Data about your website is great.

Data patterns related to your website are even better.

Having big data to tell you how people react to different scenarios and situations on your website is the best yet.

When you are just launching a website, however, you may not have any data.

When that’s the case, either you can design something that fits a design aesthetic, or you can take what you know, answer sound strategic thinking questions, and design a website that makes strategic sense.

Strategic Thinking Questions – 3 Questions for New Website Design

We were looking at a new website the other day designed for the user to “scroll, scroll, and keep scrolling.” The nagging strategic issue was, “Why in the world would an audience member want to keep scrolling?”

To help the website creator through the strategic thinking to answer this question, we put together the strategic thinking exercise below. It lists each of the main pages of the website down the left column. Across the three columns to the right are three strategic thinking questions, all asked in the voice of the user:

  • “Why should I stay interested?”
  • “Why should I keep looking for more information?”
  • “Why should I buy something now?”

We used these three questions to quickly review the copy and design of the new website. Our objective was to have a solid, compelling answer to at least one of the three questions based on the first look at each of the website’s main pages.

Strategic Questions to Improve Design and Copy on a New Website


We used the three strategic thinking questions on a first pass review of the website. The questions helped us strengthen copy, make decisions on where to place key features, and changed perspectives about whether certain functionality made sense or not.

Our decisions weren’t data-driven because we don’t have any data on the website. The three strategic thinking questions definitely proved to be hard workers, however, for checking whether a brand new website offers compelling reasons for users to engage.

If you’re in a similar situation, grab a copy of this strategic thinking exercise and see how hard it can work for you! – Mike Brown

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the new FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategies with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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Thank you for participating in the Idea Magnets webcast. Here are links to resources and more information from throughout the Idea Magnets presentation.



The Importance of Creative Leadership

Seven Characteristics of Idea Magnets

1. Inspiring

2. Serving

3. Attracting

4. Connecting

5. Encouraging

6.  Deciding

7. Replenishing

Some Idea Magnets You Should Know

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Are you an idea magnet?

Idea magnets come up with great creative ideas. And just as importantly, through encouraging and motivating others, idea magnets attract other innovators and creative leaders with incredible ideas into their circles. Idea magnets make work and life more exciting, fulfilling, and successful!

Idea Magnets – 7 Keys for Creative Leadership Skills

Idea-MagnetsWould you like to boost your creative leadership skills to become a stronger idea magnet?

Then you need to join me for the LeadOn Webcast: “Idea Magnets – 7 Keys to Attracting and Cultivating Creative Business Leaders.”

This exclusive webcast, sponsored by the American Marketing Association on June 23, 2014, springs from a popular Brainzooming article highlighting lessons from idea magnets I’ve worked with during my career.

The webcast features a wide array of new Brainzooming creative leadership skills content not covered in our other innovation and creativity workshops. We’ll talk about:

  • ​Strengthening your creative leadership impact with a diverse team
  • Identifying unique connections to maximize new thinking and creative leadership impact
  • Translating creative thinking into effective change, progress, and results​

I would love to have you join us for this webcast! You’ll learn great techniques you can start using right away, plus “Idea Magnets” represents a first-time collaboration that is creating a new look and tone to our Brainzooming content.

Idea Magnets – A New Collaboration

This exciting new collaboration is with long-time friend Leslie Adams who is creating the visuals for the Idea Magnets webinar.

Leslie-Adams-CrownMany people know Leslie as a writer. Over the past few years though, she’s been showcasing her creativity online with her wonderful photography. She has become very active on Instagram and in the Instagram community in Kansas City.

While reviewing Leslie’s Instagram and Flickr portfolios for images to incorporate in the webcast, I was reminded of a unique aspect to Leslie’s work that integrates two areas of her creative talents: you have to look at her photos AND read the captions she creates for them. It’s easy enough to glide through virtual contact sheets and not notice what’s written about the photos. In Leslie’s case, you’ll want to do both because her words contribute so much to pointing out the subtle details and motivations for her photos!

In fact, many of the captions and quotes Leslie has included with her photos are inspiring ways to expand and add new texture to the webcast’s content.

We’re hoping our collaboration will turn into an eBook to accompany this new Idea Magnets content.

Register Today for “Idea Magnets – 7 Keys to Attracting and Cultivating Creative Business Leaders”

Step one is for you to join us for the Webcast on June 23, 2014. Register today for the webcast, which is open to both members and non-members of the American Marketing Association, on the AMA website.

We’ll see you on June 23 as we attract all kinds of new ideas to develop your creative leadership skills! – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.





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Want to set yourself apart through creating greater leadership impact and performance in your organization?

If you do, here’s an idea for starting to improve right away.

Based on workshop requests I’ve been receiving from clients this year, strategic thinking skills are re-emerging as a subject people want to dive into now, especially related to personal leadership and organizational success.

With rapid and often apparently uncertain change in today’s markets, strategic thinking skills are vital for leaders to adeptly combine broad, interconnected thinking and rigorous implementation skills.

Creating Leadership Impact through Strategic Thinking and Implementation

Given the rekindled interest in strategic thinking, it’s exciting to be partnering with the American Marketing Association Career Resource Center to offer the “Creating Leadership Impact through Strategic Thinking and Implementation” webinar. The July 23, 2013 webinar will be the first dedicated Brainzooming strategic thinking webinar. Over the course of the ninety minutes, we’ll show you an actionable strategic thinking and leadership approach so you can immediately:

  • Begin expanding your personal leadership impact in your organization
  • Better contribute to and successfully implement big picture thinking for results
  • Become a more successful, innovative decision maker

Whether you’re a long-time Brainzooming reader or new to our website, if you’re interested in molding your skills to be a more effective strategic leader, this new webinar is tailored to help you deliver on your talents in new, dynamic ways.


Leading up to the webinar, here’s an overview of some of the strategic thinking skills topics we’ll address:

I look forward to you joining us for “Creating Leadership Impact through Strategic Thinking and Implementation” on July 23rd. Register Today! – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

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Over the past year, I’ve been writing new articles for several innovation and business blogs beyond Brainzooming™. For the sake of completeness, here are links to a number of these blog posts on various topics related to innovation, strategy, and careers:

Blogging Innovation

Talent Culture

Stepcase Lifehack Blog

    Gary Unger’s Blog

    Additionally, it was quite an honor this week to be included among some pretty elite company on two top blogging lists, one from Nate Riggs and the other from Jamie Turner, the 60 Second Marketer™.

    If any of the topics or the blog lists are of interest, please check them out and let me know what you think. – Mike Brown

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    I met Nick Kellet through the monthly #Ideachat Twitter chats hosted by Angela Dunn. Intriguingly enough, after we got to know each other, it turns out Nick had included Brainzooming blog content on list posts in one of his presentations about how his company List.ly is changing lists to make them more collaborativeWith a new release in the works, this is a great opportunity to hear from Nick on the next generation of lists:

    9 Reasons List Posts Are Broken by Nick Kellet

    Nick-KelletSo what is a list? Lists are simply a collection

    We use lists to organize our lives online and off. We make lists of just about anything.

    Lists are the backbone of the web. Lists exist on every web page to organize content from menus to blogrolls and so much more.

    Lists are a construct that hasn’t evolved since the inception of the web, given all the changes in our social norms and the way we share, interact and engage online that feels wrong.

    Lists and list posts are too important to be ignored. From here on I’m going to talk specifically about “list posts.”

    Why are list posts broken?

    Lists are Broken

    Image Credit: marcobellucci via Flickr.com and Creative Commons

    List posts are things such as:

    List posts are a subset of all the types of lists that exist on the web (lists of videos, songs, slides, friends etc). List posts account for 30% of the content and 50% of page views. Even those who dislike list posts agree list posts work.

    While list posts work well, they are still broken. At best lists use a simple HTML construct of tags. Lists are essentially dumb HTML. Lists need to be smarter.

    So let’s explore. I’ve noted 9 reasons why lists need a makeover:

    Nick Kellet Nick Kellet
    Listly Curator Listly Curator
    Listly Listly
    9 items   6 followers   2 votes   1.38k views

    9 Reasons Lists Are Broken

    Source: http://brainzooming.com/blog-list-posts-9-reasons-they-are-broken-by-nick-kellet/16626/



    Jan 29, 2013

    HTML lists are not interactive. What does that mean and why is it frustrating? It simply means you cannot sort and filter the list.

    This limitation changes how we interact with lists.

    When we know we can filter and sort through a list it becomes more consumable. It's become a basic expectation for any dataset on the web.



    Jan 29, 2013

    A list that is not social does not allow the reader to engage with the content. You can't comment or vote or contribute to the list.

    Today people comment below the post in the comments section. You can comment by referencing the items in the list - all manually.

    Readers can suggest omissions and corrections but the list never changes. Busy publishers never return to update blog posts based on the comments. If they did, they would be highly unproductive.

    Comments also include much duplication and there is no simple way to aggregate opinion.

    Social engagement is also social proof. Your list becomes more trusted if people can see that it's be contributed to by many people. Acting socially is a digital native's modus operandi.



    Jan 29, 2013

    HTML lists are simply text.

    Lists are not stored in a database in a way that lets them be intelligently queried or modified.

    Lists are stored in blobs of text inside CMSs such as Wordpress.

    They cannot be extended and reorganized in any way without massive human effort. This means if search practices change, your lists our outdated and invalid.

    So while lists account for 30% of content, lists are of much less useful that they could be.



    Jan 29, 2013

    Because lists are just "text" they cannot be reused without the effort of copying, pasting, fixing any broken formatting, attributing the list to the author, linking to their original post, etc...

    Lists aren't like videos and slides, where we are used to embedding and reusing these content assets. HTML Lists cannot be embedded or quoted without cutting and pasting.

    Every time a list is quoted, there is a risk it does not get correctly credited. Poor attribution is as much a function of laziness, distractedness and carelessness as it is deliberate.

    There's also a risk that if the list were to change, that the copied information no longer reflects the central truth.

    In their current form, HTML lists are simply not reusable.


    Flexible Formatting

    Jan 29, 2013
    Flexible Formatting

    HTML lists come "as is". The format of your list can and will not change. That is limiting. If you want to change the format of all your lists posts, you need to update each post.

    There is no tagging in lists to let you know how or what to change. With the rise of responsive experiences to suit our mobile lifestyle that is becoming much more important.

    How things look matters today. Formatting your list in any rich way inside each post is highly inefficient and prone to error and inconsistency.



    Jan 29, 2013

    Your HTML list's engagement cannot be measured because you cannot engage with the list, but if you could, that would open up all sorts of options for tracking how people value your content.

    You could find out so much more about the sorts of people that engage, when they engage and what content is most interesting to them.

    The lack of measurement leaves the publisher in the dark.



    Jan 29, 2013

    Today we all love to share. Sharing is on the rise and yet lists inside your posts are not easy to share.

    You can share the post, not the list.

    You certainly can't share the items on the list. Sharing an item adds context and meaning.

    You can mention a list item by name, but the reader has to skim the whole post to find the item.

    Sharing should be an opportunity for adding context and value.

    That's a missed opportunity. Sharing, with these parameters, is not practical with static HTML lists.

    This friction stops people sharing. It stops readers from reading. The publisher, the sharer and the reader lose.



    Jan 29, 2013

    Lists don't change, they age, they date and become irrelevant. Creating content is an investment.

    Ideally we want to create content to stay relevant and to engage and entertain our audiences. Lists today have a "publish once" mindset.

    If your lists become social then your content can evolve and enhance over time. The evolution of your content means your content investment holds its value.

    Your readers will still find your content useful. Best of all search engines love content that evolves over time.

    In the world of content, evolution is a good thing.



    Jan 29, 2013

    Lists attract niché audiences. The only people that read specific lists are people who find that topic interesting. Lists are self-selecting. Community forms around shared interests.

    When you make lists social, and your content evolves over time, more people become attracted to your content. Social proof attracts people.

    When people see other people engaging on a topic that speaks to their passions, they are tipped to contribute too. We all lurk selectively, and we contribute even more selectively.

    When people contribute to great lists community bonds are formed, first with the content and secondly with the people who have also contributed.

    Am I missing anything? Vote for those you agree with, and feel free to add your own suggestions.

    The Dawn of Interactive Lists

    Lists are a wonderful concept for engaging people. Humans love to skim lists, but our social norms and expectations have changed. Lists need to change with the times.

    This is the thinking that drives our vision at Listly.

    The best way to experience an interactive list post is to create a list and embed it in a blog post just such as this one.

    So what’s stopping you? – Nick Kellet


    If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

    Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation success boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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    I’m doing a social media strategy presentation at the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association in San Diego today. Today’s talk is a major revamp of  my social media strategy presentation, incorporating learnings from all the social media work we’ve done the past year. With much more social media content to share, I’ve prepared 12 social media topics for the audience to choose from in customizing the presentation to the issues most relevant for them. They get value from picking what’s covered, and it keeps me on my toes since no two presentations are the same!

    We’ll also be highlighting social media strategy best practices from among attendees to make the talk more industry-specific and recognize smart work in the transportation and logistics industry. While looking for best practices, I found a number of social media mistakes as well. Instead of calling them out in the presentation, however, today’s post highlights seven of the (unattributed) mistakes any business-to-business (or even business-to-consumer) company shouldn’t be making:

    1. Making your product/service the hero in every blog post.

    In transportation industry blogs, the companies doing the blogging have their services providing heroic solutions in WAY too many posts. Using the problem-solution-result format to occasionally highlight your brand’s products and services is okay. If every blog post involves your brand coming to the rescue, however, it’s repetitive and will disaffect readers. The alternative is delivering content on what customers are:

    • Seeking information about
    • Focused on in their professional (and personal) lives
    • Challenged to accomplish in their businesses

    With this approach, incorporating the Think-Know-Do perspective we’ve recommended will help you to create much greater content value for readers.

    2. Only following and fanning business-to-business customers.

    For business-to-business brands (and business-to-consumer ones too), deciding who to follow and fan can be challenging. While there are a variety of strategies which may be right, at least one strategy is clearly wrong: only following your customers. When you only follow customers in a business-to-business market, your customer list becomes visible to anyone checking your profile.

    3. Creating an industry platform with lots of fanfare and very little planning.

    One company introduced an issue-oriented portal to tackle a big, meaty industry issue. The introduction included lots of fanfare and promises of frequent updates, community, and vibrant conversations. On launch day, the company debuted several “executive” blog posts to frame its thought leadership position and then . . . wait for it . . . nothing. What does it make your brand look like when months pass and nothing’s happening on the site? If makes it look as if your brand doesn’t keep promises. When executives become hell-bent to launch this type of site, invest some of the development money into creating a legitimately implementable content plan to keep it updated and build a robust dialogue. Not sure how? Call us!

    4. Featuring sharing buttons but nothing worth sharing.

    Definitely make social media content spreadable by installing plug-ins to allow readers to share your content within their own social networks. Putting sharing buttons on a web page is only one part of the sharing equation. The content has to be valuable and worth taking time to let others know about it. Going through several TMSA attendees’ social media sites, sharing shows up on many pages no one would ever share no matter how easy it is to do.

    5. You create all the Twitter and Facebook content you share.

    Social networking is about conversation and sharing relevant content from multiple pertinent sources. The Twitter and Facebook presences for many TMSA attendees do nothing but push their own content, making it seem like just a bunch of mini press releases. You can check how you’re doing on this by looking at your last 20 tweets or Facebook status updates. In how many are you “talking” vs. answering questions, engaging in conversations with other users or sharing content from others? Target less than 20% of the content being your material and 80% from some form of interaction.

    6. Ignoring social media when your company is being challenged.

    When a brand is under attack, it’s discouraging, but pulling back and not communicating in every social channel where your brand is getting bad talked isn’t the way to go. With the ability for anyone to essentially broadcast very creative content about your brand, you can’t afford silence. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story. If you’re getting pounded in blog posts, comment and move the conversation to positive topics. If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.

    7. Having multiple accounts and one avatar.

    It can be smart to have multiple identities for your brand set up in relevant channels with content targeted to interest areas your customers have. Every presence shouldn’t have exactly the same corporate logo though. Not providing visual differentiation undermines the value of the diverse, focused content you’re sharing. When designing multiple avatars, make sure they carry a comparable feel so people know they’re all from your brand, but reflect the distinct content and perspective each is presenting.


    If you’re a TMSA attendee, were any of these written about your social media presence? If you didn’t attend TMSA, do any of the problems sound familiar anyway? Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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