list, and am certainly happy you’re the first thing I read on a Monday morning. If I may add one slight twist to your title and beyond – don’t “act” … but rather … be. You are or you are not.

    I doubt we have one reader at AG who isn’t passionate about their business, but beyond passion, I love that you road map the next level, the next step, and not allowing yourself to slide backwards or sit still.

  2. Rachel Vanderveen

    February 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Some really good points in there. Despite your closing comment, I’m still going to say that Blackberry is better 🙂 But I won’t deny that I’ve been drawn to the general sexiness of the Iphone for many months now, and there have been moments of weakness where I almost bought one. The presents ARE better with apple, I admit, but Blackberry makes business simple. But I’ve been diehard Blackberry for years, so I can’t REALLY say which is better forsure 🙂 What presents can I make for my clients today? Good question! Even better post!

    • Ken Brand

      February 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks Rachel, the best tool is the one you like. So rock what you love. Cheers..

  3. Sherri Loomer

    February 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I’m just waiting on my contract upgrade date to go to a Droid platform, this post will probably expedite my decision. Life as we know it has changed in the Facebook era.

    Augusta GA Homes

    • Ken Brand

      February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Yeah, gotta be able to share stuff on run for sure. I hear the Honeycomb iPad killer is pretty cool. Should make your Droid approach even mightier. Thanks for the comment.

  4. BawldGuy

    February 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Always wanting to improve your results is why you’ve been successful wherever you’ve been.

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Business Marketing

How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation

(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.

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good listeners breed good listeners

We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.

Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.

“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.

Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.

So what can we do to ensure we’re the listeners we’ve always wanted from others? Being a good listener does take time, energy, and tons of practice. There are easy tips to keep in mind:

  1. Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
  2. Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
  4. Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
  5. Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.

By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.

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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.

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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.

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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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