W5, a market research company based in Durham, NC is a strong proponent of “design driven deliverables,” defined as “any method of communicating research findings that goes beyond the standard research report.”

In a time when it seems like attention spans continue to decline, it’s fundamental to be able to form research results into meaningful stories that carry an impact with your audience. Very often, if you’re willing to push your thinking and spend some time on a deliverable, the right communication vehicle is anything but a standard research report.

W5 considers four types of design driven deliverables:

  • Graphic – Results depicted visually in posters, booklets, stickers, note cards, etc.
  • Sensory – Stimuli that engage the senses in various ways, including textures, audio, video, and smells.
  • Experiential – An interactive presentation of results in ideation sessions, dramatization, experiential tours, immersion rooms.
  • Installation – Physical environments that convey understanding, including displays, large scale murals, shadow boxes, and artifact installations.

You can check out more information through W5 white papers on this and other topics at company’s website. – Mike Brown

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I’m tweeting and blogging the American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference early this week. You can visit the conference website to see live tweeting, video interviews, and blog posts as the conference progresses.
Back here at Brainzooming, we’ll be running some earlier posts on market research to complement the new material coming from the conference:
It’s vital to have strong, successful relationships with key market research partners. This “Ten Things” list is a helpful starting off point for forging a solid relationship. Feel free to use or adapt it with your marketing partners:
Ten Things – The Foundation to a Strategic Research Relationship
  1. Be a “thought partner” with us. This is a two-way street – we’ve got to treat you like one before you can do what it takes to become one.
  2. Your energy and passion for what you do (and your intellectual curiosity) need to be evident.
  3. There’s a difference between researchers who think they’re researchers and researchers who see themselves as business people. It’s tough to explain the differences, but they’re readily apparent. We need researchers who think like business people if we are to be successful.
  4. Understand our business more deeply than from just the numbers that you see. If not, we’ll never get to where we must go.
  5. Bring creativity to questioning, analysis, and reporting (and any place else in the process). That means generating new ideas to produce breakthroughs on mutual efficiencies, high impact insights, easy to grasp reporting, and actionable recommendations.
  6. We must put information into context. We can’t afford to just report numbers or even changes in numbers. We need to get to insights. What does it mean? What do we do about it?
  7. We have to get beyond reports that show charts and have bullets that merely say what is on the chart. We have to offer our audiences relevant insights. That takes pulling information from various sources (including people) and analyzing, talking, and identifying relationships among everything we’re looking at.
  8. Look outside our industry or outside research circles for ways to report information. Review Edward Tufte, Richard Saul Wurman, and others. Are there movie scenes that help us get our points across? Magazine ads? Always ask the question: “What’s that like?”
  9. Communicate proactively – let’s make sure we talk and we’re all clear on things before moving ahead. That may mean a phone call instead of an email.
  10. Exhibit strong attention to detail – that way we can get beyond fact & spell checking and spend our time on delivering insights.

If you can get to this point with your research partners, you’ll truly be doing COOL WORK that matters and that can change your company and your industry. WOW!!!

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Brainzenning – A video moment of calm and reflection.

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I first connected with Sage Bray when she was nice enough to do a tweet pointing her Twitter followers to Brainzooming as a great blog for creative inspiration. Her Twitter name (@aSageInRealLife) and profile were both tremendously intriguing. Sage is involved in a very cool blend of freelance writing, art, and consulting with small businesses and solopreneurs. Her published work has appeared with Inc. Magazine, The Poor Chef, Examiner.com, and a myriad of other online periodicals. She blogs about making a living from creative endeavors on aSageInRealLife.com.

In today’s guest blog, Sage shares her perspectives on the benefits of placing creative thinking at the heart of planning:

Creativity isn’t really about random inspiration although it does seem that way sometimes. What it is really about is exploring options. Instead of falling into the “It’s done that way because that’s always how it’s been done” mode of thinking, you step outside the box, break new ground, push the limits, or get radical. Those are acts of true creativity – an essential, but often overlooked, component for a growing, vibrant business.

Even if you ask for innovative thinking from your employees or yourself, it can still be a fairly rare occurrence. That’s because it’s too easy to jump at the first viable idea that comes along. I have a rule: I must come up with an absolute minimum of three solutions to any business problem—although I try for at least 10. This means lots of wacky, crazy ideas which are fun and do result in some really interesting ideas. But it’s having choices that forces me to compare the pros and cons and really analyze what is possible.

For instance, if you want to get the word out about, say, your new casino style gaming site, you may think it’s innovative to start a campaign on Facebook, get fans, and start networking on gaming forums. And you could, and probably should. But what else could you do? There is traditional print advertising, which is becoming the rare thing to do these days. Under certain circumstances though, that could be the best choice to direct your funds, especially if you have a very targeted market. How about getting someone to dress up as Elvis and pass out coupons for free trials at local festivals? Or offer free life-long subscriptions to a couple big entertainment bloggers? Are these viable solutions for your marketing? You may laugh at the idea of some guy dressed up as Elvis promoting your business, but I know several businesses that do exactly that and they have seen significant measurable increases from this kind of promotion. No solution is too crazy – not if it works.

However, being creative and innovative does not mean just doing it differently. It means doing it well, in the best way possible, using the ingenuity you draw from others and from your experiences. Keep up your reservoir of ideas by reading plenty of blogs and newsletters, attending trade shows and local meet-up groups, and brainstorming with colleagues.

Don’t limit your exposure to things related to your specific industry either. You can glean fantastic ideas from both related and unrelated industries by simply asking yourself how their innovative ideas can relate to what you do.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (although that sometimes happens) to keep your business growing and flexible. But you do have to be prepared to do things differently and look for creative solutions to even the most common problems. Keep in mind, the objective is to do whatever you do well. Sometimes the answer you need will be something completely ordinary and what you’ve been doing all along. The thing is, you won’t know if it’s the best solution without thinking creatively about it. – Sage Bray

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Here are a few strategic thinking snippets on implementation. Yes, thinking does need to turn into actions and results:

  • On things that don’t really matter, it’s okay to conserve your effort & take the easy way out.
  • On something that DOES matter, do it when you’re ready to do it well. Don’t just fit it in when you’ll do it half-way (or worse).
  • When others are timid and worried about what the right next step is, decide to BE BOLD!
  • Attitude Check Question: Are you looking for and sharing good news with those around you? Please start….now!
  • Embrace the power of symbolism in communication. Not everything has to be literal.
  • Don’t ever let an opportunity slip away through failing to go back & ask for it one more time.
  • Keep ideas with great potential around even if you don’t use them now. They may be ideally suited for a future situation. – 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 brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help your organization implement with a more creative perspective.

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I presented on “Getting Ready for This” at the Fort Hays State University Business and Leadership Symposium. The talk focused on six strategic success skills vital  in today’s workplace amid a dramatically changing business world. The premise is it’s fundamental to possess strategic success skills in co-creating, contorting, and abandoning ideas and strategies based on what’s relevant at any time. It’s not so much “what” you know, as “how” to continually deconstruct and reassemble your  knowledge in dramatically new and relevant ways throughout your career.

It starts with several amazing factoids from the video “Do You Know 3.0?” recounting dramatic demographic, technology, and information-based changes worldwide. It’s been viewed millions of times, and in the event you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch it.

As a brief overview and reference for the presentation, here are the six strategic success skills to more concertedly embrace:

1. Knowing Answers Is Good – Knowing How to Find Answers Is Vital

Since facts change and information deteriorates, it’s vital to be able to know how to seek and vet potential answers since no one can be expected to have a full command of all available knowledge.

2. Balanced Thinking Allows You to Be More Strategic

USA Today featured an article in July on retraining a left brained orientation to a right brained one in order to cope with a changing job environment. We talk plenty about the importance of knowing your thinking orientation, surrounding yourself with a complementary team, and the strategic impact of being able to work with contradictory points of view.

3. Possibilities and Emotion are Important in Business

From someone whose more natural orientation centers on facts and logic, this has been the most challenging of the 6 areas to retrain my own view. The best place to go on this topic is Benjamin Zander, who has been mentioned frequently here. As a homework assignment for attendees at the FHSU presentation, I asked them to watch these two Zander videos and get a genuine sense of the importance of emotion and possibilities thinking:

4. You Have to Be Able to Communicate in Multiple Ways

Communication is in the top 10 topics addressed on Brainzooming so far because it’s so critical to successful creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking. Students need to be pushed to go beyond the typical team presentation that summarizes a semester-long project. They need to be adept at using formats of varying lengths (simple recommendations, elevator speeches, tweets, etc.) and mediums (songs, video, acting, etc.).

5. Leadership Starts Day One on the Job

Leadership is about service, not titles. That means day one is the time for new graduates to start leading on the job. Taking on a strategic leadership role can be simple. You just have to be willing to do something about it!

6. People All Around You Are Making Decisions Based on Personal Branding

Personal branding isn’t a meaningless concept authors dreamed up to sell more books. It’s truly the driver behind why anyone gets hired, advances, and has intriguing opportunities develop. Step one is understanding your talents and exploiting them. Here are two great books to read on how to further develop and sustain a personal brand:

I look forward to comments from those in attendance (and non-attendees as well) with thoughts on the topic since it applies to all of us as dizzying changes occur around us. Stay close to the Brainzooming blog for more on change and dealing with it in the near future!  – 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 get your Brainzooming!

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