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Talk to B2B service or product providers and you’ll likely hear about solution selling.

Fair enough. You don’t want to buy something and still have the problem afterward. You want your problem to go away and never come back another day.

The challenge is there are often multiple problems and multiple solutions. If it’s unclear which problem and which solution the potential client and provider are trying to address, the provider’s proposed solution can be way off the mark. If multiple providers are competing for the opportunity, they may be trying to solve different problems. That further adds to the likelihood of problem-solution mismatches.

We had one recently.

A potential client had already identified a time window for a strategic thinking session, the senior management group to participate, and the expectation of having a productive conversation leading to greater brand strategy clarity.

The company had contacted another firm to facilitate the discussion. Due to schedule conflicts, the other potential provider referred the company to us at the last minute. With no actual direct conversation with the potential client, we created a strategic thinking session plan for answering the brand strategy questions and issues we identified based on skeletal information.

Brainzooming Strategic Thinking Session

A Brainzooming strategic thinking session. Photo courtesy of Jason Harper.

After multiple emails, we finally talked with the client two days before the planned discussion time. Everything was going well as we discussed our approach and the proposed end deliverable: a definitive, consensus-oriented, strategic roadmap for the company to address its brand situation.

Then we got to the price.

Our price was five times higher than what the other potential provider proposed.

Doh!

Discussing this with the potential client, the difference was clear.

The other provider’s solution was showing up to be a neutral, albeit knowledgeable party, who would “host” a discussion.

That was a solution, but only to a VERY narrow interpretation of the problem, i.e., managing the allotted time for a discussion with a little follow up.

We were addressing delivering the answer they needed to move forward with a brand strategy and implementation in the few months their management group is expecting. We’d proposed addressing the bigger problem the potential client was admittedly facing. The other provider had proposed (and set a price expectation) for a small solution to a much narrower problem.

The big learning was even though I don’t use the term, we are solution selling. We don’t just show up and facilitate. We identify, plan, manage, and deliver a strategic outcome. In other words, our focus is creating strategic impact. That’s why we ensure all the planning and meeting conditions lead to a real result. That’s why we create a definitive series of exercises leading to the desired strategic outcome.

That’s why we don’t simply stand in front of a whiteboard, ask a few questions, and capture some notes.

It’s all part of the difference between facilitating a meeting and creating strategic impact. – Mike Brown

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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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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We’ve designed and delivered many creating strategic impact workshop sessions for clients this year. No two sessions have been identical because we design each workshop to the client’s specific learning objectives. Today, we’re delivering a strategic kickoff meeting workshop for an organization working to dramatically improve its strategic planning process for 2015.

Since 2015 planning is right around the corner for many companies, it’s the ideal time to look at the value of a 2015 strategic kickoff meeting and include one on your planning calendar.

Top 10 Reasons to Have a 2015 Strategic Kickoff Meeting Soon

Strategic-FakeBook-Workshop

Based on our clients’ various objectives, here are the top 10 reasons to have a 2015 strategic kickoff meeting:

  1. It’s the right time to boost everyone’s skills in strategic, creating thinking.
  2. There’s still time to tweak your annual planning process so it is more productive as you plan for next year’s success.
  3. It’s possible within a few days to organize a Brainzooming strategic thinking workshop closely aligned to your organization’s strategic direction and priorities.
  4. Having a strategic planning kickoff meeting allows you to address skills gaps with your team relative to strategic thinking and successful implementation.
  5. Whether your focus is a small team or dozens of line managers, we can adjust a strategic kickoff meeting to help everyone productively align on important objectives.
  6. You can customize your strategic kickoff meeting from hundreds of Brainzooming strategic thinking exercises so your business objectives dictate the activities your team learns and practices.
  7. It’s a fantastic way to let the organization’s leaders actively participate with the team instead of becoming bogged down in meeting details and trying to facilitate.
  8. If you are in an advertising agency, consulting, or service business, a strategic kickoff meeting serves as a professional development boost for your staff.
  9. A strategic kickoff is a fantastic way to involve your non-profit’s board of directors more actively in understanding and positively contributing to the organization’s future success.
  10. You’ll hear comments afterward from your team such as:

Yes, strategic thinking can be both engaging and clearly beneficial for your organization’s success. We don’t think there’s any other way to do it!

Are you ready to schedule your strategic kickoff meeting?

What do you think?

We have the capacity to develop and schedule your 2015 strategic kickoff meeting. Or if you’re well into planning already, we can orient the workshop content toward creating strategic impact and a focus on successful implementation for 2015.

Give us a call at 816-509-5320 or email at info@brainzooming.com, and let us get to work on your kickoff meeting! – Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

 

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I’ve had several coaching conversations about career challenges with multiple individuals who thought their jobs might be in danger.

One theme through all of them was how to really figure out your career situation if you suspect your job is in danger. Sometimes it’s obvious you’re on the bubble. Some people seem to always miss the obvious, however, especially when the obvious is about them.

Last-Day-Mug

11 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Job Is In Danger

Those coaching conversations led to this list of eleven questions about an individual’s organizational impact. If you suspect your job is in danger (or even if you don’t), honestly ask yourself these questions. They range across a variety of ways individuals can make an organizational impact through the value they deliver

If I weren’t here, would the organization . . .

  1. Lose any customers?
  2. See a revenue decline?
  3. Be less profitable (or financially successful)?
  4. Be a less compelling investment?
  5. Suffer a negative impact in reputation?
  6. Lose out on an incredible brand ambassador?
  7. Suffer from a major loss of intellectual capital?
  8. Become less efficient?
  9. Experience a major loss in quality or effectiveness?
  10. Be asked why I was no longer there?
  11. Notice the difference two months after I’ve left?

This list of organizational impact questions is not tested, and it’s not necessarily comprehensive.

But if you can’t find at least one or two undisputable “Yes” answers amid the list (and “maybe” or “a little” aren’t “yes”), you are simply a cog in your organization – and a pretty expendable and easily replaced one at that.

What to do next to improve your career success?

Your inability to answer any of these career success questions affirmatively means it’s past time to decide how you’re going to change your career situation where you are. Alternatively, it’s time to find a new place where you can develop and play a critical role.

And if you do neither, you’re just living on borrowed time, which is no way to live your career. - Mike Brown

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Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative thinking and ideas! For an organizational innovation and strategic thinking 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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Prior to the Social Media Strategies Summit last week, I tweeted about finishing my social media strategy workshop presentations in time. Reviewing the agenda, I also mentioned a hook included in the session description several months earlier that needed to be tied into the workshop opening. Another Social Media Strategies Summit presenter tweeted back that social media presentations should not be prepared more than two weeks before a conference since things change so quickly.

My reply was while some facets of the social media landscape (tools, terms of service, etc.) do change quickly and frequently, much of social media (i.e., the strategic side) is much more static.

Sitting through his conference presentation, I was hard-pressed to identify any of his content reflecting any important changes in the social media world from the prior two weeks.

How Quickly Does Social Media Change?

Contrast that with the mind-expanding presentation by Kansas City’s Travis Wright on marketing technology. Teedubya’s Social Media Strategies Summit keynote was an up-to-date overview of the significant number and wide-ranging functionality among marketing platforms, apps, and services. These marketing technology tools are designed, in one way or another, so marketers can better understand and target their audiences. Travis’ presentation felt like it had to be right down to the minute to reflect what’s going on now or in the very near future.

Teedubya-SMSS

Being that newsy and deep on a topic requires time – time many brands don’t have (or want to expend) when creating content.

That’s why we’re big fans of brands creating a healthy amount of evergreen content as part of a social media strategy. Evergreen content, which holds up long after today’s news passes, helps a brand develop a sizable online presence, paying website traffic dividends for an extended period of time.

5 Questions for Evergreen Content Success

If your brand wants to develop and publish more evergreen content, here are five questions to ask about your content. Your potential answers are Yes, No, or Not Applicable / Unsure. The more “Yes” answers on your content, the greater potential is has for being relevant for an extended period of time.

  1. Will this information be accurate well into the future?
  2. Will any techniques shared apply in future situations?
  3. Will the information shared, even when time has passed, still retain historical value as a reference source or point of comparison for the current day?
  4. Will this topic and any related issues change relatively slowly?
  5. Even if the principles shared here are varied or modified over time, will there still be value in knowing what they were originally?

News gets attention, without a doubt, but evergreen content makes your online content work much harder 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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We have been developing a new competitive intelligence process for a client. The B2B company wants to better collect, analyze, and disseminate valuable insights on competitive strategy.

As with many competitive intelligence systems, especially in B2B settings, much of the most timely and otherwise unavailable intelligence will come from the salesforce. Similarly, the salesforce is in one of the best positions to take advantage of competitive intelligence to better position products, value propositions, and offers to customers to stymie competitive strategy.

It is vital, however, to ensure the competitive intelligence process is not simply asking for competitive intelligence from salespeople, and then giving it back to them without adding sufficient value.

6 Ways to Enhance Competitive Intelligence from the Salesforce

Heard-On-The-Street

To combat this possibility, here are six enhancements to competitive intelligence that originates with the salesforce to deliver new value:

  1. Aggregate information from multiple people to provide a view no one individual has in order to see patterns or spot trends.
  2. Perform additional and deeper analysis on the raw information to create new understanding.
  3. Communicate information to senior leadership that salespeople feel intently, but that is typically lost in the corporate shuffle (i.e., a regional or niche competitor who is not big enough to get corporate-wide attention).
  4. Disprove or verify early rumors salespeople have reported to address the word on the street.
  5. Exploit the availability of non-sales sources to enhance the raw intelligence and deliver new information to them.
  6. Make if more efficient for sales to gather and especially share competitive intelligence with a process that funnels competitive intelligence to them when they need it.

Is a more robust competitive strategy in your plans?

If your organization needs to boost the value of competitive intelligence from your salesforce, give us a call or email. We’d love to talk to you about how we apply our Brainzooming techniques to efficiently gathering information from broad sources and turning it into actionable competitive intelligence. – Mike Brown

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

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 info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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The session I am presenting today at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas is on “3 Keys to Curating Content without Losing Your Brand Voice.”

Social-Media-Strategies-Sum

Social Media Strategy and Curating Content

Curating content essentially means searching out and sharing content through a brand’s social media outlets that originated from some other source, whether that is another brand, organization, or individual.

At the extreme, if all (or nearly all) the content an entity shares online was originally created elsewhere, it is functioning as no more than an aggregator of others’ content.

As we will discuss and work with the idea of curating content in today’s session, “curation” implies a brand is adding at least some value to the content it shares even though it did not produce the original source content.

16 Ways to Add Value When Curating Content

What are some of the ways a brand can add value when curating content? Here are sixteen ideas organized in three broad areas:

Endorsing

  • Cull lots of content to the best content that’s available
  • Offer a dependable point of view
  • Develop a resource / tool list
  • Provide disinterested objectivity

Packaging / Compiling / Pointing

  • Find the undiscovered
  • Compile material others cannot
  • Organize it better, easier, in new ways
  • Provide timeliness to delivering the aggregated content
  • Provide coordinated timing in delivering the content
  • Develop an entire sweep / survey of a topic
  • Integrate the content in new and inventive ways with other content

Enlightening

  • Add new insights
  • Challenge the original perspective
  • Bring your expertise to it
  • Supply inside knowledge
  • Provide an encyclopedic, “timeless” treatment of the topic

Beyond these ideas, it is vital that a brand identify and curate content that contributes to its brand position in smart ways. We will provide a framework for how social strategists can unpack a brand’s foundation documents to generate ideas for curating content. Additionally, we will share a strategic brief format specifically to help a social media team actively curate on-brand content on an ongoing basis.

If you aren’t with us at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas, but you’d like to learn more about this social media strategy approach we’ll be sharing, let us know. We’d be happy to fill you in on more of the details.  - 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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I’m in Dallas this week presenting a workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy and a session on strategic content curation for the Social Media Strategies Summit (at the wonderful Hotel ZaZa).

SMSSummit-Hotel-ZaZa

Integrating Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Today’s workshop on integrating content marketing and social media strategy is based on the strategic view that while content marketing existed before social media, the strategic combination of the two delivers the most effective results for brands. Even though this seems like common sense, research suggests not all brand marketers are taking advantage of integrating these efforts. Ineffective content marketers are 5 times less likely to create a documented content strategy and are using fewer social platforms than leading content marketers.

For those attending the workshop, and those who aren’t going to be with us in Dallas, here’s an overview of the topics we’ll cover along with links to underlying content we’ll be covering in-depth during the two-hour workshop.

9-Social-Diagnostics

Subscribe-Brainzooming

Starting with an Integrated Mindset

Tools to Develop the Content Strategy

Integrating Social Media for Its Best Advantage

 

 

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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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