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While writing this Brainzooming strategic blog post, I’m in my favorite strategic, creative environment. Regular readers, say it in unison, “Mike’s on a plane!” Tonight I’m flying Southwest Airlines and enjoying “Plane Crackers,” the snack you apparently get now on intermediate Southwest flights. Plane Crackers are a great way of attaching a strategic shape to a service experience.

Maybe it’s natural for Southwest since the airplane is a huge part of the physical evidence of its service experience.

This whole strategic topic of shape intrigues me because quite frankly, I’ve struggled putting one to The Brainzooming Group experience. Originally, I tried to pick a shape which seemed both fun and vaguely industrial, thus the Jokerman font in the blog logo.

In the past year, however, with my wife Cyndi’s creative input, I’ve gravitated toward an orange square as an emblematic symbol for The Brainzooming Group. With the name appearing close to, but not in the square, it suggests “out of the box” while recognizing creative strategies still have to be implementable. The square also suggests the hundreds of sticky notes and numerous posters full of ideas The Brainzooming Group creative approach generates during an energetic strategy session with a client.

While I’m drawn to the square, it’s not clear to me it’s ultimately the right shape for Brainzooming.

Let’s wrap with 3 questions:

1. As a Brainzooming blog reader, what shapes are suggested by your blog reading experience?

2. In your organization, especially if it’s a service, how are you using shape in a strategic, creative way?

3. And if the answer to #2 is “we’re not,” how could you begin to strategically and creatively incorporate shape into your brand experience?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts! – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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I spent time this week with some great marketing research peeps who work for a great research firm.

Always go with a known research company. The Dogbert companies of the world are just bad news!

Dilbert.com

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1. Never price what you do so low that you resent doing it or serving the customer paying the low price. You’d both be better off if you didn’t do business together in the first place.

2. When you’re most certain of how something HAS to be done, it’s the right time to think of another way to accomplish it.

3. If you have limited time with people, give them big ideas. Don’t bog them down in little details.

4. I came home from working out one night this week to find a former employee of mine had dropped off her very special pumpkin bread for us. That just jumped to the top of my measures of employee loyalty!

5. If your blog posts aren’t any longer than tweets, maybe you should look at cutting back on your blogging.

6. It’s a gift to be able to know when you are being an idiot and do something about it. It sucks when you’re “not sure” and you “can’t.”

7. We live in a world where a public apology now seems to count for more than a personal, private apology. That is a completely mistaken belief.

8. The holidays will make some people do some pretty unusual things. How about not using the holidays as your excuse for change, and just doing what you know you need to do anyway?

9. I heard a commercial for Downs, KS last week. The tagline was, “Experience Downs this Christmas.” Somebody needed to stop that before it hit the airwaves.

10. Here are 3 things which aren’t valid local news: 1. Shopping. 2. The results of the local station’s network’s reality TV show. 3. Its news anchor’s daughter getting married.

11. The dark side of cloud computing? When the clouds have rain in them or suddenly disappear, you’re screwed.

12. Somebody tweeted that November 24 was Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day. I replied that my unique talent is ignoring quirky holidays.

13. You may not get to keep all your progress, but you also don’t have to stay mired in all your setbacks!

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What are wiggle words?

  • Draft

  • Interim

  • Current Version

  • High-Level

  • Rough

  • Illustrative

  • Mock-up

  • Prototype

  • Simulation

  • Rough Draft

  • Possible

  • Top-line

  • Peek

  • Early Look

  • Preview

  • Highlights

  • Working Draft

  • Summary

  • Advanced Copy

  • Potential

These are all “wiggle words.”

They’re words which get used when what you’re supposed to have delivered isn’t quite there yet. That may be intentional, i.e. you really are providing an early peek in advance of a deadline, or it may mean you’ve fallen short of the agreed to timing or content expectations.

In either case, “wiggle words” can be very powerful, creating important positive or negative results. It’s all in how you use them strategically relative to the expectations you’re facing. So be smart, and be careful. And use them prudently. – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you. Mike Brown

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I wrote a post last week on “16 Tactics for Building an Audience via Social Media” which was picked up by a couple of other websites. The article received a ton of tweets (thanks!), including one which posed the question of, “Where do you ‘find’ intriguing social media content online?” While it may be easier to “find” intriguing content, it won’t, all by itself, set you apart from anyone else who is also merely grabbing social media content someone else has already created. Instead of spending as much time trying to find creative social media content, here are three things you can do to create intriguing social media content:

1. Have a persona in mind to help guide content development for your social media channels.

A persona is a detailed description of a representative reader of your social media content. Having a personalized view of your audience is vital to creating content which is really engaging.

2. Develop a good command of multiple, varied styles of creating social media content.

Don’t just develop one style of post writing and run it into the ground, post after post. Vary the length (short vs. long), style (straight prose, question and answer, lists), tone (informative, rants, teaching, snarky), and media (writing, video, embedded documents, audio).

3. Focus on what you care about.

You can’t expect an audience to get passionate about something you’re not passionate about yourself. So for all of the importance of targeting content your audience is seeking, first and foremost, it needs to be content where you have a distinctive point of view or really feel the need to say something. If you don’t, you’d be better off, quite frankly, not to talk about it, no matter how much your audience may be seeking the content.

This isn’t the whole story on intriguing content, but it’s a chunk of the foundation.

What points would you add to the mix to help someone better create intriguing content?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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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A creative block can happen when you’re handed a project or report and asked to work within a structure someone else has designed. Often when you haven’t helped create the project structure, it can lead to spending more time trying to figure out the format than making progress toward the effort’s objective, making it seem like a creative block.

When you find yourself facing a creative block in this type of situation, remember:

  • Don’t let arbitrary structures stop you from doing what makes sense.
  • Don’t let thinking you can’t get everything done stop you from doing something.
  • Don’t let a poorly conceived format stand in the way of you (or others) being able to see the progress you’re making.
  • Don’t let a situation spiral into over-complication when stopping and beginning anew would be much simpler.
  • Don’t let overly aggressive expectations preclude you from negotiating for a humbler objective which delivers a disproportionately large impact.

If you can employ these admonitions, you’ll minimize the possibility of a creative block, save yourself huge frustrations and create much better results. – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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My dad had colon surgery in April 2009 which resulted in him spending seven weeks in the hospital and having to wear a colostomy bag which is, as both my parents will gladly tell you, a less than delightful experience.

As we spent that long April Friday in the surgical waiting room at the Hays Medical Center in Western Kansas, we watched the Oprah episode where Oprah was learning to tweet. The big social media news was the challenge between @aplusk and @CNN to see who would be the first to reach 1 million followers. That Friday, I’d pretty much guarantee I was the only person tweeting in the waiting room (on my Blackberry) and was gratified to have a few very kind Twitter friends checking in to see what was happening with my dad.

Flash forward to last week when my dad had surgery to reverse the colostomy and regain some of his quality of life. The waiting room now has wifi and several people were on laptops (including a gamer), and one woman was using an iPad. Oprah has moved way beyond the learning phase on Twitter, having tweeted nearly 140 times – an average of one tweet every 4 days since that episode of her show. Lady Gaga has more than 7.2 million followers, and @aplusk is playing catch-up with just over 6 million followers.

As for me, instead of tweeting from my phone, I was using Tweetdeck. Where I’d been willing to tweet messages which disclosed I was traveling during the 2009 surgery, I was careful to only tell a couple of people via DMs last week that I was in Western KS and away from home.

Nineteen months later, there are many differences in the nature and scale of the online world.

The importance of being with family when they need you, however, hasn’t varied one bit. For that, I’m very thankful.  – Mike Brown

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