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I was in Milwaukee last week to for an innovation training presentation for the Milwaukee Business Marketing Association on “Taking the NO Out of Business InNOvation.” During the trip, I had time for a few extracurricular activities. These included doing a couple of innovation training sessions for my former boss Doug Fisher’s supply chain classes at Marquette University and touring the Marquette campus afterward with Doug. I worked for Doug for nearly seven years early in my career, and it was wonderful to catch up with him in person.

After the Business Marketing Association innovation presentation the next day, I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Hall Folk Art Collection. On the way out, I saw these brochures featuring four customized themes of interest to museum goers:

  • Impressing visitors with striking pieces
  • Feeling better about yourself through depictions of downtrodden people
  • Works featuring the color blue (which was once rarely found in art)
  • The particularly intriguing “Naughty Bits” tour which includes risqué works of art

In a completely non-technical, and totally accessible way, the museum, which has several floors of art organized by collections and specific historical periods, has found a way to inform visitors about how they can easily customize the museum experience themselves in a novel way.

Think about your business. Is there a way you can adapt this customer experience strategy simply by creating a new categorization or organization scheme to your products, services, information, or whatever you offer that attracts customers? How can you employ a comparable strategy to make it more interesting, intriguing, easy, or valuable for customers to experience your brand in a customized way with no technology investment? – 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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It’s been about 1 year since I left corporate life to pursue The Brainzooming Group full-time. Here are some of the strategic lessons I understand now that I didn’t understand nearly as well 1 year ago.

  • You’re better off to not think someone else in business shares your same performance standards.
  • You’re definitely better off to not openly assess your own performance in light of your overly-high standards. Give yourself a break.
  • A lot of the same problems exist in lots of companies, so don’t think your crap is so special.
  • Despite preparing as much as you think you can to get ready to do something new, you’ll discover things you didn’t prepare for the minute you actually commit to doing it.
  • All that stuff they tell you about the importance of networking (especially when you don’t really need the network)? It’s all true. And then some.
  • It’s possible to get by without caffeine, but you better get some more sleep if you’re going cold turkey.
  • Slow pay is the first step in slow death. Cash is (and always will be) king.
  • Business development is more rewarding than I ever imagined.
  • Most things happen about when they should happen.
  • The corporate hierarchy doesn’t necessarily flush out sociopaths. They can get, and apparently hang on to, really good jobs. And even if they get fired, somebody else seems ready to hire them again.
  • There are great, trustworthy people all over that are wonderful to do business with.
  • People don’t necessarily know or even have a remote idea of the major impact they’ve had on others.
  • Sometimes, you do have to jump.
  • Too many people don’t seem to look for the learning opportunities in uncomfortable or apparently bad situations. Do yourself a favor…shut up and go to school right away.
  • It’s easy to give away what you do for free. Some of that’s okay. Some of it isn’t. Figure out which is which in a hurry.
  • The good results from taking a chance aren’t necessarily going to happen right away. It may take months. Or longer. If it was important enough to do in the first place, it’s important enough to be patient about it.
  • Sometimes telling you, “No” is the biggest favor someone can do for you. Quit trying to convince them to tell you, “Yes.”
  • Short naps during the work day really help you be better at what you do. We’d all be better off if we admitted that.
  • When things are going really well for a prolonged period of time, you need to think about walking away and letting somebody else have their shot at new-found success.
  • There are projects portrayed as “sure things” which are very important and have very tight timelines that have no chance of happening.
  • “Does this really matter?” and “Will this ever matter?” are two of the three best questions you can ask.
  • “What are we trying to achieve?” is the other one.
  • If you’re not able to portray yourself as successful at something, you’re not defining “success” in the right way.
  • Getting up to go to mass each weekday at 6:30 a.m. provides the most important reason in the world to get up along with creativity and tremendous structure to the day.
  • People (and pets) will step up and try to fill voids when they exist. What’s really cool is they’ll probably fill them in very unexpected ways. Sit back and see what happens.  – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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In the midst of a client call last Friday where I was talking about brainstorming, my wife Cyndi ran in to show me this cartoon. It’s been quite some time since a Brainzooming post ran under the “Offered without Comment” category; this one qualifies! – Mike Brown

Dilbert.com

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Websites, content, and registration forms are all part of a great business building strategy. Through them, businesses have the opportunity to capture information on people, particularly when website visitors are compelled to register to download information. That strategy creates leads and follow up phone calls (if a phone number has been required) to say they registered on the website and to check to see if the content marketer could find out a little more and share some additional information.

That’s all great.

Except for the fact a website visitor’s recollection of being on a website is often much, much dimmer than the impression created by all the information captured behind the scenes.

I had a voice mail last week from David (he of one name – kind of like Madonna – since he didn’t leave a last name) from a 2 or 3 word named company (although I could only understand the first word, “PR,” because he slurred the rest of the company’s name) about my recent registration on their website (for a download that I have no recollection of and no hints about from David to provide any context about it), wondering if I’d do him the pleasure of calling him back to get more information.

I guess David, as awkward as this may be, my answer is, “NO,” because a call back will require me to say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Obviously you have my phone number, so there must have been some kind of contact. Based on your rushed and slurred message without any reference to what I may have been doing on your website (which I bet you, or somebody in your company knows), however, I have no clue what you’re talking about.

So here’s my advice to all you cool web-based content marketers immersed in your strategies of collecting information on whoever trips across your information-rich web presence:

  • Speak slowly if you’re leaving me a phone message
  • Give me your full name
  • More importantly, repeat the full name of your company, s-l-o-w-l-y
  • Remind me what I downloaded (because chances are I don’t remember, since I’m kind of a serial downloader)
  • When you tell me about how much you’d appreciate a call back, give me a compelling reason for why returning your call will be a BIG benefit to me too!

That’s my content marketing strategy advice for today. – 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.  To learn how we can structure a strategy to keep you ahead of your customers, email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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Last Monday, I spoke on social media strategy for long-time reader Becky Johnston’s graduate level marketing class at UMKC. There were approximately 25 smart, early-career students in her marketing class.

We were talking about social media’s pervasiveness across customer service touchpoints in a business. I shared Chris Brogan’s opinion on providing front line customer contact employees some mini-version of media relations to better prepare them to deal with customers using social media to broadcast the customer experience. I asked, as I frequently do, who had heard of Chris Brogan. And as frequently happens, not one student raised a hand.

Yes, nobody knew who Chris Brogan was.

For many of us heavily into social media, and Twitter especially, we could better tell you Chris Brogan’s strategic perspective on the topics of the day than we could those of a relatively close relative. I rarely interact with most of my cousins, but I’m checking in multiple times weekly, if not daily, to see what Chris is tweeting and writing about on social media, marketing, strategy, and any other topic he decides to cover.

But kids, we aren’t normal.

So beyond Chris Brogan, who is legitimately a social media rock star, there are lots of other lesser-known great thinkers whose strategic ideas may not be seeing the light of day among important business contacts you have.

There are a lot of people we do business with (peers, bosses, employees, clients) who never see the great strategic insights being shared online in what are common social media channels to some, but not common at all for many very intelligent, active, successful business people.

Which brings us to the question: Are you retweeting IRL?

By that I mean, beyond simply RTing great content you’re seeing via social media, are you:

  • Referring to it in business conversations?
  • Sharing it in staff meetings?
  • Printing articles and posting them on bulletin boards or sending them to others?
  • Emailing links to business associates?
  • Incorporating these perspectives into presentations you’re doing?

Because while a retweet (or a Digg or a Like) is easy and provides the sense you’ve shared what you think is relevant with the world, there are many people who’d benefit from the content that are never seeing it.

So do them a favor, after you RT it online, RT it IRL too! 

BTW, in case you’re interested, you can take a look at the Prezi of the social media strategy overview below. – 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 can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

 

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Our pastor, Fr. Don Cullen, was teaching an adult religious education class recently, talking about lessons learned in more than three decades of religious life.

One lesson was when a child hands you a picture he or she has made, starts to tell you about it, and then looks for your reaction, the correct thing to say is, “Tell me more.”

Not only does “tell me more” work in this instance, it got me thinking about all the other business and life situations in which it’s the best thing to say such as when:

  • Somebody is telling you about a confusing situation and is looking for a reaction
  • You’re stumped for an answer when someone asks you a question
  • Another person is on the verge of figuring out a dilemma they’re struggling with
  • You’re learning valuable new information from someone

Since it seems like at least one of these situations crops up daily, I’m trying to say, “Tell me more,” much more frequently. – 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.  To learn how we can bring out the best innovative thinking in your team email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320.

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We were working with a client who is very quality-focused in all aspects of its product strategy. One of its brand elements is engineering products for extensive longevity, equating quality and durability in its brand promise.

While this strategy is part of supporting a premium price point for its product line, our interviews suggested the brand was not getting full credit in the market for its quality/durability combo. Beyond that, it was in fact being hurt in some segments where the durability it provides isn’t necessary, and potential customers are unwilling to pay the premium. The result is very low share in some potentially attractive segments.

We suggested a strategy of unbundling quality and durability in its corporate mindset as a way to potentially open up new opportunities. We advanced the idea that quality be viewed as a predictable relationship between product age and expected performance. By opening up this strategic view, we tried to get the client to see possibilities in producing a very high quality product engineered for a shorter life cycle than its typical line. If it can take costs out as a result, it could still represent a strong margin possibility while creating new strategic market opportunities it doesn’t have a shot at currently.

You may want to take a look at your own product and service strategy to see if you’ve co-mingled attributes which might make sense for your business needs (i.e., we can charge more if our products last longer) but don’t deliver the greatest maximum value for customers (i.e., those with no intention of keeping your products for as long as they’ll last).

If your brand isn’t getting full credit for everything it delivers, explore strategic opportunities to pull apart co-mingled attributes to create growth and emerging strategic opportunities. – 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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